In difficult market situations where profit warnings from large cap companies, massive lay-offs and general uncertainty abound, it is easy to lose one’s cool. Future may look bleak and optimism is in short supply.
But there is a silver lining. Or more precisely, an opportunity to make the most of the uncertainty with just the right tools.
In this article we will discuss how human resources and upskilling staff in particular is affected by market uncertainty – and how digital e-learning can become a part of a company’s survival strategy.
Budget constraints are here – don’t save money in the wrong place
When sales targets prove to be elusive, companies naturally cut costs to keep their balance in order. Human resources and training tend to be perceived as low-priority areas, and are likely to be axed first.
Short-term cost savings in training may have unfortunate downstream effects in companies that rely heavily on the input of humans (and let’s be honest – which organization doesn’t?)
During uncertain times employees are likely struggling with emotional security and stress to begin with. HR-problems are likely to compound.
How will we survive increasing prices?
How will I take care of groceries and bills this month?
What if my employment is terminated?
Chances are, this is exactly what your employees are thinking right now.
When training and upskilling initiatives are reduced, employee welfare is hardly soaring. Unhappy employee is an unproductive employee. Decreased worker motivation is likely to impact the entire organization negatively on a plethora of metrics. Surely not what you had in mind.
At the same time, many industries suffer from chronic lack of employees with just the right skill set. This is not a good time to lose key people – particularly if they migrate to your competitors.
So how could you cut costs smarter? Less money needs to be spent on employees, without making compromises in terms of productivity and motivation. At the same time, overall business should remain lucrative in the long term.
Not an easy balancing act, we admit.
Challenges of upskilling the old way
When employees’ time is in short order, budget constraints are felt more, and organizations have a more global reach, on-the-job training and upskilling must evolve. Training must be agile and adaptive like never before.
This is where e-training comes into the picture. E-learning constitutes a flexible and often cost-effective way to provide employees development opportunities. E-learning has a strong user case for instance in new employee training, safety training, and sales or product training. These are all subjects suitable for time and location independent learning.
Technological advances of the last few years make e-learning more accessible than ever. They constitute also a reasonable way to recession-proof your training program. E-learning provides:
- Higher employee retention. Investment in training and development makes employees feel appreciated and increases loyalty. Employee turnover is effectively reduced.
- Higher productivity. A competitive and agile organization needs employees with up-to-date skills. When the world changes at breakneck speed, constant upskilling is needed for employees to adapt.
- Higher adaptability. Rough economy makes competition harsher and shows who is who. A good upskilling initiative makes your organization resilient and able to adapt its practices to a changing context and reach an operative competitive advantage.
- Higher employee loyalty. Individualized and meaningful upskilling opportunities commit employees to their organization. This is increasingly important when employee stress and uncertainty soar.
Not only is e-learning flexible and cost-effective, it is also measurable. It is easy for the HR department to understand what works and what doesn’t, and develop training materials accordingly.
It is easy to follow individual employees or aggregate learner data by department, function, or other factor. HR can design more individualized support and training.
The increased transparency makes it easier to justify investment in upskilling. Data on the impact and ROI of training becomes clear and easy to present. No more vague assessment and guesswork.
Misconceptions on digital learning
E-learning is a relatively new phenomenon that is qualitatively very different from traditional on-the-job training. There may be resistance and suspicion towards its adoption – and it is not always unjustified. However, there are some arguments against e-learning that are simply not true (at least any more).
These are some of the most common beliefs.
E-learning platforms are expensive
First argument against e-learning tends to be their price tag. Pricing strategies between different platforms can vary. E-learning is a broad category, and there are solutions and services for every budget. Organizational needs also vary, and different companies may require different services from the e-learning provider.
However, the affordability can depend on perspective, too. Namely, a product may look expensive when you look only at the initial investment, without factoring in the long term costs. Better training is likely to have a massive impact on the big picture, saving money beyond the HR department.
Well trained staff makes a competitive company. A proper e-learning platform in the right hands can drastically increase the quality of labor, with a fraction of the cost of most old fashioned training initiatives.
Not to mention that e-learning allows employees to allocate training times optimally. People do not need to make compromises with their time just to adhere to a trainer’s schedule.
Using an e-learning platform is too difficult for staff
Resistance to change is natural to us humans. Technologies come and go, and not every software has a good user design. When a tool is cumbersome and difficult, it is not used to its full potential, if at all.
Consequently, this belief has a grain of truth. Many (older) e-learning or ed tech tools have been designed in teams that include only engineers and technology experts. When design is not user centric, the final product may look like an airplane dashboard – a chaotic collection of bells and whistles that requires a technical degree to operate.
Luckily enough, user centric design has crept into popular imagination. Modern e-learning platforms have been created with teachers and learners’ needs in mind. They have become increasingly intuitive and user friendly. The trick nowadays is only to find a platform that suits your organization’s needs.
From the manager’s perspective it is also to justify to the staff why an e-learning platform is being adopted. When an organizational reform is made transparently and considering all stakeholders’ interests, it is likely to be successful. It also helps to avoid resistance and negative attitudes.
If you need help on how to find a tool that suits just your company, take a look at our 10 advice on choosing an e-learning platform here.
Making the training content is labor-intensive and requires special skills
A trend in recent technology has been democratizing content. Creating engaging content is easier and more accessible than ever, professional background notwithstanding. Still, creating pedagogical materials for e-learning is still often perceived as something better left for graphic designers. This is a symptom of a lack of understanding of modern content tools more than anything.
Even e-learning tools have started to include templates, example materials, and shortcuts for educators. Many pedagogical contents can be used as they are, and many more can be easily adapted to suit the needs of a specific company. When everything else fails, content tools have made it increasingly easy to create materials from scratch. All this means less testing and iteration to get training started.
Last but not least, many providers offer training or content as a service. Even if your company simply cannot spare the resources to create e-courses or study materials, it is often possible to purchase content creation and maintenance on top of the platform.
How to get started with e-learning?
The benefits of e-learning go beyond mere training. It can improve overall employee satisfaction and productivity, creating a competitive advantage in a context of uncertainty.
Greater investment in your staff is also a way to communicate your appreciation for them. This can have a broad impact on the entire organization – even when the economic outlook looks bleak!
The case for better training is clear. Now is a good time to challenge the myth that cutting training costs in an economic downturn makes sense.
Investment in your staff is also an investment in your company’s future. As is the case with planting trees, the best time to adopt a proper training initiative was a generation ago. The second best time is right now.
In case we caught your attention, feel free to book a no-strings-attached demo meeting here. We can map together how the Workseed LMS could help your organization to take on-the-job training to a new level.
If you think you need more information on purchasing an e-learning platform, read our 10 tips to choose a digital learning tool just for your organization.
Digital Marketing Specialist