Improving engagement and productivity

20 August 2018

This article was featured in the September 2018 issue of the magazine.

Andrew Weir, employer services manager at Moorepay, talks about why many employers are adopting e-learning and how they can take full advantage of the digital education revolution

The Internet has had a huge impact on us all. There aren’t many day-to-day activities left that have been left untouched by technology. It’s not too surprising then that workplace education has also been greatly impacted.

Employees no longer need to travel to the other side of the country to learn new skills. All they need to do is log on to their e-learning system and train from their office, home or elsewhere.

E-learning has been praised for its flexibility, convenience, cost-efficiency and eco-friendliness. More and more organisations are now realising how influential and fulfilling it can be to their employees.

The popularity of e-learning shows no signs of slowing down and is set to rise even further over the next few years, with the growth of the global industry expected to increase 11% by 2020.

E-learning has many practical advantages. It increases the speed of gaining knowledge and reduces time and money spent on training significantly.

But its rise in popularity is not simply because employers find it cheaper and more effective than traditional methods of education. It’s also because of the growing realisation that many modern employees now prefer learning in small doses and at their own speed, rather than go through intensive training sessions or reading huge manuals.

According to a study from Stacey Stothard of Skipton Building Society in December 2017, the average British person now has an average attention span of just fourteen minutes. This may be partly because information is so readily available on Internet via mobile devices. The study says that finance related meetings or conversations keep our attention for just ten minutes. 

E-learning helps to tackle problems such as this by allowing people to digest information in smaller chunks, in ways that are engaging and interactive. Employers can give their employees autonomy in training, so they feel more empowered, trusted and respected. They can also be given deadlines to complete them, so they can choose when and where they want to access the training, such as on a tablet while eating or during a public transport commute. Tests and quizzes can also be included to monitor their progress.

If something needs to be updated in your e-learning modules, you can simply send it out via a quick video. It’s a win-win situation because your employees get the information they need while saving a lot of time.

In addition to training for specific job roles, e-learning can also improve people’s knowledge of employee manuals. Each section can be transformed into an engaging video. 

Many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) struggle to justify training expenditure, favouring investment on direct revenue generating activity. Often SMBs struggle to attract and retain top talent when competing against larger more established companies. Establishing a programme of learning ensures that talent feel engaged and empowered to progress their own careers. The advice for SMBs is to ignore development of their people at their peril as 87% of employers state that improving retention is a critical priority for their organisation. If companies are not seen to be investing in development, attrition through lack of growth opportunities may quickly become a problem.

It is important to note that, at the moment, e-learning is most effective when the subject matter has definite right or wrong answers, such as legislation, compliance or system processes. Other essential skills, such as management and leadership skills, are more difficult to teach via e-learning.

An added benefit to UK employers is that having good quality e-learning in place (along with other things) can support the organisation’s legal position in response to employment tribunal claims arising from the Equality Act 2010.  

In order to ensure e-learning is effective for your business and is utilised properly by your employees, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you allow your employees to learn in short bursts? It’s easier for employees to absorb the information in short five-to-ten-minute sessions.

  • Are your modules engaging? The best way to get people to take in information is to catch their attention. Consider using graphics and videos to make your modules more engaging.

  • Are your modules interactive? Interactive online tests are great learning tools. Qualified teachers understand this.

  • Are your modules mobile compatible? Flexibility is one of the main advantages to e-learning, which is why your modules need to be mobile-friendly so that your employees can access them from anywhere and from any device.

With e-learning, there is no work downtime from training. It’s a much better option than making your employees sit through seminars where they are likely to get bored or switch off.

Although not all employee training is possible through e-learning, there are many subjects that would be perfect for it. Savvy employers realise this and will allow their employees to train and educate themselves where possible.