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Training employees efficiently and effectively to help them do their jobs

By Asif Rehmani
Updated June 4, 2020

All organizations are faced with a common hurdle:

how do you train employees on new technology effectively and efficiently so they can do their jobs productively?

Knowledge transfer is tricky and doesn’t always get the same results. Delays in getting employees to learn and adopt a new system can be costly. No matter what the reason is for migrating to a new or updated system, adopting technology can disrupt operations significantly. Ineffective training and slow or nonexistent adoption can negatively impact productivity throughout the organization.

The current systems are not working... but rest assured, there's a better way!

The pain of poor training is evident during an employee’s onboarding process. New hires bring with them the risk that the training that you provide will be wasted if they leave shortly after being hired. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Nearly one in three newly hired employees leave the company voluntarily or involuntarily before the end of their first year. Companies typically have little opportunity to recoup their investment in new employees who leave”. The number of employees leaving before the first year is complete has been steadily climbing. This is creating a huge loss for companies

Why do Employees Leave?

While there may be a number of possible reasons employees might leave, frustration with their responsibilities is a big one. Many times, that frustration is due to a lack of clear understanding of how to do their work.

There is a growing gap between the training that organizations provide and what learners need in order to be successful in their jobs. According to the Association for Talent Development, 92 percent of learning professionals believe the most popular tool is traditional classroom training, but only 38 percent believe that [it] meets their learners’ needs.”

What are the Top Training Challenges?

Challenge #1: Knowledge Retention

More formal learning environments, such as instructor-led training classes, can, indeed, provide in-depth information about a new system. Organizations spent an average of $1,208 per employee on training and development, according to Training Magazine. But, according to various reports, most people forget 45 percent to 60 percent of the information they receive within 24 to 48 hours. 

Research by Microsoft and Time magazine in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000, around the time we started using mobile devices, the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. It was reported in the same Time article, that goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds, one whole second greater than humans. Yikes!

Consider the hugely successful TED talks, they focus on presentations with limits to 18 minutes and report that sessions over 15 minutes lose the student's attention dramatically. Thus many authors would make the case that a lecture session should last no more than 10–15 min to accommodate the biological set point of a student’s attention span.

Challenge #2: Lack of Effective Training and Support Tools

Despite growing into a multi-billion dollar industry, employee training hasn’t been able to adequately transfer knowledge in many cases.

Task expertise among end users is typically low when new systems are installed, and traditional classroom training or a "Google it" approach doesn't quickly provide the necessary task competency levels that companies are looking for. The primary reason is that employees need training – or more specifically, they need Answers at their moment-of-need, not at a predetermined time.

They also need clear and accurate instruction that is easily accessible from a reliable source. Search engines, help files, and video channels can be challenging to get the best answer efficiently and may lead to confusion among workers. Most current training or knowledge sharing solutions don't get the job done effectively and efficiently.

59% of Millennial workers have indicated that organizations must provide state-of the-art training to convince them to accept a position. A survey of over 200 employees from multiple industries revealed that more than one-third said their company’s techniques aren’t a productive use of time and another third said they weren’t interesting or engaging.

Unfortunately, once a trainer leaves the training environment and employees try to apply their new skills, there are few efficient and effective resources available to support the application at the workspace. Workers routinely wish they could review training content at a later time.

So What can You do about it?

The solution to improving adoption is to leverage the strength of an increasingly popular self-directed e-learning model. This model puts the learning tools for a new work task within the work setting in which they perform the task. The concept behind the development of these tools is performance support: the enablement of workers to learn new tasks by engaging with training content while they work.

On-demand, contextual, micro-learning performance support provided in the user workspace enables workers to get the training support they need, when and where they need it. Training delivered in this way helps new technology users perform better and build task competency faster.

In the book Performance Support: Insights From Jane Hart, organizational learning expert Jane Hart observes these critical employee training needs:

On-demand “Often, [when] people are faced with learning or performance problems, they tend to look for quick and easy on-demand solutions, which they can just pull down as required. Rather than processing a package of eLearning courses…people prefer to pick out things as and when they need them.

Quick Short Bursts of Educational Content does the Trick!

The time spent on learning is shortening. Learning is happening in short bursts. In fact, research shows that the average viewer’s attention span for videos on YouTube is around just a minute! In other words, people get what they want or need from the resource and then leave it. If it doesn’t deliver what they want in the first few seconds, they leave very quickly.

In the Flow of Work

Learning [takes] place…in the workflow, as people do their jobs. Traditionally, people stepped out of the workflow to go to a classroom or use a platform for training. Now, they’ll only do that if it’s necessary. What they want to do is find what they want when they need it, as they’re doing their jobs, and then just get on with their jobs. They don’t want to spend time adding to the workflow unless they need to.”

Two components to maximize technology training

Microtraining

Microtraining provides learning in short, digestible, focused segments. In a SkillSoft survey, 40% of workers surveyed said they didn’t have time to complete the training they needed. Information workers “believe that small snippets of information are easy to retain and make for more interesting learning.

Microtraining works better because it’s sticky – the principles get absorbed and retained – and doesn’t overwhelm learners.

Training in Context

Contextual learning has been defined as "learning [that] takes place when teachers… present information in a way that students are able to construct meaning, based on their own experiences." Applying this principle to the workplace means that training must be delivered in a manner that allows the worker to learn through the experience of completing a task in the workflow. When workers learn in the context of performing their jobs, performance will be better. They get an immersive experience, where they are presented with real-world opportunities to learn their work tasks.

Employees prefer Learning in the Flow of their Work

According to Training Journal, "Companies are instituting informal ways of learning in which content with best practices and benchmarks for employees are available when and where the opportunity to use it arises." Entrepreneur Magazine cited a SkillSoft survey of over 1,000 office workers that revealed “33 percent said they prefer to learn by feeling or experiencing what they’re learning about. Hands-on training gives employees the opportunity to apply what they’re learning directly to their job”.

The training content can be created to be easily digestible, and provided where they need it, when they need it, how they need it.

The learner doesn’t need to recall training from an hour, day, week, or month earlier. They’re able to gain knowledge at the moment of need. As a consequence, they also don’t need to rely on as much training content as they would during a full training session. So the training content can be created to be easily digestible, and provided where they need it, when they need it, how they need it.

Great! This all makes sense. What's the next step?

At VisualSP, We have been dealing with end user training challenges for more than a decade now and have been able to help many organizations in various industries solve for their end user training, communication and support needs.

The main premise of VisualSP is to get information to end users at the moment of their need. It's as simple as that! Get people the information they need at the time they need it to help them be successful at their job.

The VisualSP application is being used by more than 2 million end users around the world. The application sets as an overlay on top of your existing underlying enterprise application and guides your users in forms of quick videos, announcement banners, tip sheets, inline help icons and walkthroughs. Since all people learn differently, various learning modalities are used to communicate the message and training to users.

Check out VisualSP and let us know if you have any questions and how we can help.

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