Soyou've brought in a state of the art learning management system, and you have a team of instructional designers cranking out the content. But your staff aren't motivated to take the courses and are only engaging after a string of forceful emails containing threats or bribes. Hardly a conducive environment for learning!
But maybe there's more that you can be doing to support them in their workplace learning. Here are 5 things you can instantly do to improve the likelihood of your staff participation in elearning at work:
1 - Are they given time to undertake in elearning?
This sounds like an obvious thing, but are employees being given dedicated time each week/month to undertake online training? Managers may not necessarily see the immediate value in their teams sitting through online leaning when they should be getting on with their work. So ensuring you have management and team leader buy-in is essential. Who's going to sit through an online course after a hard days work or at the weekend? Most people (including me) wouldn't unless there was some kind of intrinsic motivation for me to do so, therefore being given a designated time of day during the week to do this is useful and will encourage your employees to actually take the courses. "Thursday 3pm? Oh it's time to do another hour of elearning." Other ideas could be to allocate a half day that they can do this from home? Or book a room where they can go so they aren't going to be interrupted. The managers could even go as far as scheduling this time into their teams diaries, it's much more likely to happen if there's a marker in the sand.
2 - Do they understand why they are doing the training?
Another obvious one, but what's in it for them? Why should they care about doing this elearning if they have other more important things to do? Make sure all your learning modules have a clear objective that is relevant to the employee and their role. Again, this requires a certain degree of management buy-in and possibly some management training on why the course is important (if the course is important enough to warrant that kind of investment in their time). After all, it will be the manager that encourages his/her team to undertake the training.
3 - Are they praised for undertaking training?
Are your employees being recognised for having completed the course? Make sure any training is added into the end of year performance reviews. Leaderboards showing which staff have completed the most courses can create a competitive edge internally that encourages people to do more training. You could even offer a prize for the staff who have completed the most courses! Bribery isn't always a good idea in a training environment, but if your elearning is effectively designed, the staff will find themselves learning the topics as well as reaping the rewards.
4 - Are they allowed to use headphones?
One company I worked at banned headphones because it created an 'anti-social atmosphere'. I disagree with that suggestion, and find it a bizarre rule for a number of reasons. But how can staff concentrate on their elearning courses without the audio that most good courses now have? The sounds of people on the phone and colleagues talking to them is only going to distract them. So if your company doesn't allow headphones, or maybe certain departments frown upon the use of headphones, you may need to speak with key decision makers about how to work around this issue.
5 - Have you given employees a deadline by which they need to complete the training?
Even if there isn't actually a requirement for the course to be completed by a certain date, providing a deadline can be a great way to create a sense of urgency for your staff to start the course. In addition to this, you could also suggest that the course won't be available after this date, which would give the learners the idea that if they don't take the course by the deadline, they will be missing out.
Hopefully these simple tips will help guarantee that all that hard work researching, designing, building and implementing the course doesn't go to waste. I would be really interested to hear any other suggestions for ensuring your employees are completing your courses.
Ant Pugh is an Elearning Consultant who helps organisations deliver effective and engaging learning solutions - you can learn more at http://www.elearningarchitect.co.uk and follow him on Twitter: @antpugh