By Dennis Yang of Udemy
How do you make sure current and incoming employees always have the right skills to meet your company’s evolving needs?
It’s hard to deliver effective, relevant training in the exact moment employees need it. Creating your own training is both time-consuming and expensive, and coordinating schedules and locations among employees is also a challenging task. Not to mention the people who typically “own” training — human resources or operations — aren’t necessarily the same ones who recognize the specific skills employees will need and when they’ll need them. By the time a technical lead or other department goes through the process of requesting and receiving specific training, hours and hours of productivity are lost.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Yang)
In contrast, the online learning space is booming among corporate users. Online courses offer businesses the ability to deliver quality training content effectively and easily, and a slew of vendors has stepped in to help companies do just that. But with so many options, how do business leaders determine which solution is the best fit for their needs and ensure that their workforce actually uses it to good effect? Here are five criteria to keep in mind when selecting an online learning platform for your business.
1. Know the skills your company will need: While no one can predict the future, you can keep a closer eye on trends and anticipate holes in your workforce’s existing skill set. Performing that gap analysis also means having a complete, accurate picture of the skills you’ve already got covered. Because so many skills (particularly those around technology) become obsolete so quickly these days, many companies are recruiting individuals with adaptable talents and offering training to keep them up-to-date on job skills, rather than looking for new hires with new skills.
2. Evaluate “buy” vs. “build”: Skills are always changing, and that means corporate training programs need to evolve as well. Few companies have the time, expertise, or dedicated resources to create and maintain their own skills-based training modules, but buying a pre-built set of courses can’t necessarily address a business’s unique needs or grow with it over time either. Find the balance between the two approaches to determine the best fit for your company or, even better, look for a solution that combines the virtues of each: access to pre-built courses on broadly sought-after topics along with custom courses for your proprietary training needs.
3. Make continuous learning a company value: In many companies, training has historically been viewed as a chore. Some of this can be attributed to the experience itself, as traditional corporate learning systems have a reputation for being clunky, boring, and out of touch with the way most of us engage with technology and consume content. Delivering video-based training online, whenever and wherever employees want and need it, can drive better employee engagement. The key, however, is for company leadership to champion a culture of continuous learning — one that actually encourages people to grow beyond their job descriptions and help themselves to additional training opportunities. Cultural change is slow in any organization, but those that emphasize learning at all levels are most likely to succeed.
4. Deploy the best available content from the best instructors: At its most basic, a successful training program needs to be built on superior training content. It also has to deliver a superior end-to-end experience for the employees using it. The leading experts in a given field are not always the most effective teachers. Corporate learners are craving the authenticity delivered by a practitioner with obvious domain expertise but who also has a gift for instruction. Creating and curating this kind of content is tougher than you might think. You need to marry high-quality content with expert instructors who know how to bring a subject to life for students so they can really absorb it and then live it.
5. Demonstrate ROI to company leaders: You’ll need to show ROI when you sell the idea of continuous learning to executive leadership. Here’s the good news — companies that offer online training save time and money on travel and accommodations, as well as instructor resources. And those savings can go back into revenue-generating parts of the business. Online systems also give you the ability to track which courses employees are taking and test them upon completion, so you can measure success rates and reward those who perform.
Thanks to the Internet, corporate training has come a long way. Offering it as an employee benefit can help attract higher quality candidates, keep them engaged in their jobs, improve retention rates, and ensure people have the tools and knowledge they need to do their best work on your behalf. Who knows, even you may learn something in the process.
Dennis Yang is the Chief Executive Officer of Udemy, the world’s online learning marketplace with more than 9 million students in 190 countries. Before Udemy, Dennis served as Senior Vice President at 4INFO, a leading mobile advertising technology company. He earned an MBA from Stanford University and completed his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.