Corporate Adult Learners
The advancements made in technology over the past few years have allowed organizations around the world to continue training their employees with efficiency even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Virtual corporate training has become the new norm among companies in the United States. To create an effective virtual corporate training program, learning and development (L&D) professionals incorporate diverse learning formats such as virtual instructor-led learning, blended training, live training, microlearning, gamification-based learning, and ad-hoc modules. L&D teams have noted a rise in corporate training engagement and retention by offering employees curated content and learning paths. Some best practices used in designing impactful corporate training programs are drafting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) objectives, using interactive graphics and tools, and design with the need for continuous learning.
Online Corporate Training
- High-quality online training programs are those that align “corporate values and strategy”. According to an article published by Small Business Trends, enterprises have reported having increased their use of virtual/online training by “900% in the last 16 years”.
- Learning and Development (L&D) professionals utilize various technologies to organize online training programs that meet the needs of corporate learners. Some training approaches that have become popular over the past few years are virtual instructor-led classroom training (VILT), live instructions, and blended learning. It has been observed that VILT based corporate programs have “improved engagement with the entire audience” since participants are encouraged to interact with the instructor via text, video, or audio.
- According to a survey conducted by Westcon Comstor, in the United States, over 64% of enterprises currently use virtual classrooms for corporate training programs while 22% of organizations intend to incorporate this approach over the next two years.
- In terms of emerging technologies, the report “Workforce and Learning Trends 2020” published by CompTIA reveals that 42% of L&D professionals are excited about virtual instructor-led training, 41% want to work with augmented and virtual reality, and 31% are delighted by gamification-based training.
- According to Shift eLearning, the most common barriers in participating in online corporate training are time and irrelevant information. An article published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that employees are more often learning for the wrong reasons.
- A survey conducted by Shift eLearning reveals that only 12% of employees who participate in corporate training programs apply what they’ve learned to their work.
- In LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2018, it was outlined that over 94% of employees would continue working in an organization if it helps develop their career. However, it was also revealed that most employees “do not have time to learn the skills they need”.
- A study by Brendon-Hall showed that online training “requires 40% to 60% less employee time” compared to an in-person training session. Another study published by the Research Institute of America indicated that online corporate learning improves retention rates by 25-60%.
Best Strategies to Improve Corporate Training Attendance
#1: Gamification Approach
- While gamification in corporate training is not a novel concept, it has become an accurate means of improving employee engagement, productivity, confidence, and retention. Gamified corporate training is the approach to developing an environment where employees can experience friendly competition while learning new skills. According to Entrepreneur, gamification is steadily becoming a well-established approach for online corporate learning and development programs.
- According to a gamification survey conducted in 2019 by TalentLMS, over 61% of employees have already experienced gamification in corporate training programs. The survey also indicated that 33% of respondents want to see more gamification features in their corporate training software. The study reveals that with more gamification elements in corporate training programs, employees’ motivation increases by 83% and boredom reduces by 10%.
- A survey conducted by eFrontLearning has indicated that 80% of employees who have undergone gamified corporate training feel motivated to learn more. Gamification can, thus, prove to be an effective strategy in improving employee engagement and retention in corporate training.
- Employees claim that rewards, badges, points, leaderboards, and levels are five of the most motivating gamification features in corporate training programs. According to Tyson Chaplin, Tovuti’s chief learning officer, applying gamification strategies in corporate learning is a “great way to incentivize and engage” learners.
#2: Relevant and Practical Corporate Training Modules
- Corporate learners are accustomed to having immediate access to study material online with information for a specific need. For example, if a learner wants to know more about a certain function in Microsoft Excel, they would conduct a quick search for instructions or a YouTube video. This indicates that corporate learners will be more interested to participate and engage in corporate training when programs have relevant data that can help them in their current jobs.
- Fashioning engaging content can further improve employee retention. Corporate learners prefer a wide range of content delivery such as video, audio, text, quizzes, notes, webinars, and workshops. According to educational psychologists, training programs can be made more effective and memorable by “incorporating different types of content”.
- To attract the modern learner, corporate training modules must be aligned with their preferences such as selective learning material, access through various devices, diverse learning formats, economical sessions, scalable, community learning, and tracking analysis.
#3: Ad-hoc and Microlearning Modules
- Microlearning and ad-hoc training programs are primarily designed to improve the attention rates, retention, and engagement of millennial corporate learners. Studies indicate that millennial workers are prone to distraction every few minutes. Microlearning and ad-hoc environments are increasingly becoming a prominent theme in online corporate learning as an effective means to grab the attention of the modern learner.
- These modules contain short videos that offer chunks of information, enabling the learner to easily slip the module into their daily schedule. Microlearning corporate training programs offer employees a way to control their speed of learning and, thus, encourages better attendance and engagement.
#4: Personalized Content
- The corporate world contains people with various roles and skills. It is, thus, essential to provide personalized learning content that allows employees with distinct skill sets to move higher in their work environment. By providing curated content, linear and nonlinear training modules, L&D professionals will be able to improve employee engagement and retention with both the training program and the organization.
- It is also advised to include external learning resources such as research articles, YouTube videos, and TED-talks. Real-world examples, simulations, and branching scenarios are activities that help corporate learners build vital experience. Offering curated learning programs, and personalized training paths and experiences can also be useful to boost the participation rates of online corporate training.
#5: Allow for Personal Growth
- A popular method of improving participation rates in optional corporate training is offering employees an opportunity to learn something that interests them personally. This can be provided along with skill-specific training programs or regulatory training.
- By offering training elements that are engaging and “spark a personal interest”, employees will feel motivated to not only participate but complete the online corporate program.
Best Practices in Designing Effective Corporate Training Programs
#1: Use interactive tools, graphics, and content
- According to Unboxed Technology, L&D professionals need to provide employees with on-demand virtual solutions that not only suit the organization’s business needs but “proactively transform employee development to support the next wave of the workforce”. To do that, industry experts believe it is important to humanize the virtual learning process.
- It is essential to create a sense of belonging among the employees while attempting to boost engagement in the virtual classroom. Virtual corporate training programs that are led by instructors must have access to their webcam, at least at the beginning of the training session. Experts believe the use of a webcam can build trust and drive connection between the instructor and employees.
- Corporate training programs are also incorporating creative means to bring employees together in smaller groups to participate in fun activities in breakout rooms. Breakout rooms are private virtual spaces where participants can collaborate on their assigned activities. After the allotted time, people can be brought back into the main virtual classroom for the rest of the session.
- Whether working with a small group of employees or a large division, the use of emojis can be a powerful visual tool for both the instructor and the audience. With the use of emojis and polls, L&D professionals will be able to measure the participants’ comprehension and engagement to a certain extent.
- Existing training content can be upgraded by using digital technology and delivered in the form of presentations, infographics, graphics, video, and audio. Furthermore, the latest technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and gamification will help transform the corporate learning program and take it to the next level.
- Therefore, while building a virtual classroom for online corporate training, it is crucial to incorporate various graphical tools such as emojis, polls, special activity rooms, and video chats to make the training platform as authentic and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
- According to Topyx, a best-in-class online corporate L&D training program that drives positive results should have content developed by eLearning experts, subject matter experts, and thought leaders; and must be made accessible to participants, on various devices.
#2: Develop SMART Objectives
- According to an article published by Shift Elearning, objectives for any online corporate training program must be defined to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). By creating SMART objectives, L&D professionals will be able to design programs that are impactful and efficient.
- Specific: The objectives laid out for the program should be clear, simple, significant, and as precise as possible. Questions such as “What do I want to accomplish? Which resources are involved? And Who is involved?” can be answered through the “specific” objective draft.
- Measurable: Participants must be able to clearly understand how and where they can apply the skills learned from the corporate program. The objectives must offer measurable goals that can be tracked both by the organization and employee.
- Achievable: While striving for excellence, objectives must also be “realistic and attainable to be successful”. To develop achievable goals, L&D professionals must consider the time needed for an employee to “acquire a new skill” and “the current skill-set” of the learner.
- Relevant: This aspect ensures that the objectives align with both the organization and the employees. Along with the objectives, the program’s content must be relevant as well. The following steps can be taken to ensure corporate training content aligns with the objectives of the course —
- Time-bound: The training goals/objectives set must be divided further into sub-goals. This way, a timeline for the learning path can be effectively drawn to set landmarks and milestones. According to an article published by eLearning Industry, learning paths are generally set to have goals for the “first day, week, month, quarter, and year”. However, based on the nature of the corporate program, goals can also be based on competencies.
Available information on optional virtual corporate training appears to be largely limited in the public domain. Throughout the research, our focus was primarily on virtual/online corporate training and more specifically virtual instructor-led corporate training. We began our search by looking into industry reports; eLearning market studies from websites such as eLearning Industry; academic papers; media articles from websites such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review; and subject-specific websites such as Unboxed Training and Technology. After an extensive search through these channels, we found a plethora of information on corporate training, online corporate learning, eLearning, and virtual corporate learning. To gain a better understanding of why learners have trouble committing to attend training sessions, we expanded our search to look through the websites of some eLearning market leaders in the United States. We found several reports, studies, and infographics that explain the common reasons why employees find it difficult to attend and/or complete corporate training programs. A wide range of reports was also found to provide some best strategies used by companies to motivate their employees to participate in corporate training and some best practices that L&D teams use to design an effective virtual corporate learning program. We then synthesized the data from these reports and selected relevant data points, best strategies, and best-in-class practices that were identified by multiple reputed publications, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and industry leaders.