According to a 2018 Training Industry report, average training expenditures for large companies increased from $17 million in 2017 to $19.7 million in 2018. The number for midsize companies also saw a rise from $600,000 to $2.1 million. You may wonder why organizations invest such large amounts on training. Well, here are a few reasons why organizations must take employee training seriously and try different training methods:
Here are some employee training methods you can consider:
- Instructor-led training (ILT)
- Blended learning
- Immersive learning
- Social learning
- Experiential learning
Instructor-led training refers to training that occurs in a classroom (real or virtual, it depends). It can have more than one instructor who teaches through lectures, discussions, and demonstrations. ILTs are most beneficial for complex content, because the learners have the option to ask questions directly and clarify their doubts.
Common ILT formats
|Face-to-face training||Face-to-face training is the traditional classroom training method that has been around for quite some time, for example, lectures, conferences, seminars, and the like.|
|Virtual classroom||In a virtual classroom environment, participants can communicate and interact in an online setting, mostly through video conferencing. They can collaborate with the instructor as well as the other learners.|
|Webinar||In webinars, learners participate in an online lecture. They can post questions and answer polls. In most cases, learners interact with the instructor and not with fellow learners.|
In ILT, you need not present content in lecture format only. There are several alternatives to get it done. Try the storytelling method to make it interesting. Or you could create a panel of experts and allow the learners to engage with them. To learn more about presentation methods, watch this video:
Brainstorming activities are also quite common in ILT. You can ask the learners to write their thoughts on a flipchart or sticky notes. Participants can work individually or in groups. You can even consider throwing them open-ended questions to see what ideas they come up with. Watch this video to get some ideas on facilitating brainstorming sessions:
Pros of ILT
- ILT has a personal touch. The instructor and the learners can interact directly face to face. They can gauge each other’s body language and adapt accordingly.
- Everyone gets the same information at the same time.
- The learners can immediately clarify their doubts with the trainer.
- Group interactions help learners learn from each other.
Cons of ILT
- It can be quite expensive, since it may require investment in travel and accommodations for the learners and the instructors. Other expenses include procuring a training venue, equipment, and stationery.
- Classroom training has limited space for the participants.
- It’s a logistic nightmare to get everyone in one place at one time.
- The participants miss out on their daily tasks while attending the training at a fixed time. This affects productivity.
- The speed of the class depends on the weakest and the slowest participant.
eLearning is the delivery of learning through a computer or any digital device. It lends itself to a wide range of industries like retail, healthcare, automotive, and so on. Based on a report from Roland Berger, almost 77% of the organizations in the U.S. use some form of eLearning to train their employees. This high statistic is not a surprise, considering the various advantages it offers.
Common eLearning formats
An online course is a self-paced, asynchronous course that allows your employees to complete training online, meaning they don’t need to be physically available at some training venue. Learners can take a course during their free time, from anywhere they choose, like their living room or in the subway. As long as they have a mobile device with internet, they can access courses on demand.
Earlier, course creation was a complex task, even for technical specialists, but now it’s possible to build eLearning courses with no programming skills. The only thing you need is an authoring tool like iSpring Suite. It has a complete package of components for creating multi-platform interactive eLearning courses right in PowerPoint.
See what a course created in iSpring Suite looks like:
To share a course with learners, you can upload it to a cloud service and email a link to your employees, or add the course to your website. However, if you want to easily manage the training process and keep track of how learners view the content and what results they get, you need to upload it to a learning management system (LMS) like iSpring Learn. To have a complete look at the learning platform, read our blog post about LMSs.
Online games and quizzes
According to research from Metaarih, the growth rate for game-based learning in the corporate sector is very high, at a breathtaking five-year compound annual growth rate of 53.4%. It’s all about taking a boring task or process and turning it into an online game to boost user motivation.
A great example of game-based learning is McDonald’s UK Till Training Game. It delivers a memorable learning experience to support the launch of a new till system in 1300 restaurants. The game encourages learners to practice their customer handling skills. Employees deal with orders while being timed. They have to display their knowledge of the till system while keeping the customers happy. Gaming elements like bonuses, lifelines, and panels are added to boost further engagement.
Online quizzes are also a kind of gamified learning. Authoring tools usually provide options to create such quizzes. For example, with iSpring Suite, you can create drag-and-drop activities. To see how it looks, experience this eLearning demo about the basic rules of merchandising:
iSpring Suite also makes it easy to build interactive assessments with rich media, video, drag-and-drops, branching, and flexible scoring and testing rules. Below is a fragment of an online quiz created with iSpring Suite from Learning Nurse, an informal learning platform for nursing students.
Video tutorials are the best way to teach a process or walk through its various steps. They are usually not too long in duration. They leverage several instruction methods like direct instruction, quizzing, follow-along guidance, and so on.
If you need to create professional-looking video courses, how-to videos, and software tutorials, you can easily do it with iSpring Suite. It has a built-in professional video studio that allows you to record screencasts and webcam videos.
This is what a video lesson made with iSpring looks like:
A dialogue simulation is an interactive exercise that simulates a real conversation with an individual. It helps your employees master communication skills without any risk of rushing a deal or damaging their relationship with a client.
This is an example of a conversation simulation created in iSpring Suite:
Pros of eLearning
- Learners can access learning anytime they want and from anywhere.
- There’s no investment required for travel, accommodation, venue, stationery, and so on.
- The learners can choose their own pace and learning path, if you let them.
- It helps present learning content in an engaging manner.
Cons of eLearning
- If the target audience is not tech savvy, they may not find this computer-based training method suitable.
- There is a major lack of the human element.
- The learners do not have instant face-to-face access to an instructor if they have questions.
- You need to invest in authoring tools and content/learning management systems.
Blended learning refers to a teaching method that integrates technology with live location-based classroom activities and allows learners to get the best of online and traditional learning. There may be different ways of “blending” here, so every company needs to find a model that works for its employees.
Models of blended learning
|Flipped model||This is the reverse of traditional classroom teaching where the learners are taught in the class and then given homework. In this model, the learners are provided content before the class. They go through it independently online. During the classroom session, they discuss the content and perform various activities to ensure that they have understood the concepts.|
|Face-to-face driver model||This is one of the most utilized models in the workplace. Here, a chunk of classroom session is replaced with online activities. The classroom instruction along with pre and post activities are carried out online by the instructors. This model is best suited for participants who come from a diverse professional background.|
|Flex model||In this setup, the learners complete most of their courses online with a small portion of in-person activities like lectures and labs on a need basis. This is a flexible model and can meet the needs of a variety of formal and informal company training methods.|
|Self-blend model||This model of learning allows courses beyond what is offered traditionally. The learners not only participate in regular classes but also enroll in courses to supplement their regular programs.|
Different organizations use various types of “mixes”. For example, the Boeing Company chose the flipped model and created a blended learning solution with eight micro online lessons followed by assignments. Once employees completed them, they were eligible to attend a four-day live course. During this live course, participants are taken through hands-on cases and activities based on the knowledge they gained during the online sessions.
NHS East of England opted for a blended learning program with a mix of eLearning, videos, and face-to-face workshops. The solution helped home care workers, carers working in prisons, and relatives of critically ill patients develop their skills in end-of-life care.
Pros of blended learning
- Blended learning provides great flexibility in presenting the content to the learners. The complex parts can be presented face-to-face, and the rest of it can be made available online.
- Since modern learners are mostly surrounded by technology, they remain more engaged when you incorporate technology in learning.
- You can reach a higher number of learners with digitized content.
- More often than not, a blended learning approach reduces the classroom teaching time. As a result, the instructors have more time to create better training content.
Cons of blended learning
- Blended learning methods have a strong dependence on technology. If your tech infrastructure is not strong enough, the purpose of the approach is wasted.
- Incorporation of a robust IT infrastructure requires more investment.
- Learners don’t always have high connectivity. When the connection is slow, it may take a long time for the content to download and they may lose their patience.
Immersive learning provides learners with an interactive learning environment where it’s possible to replicate real-life scenarios or teach particular skills.
Common immersive learning formats
|Simulations||Business simulations are a specialized form of immersive learning that focuses on enhancing in-demand skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and so on. The learners can make decisions in a risk-free environment and experience the consequences of their actions.|
|Virtual Reality (VR)||VR is a form of interactive software that recreates a real-world environment in a 3D virtual space. Participants can learn new skills or practice old ones without worrying about the consequences of failure.|
|Scenario-based interactive video||This is a learning method that allows trainees to share their knowledge and ideas freely and thus changes the learning process from passive to active. Learner-generated content may be in the form of presentations, blog posts, videos, etc|
A good example of immersive learning is Boeing’s case. The company decided to reduce the scope and duration of certain physical tests for its aircraft, and use simulations instead. They switched to software-based trials for things such as wing load testing.
Another good example is Walmart, which rolled out a VR training program for its employees across the US. They used STRIVR technology to enhance learning experiences in 31 of their training academies. The company also used VR to train new hires on how to deal with rush crowds, cleaning up aisle spills, and so on.
KFC also adopted VR to train its employees. They use Oculus Rift headsets to show them how to cook their fried chicken. The training has certain gamification elements too. The employees need to master the five-step cooking process — inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure-frying to win the game.
As for scenario-based interactive learning, a great example is an interactive recruitment video created by Deloitte. It’s a first-person experience introducing the candidate to the company culture and educating them about what is expected of employees. Through a number of real-life office dilemmas, candidates can choose which course of action to take.
Pros of immersive learning
- Immersive learning keeps the learners engaged. As a result, they learn better and recall faster.
- Since it is a risk-free environment, your employees can learn without having to pay a penalty for making mistakes.
- The learners are given instant feedback for their actions. That way, they know where they’ve gone wrong and avoid the behavior at the workplace.
Cons of immersive learning
- Creating an immersive learning experience can be cost and time intensive.
- If you fail to recreate the relevant job environment completely, then the learners may not be able to fully immerse themselves in the situation.
- Extended exposure to VR and simulations may have a negative impact on learner health.
- Some platforms need regular updating and maintenance.
Social learning is not a new concept. People have been learning from each other since time immemorial and are great at it. Social learning happens effortlessly, as when people communicate with their peers about how to perform a task, receive mentoring from a supervisor, or observe other people’s opinions in a forum. Today, more and more companies are turning to this kind of learning.
Social learning formats
|Mentoring / Coaching||Mentoring refers to a semi-structured method of guidance in which the mentor shares their knowledge and experience to help others progress in their career. Mentoring and coaching are not the same, however. Mentoring is relational, whereas coaching is functional.|
|Learning through social media||Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can be great tools for employee training. They let everyone share the information they consider useful and provide convenient communication on specific topics with peers and supervisors.|
|Learner-generated content||This is a learning method that allows trainees to share their knowledge and ideas freely and thus changes the learning process from passive to active. Learner-generated content may be in the form of presentations, blog posts, videos, etc|
Various social media provide different opportunities for staff training. For example, with Facebook, you can start a closed group that will serve as an ever-expanding online library for employees. You can upload course materials and assignments there, encourage your colleagues to post links to great online resources related to the topic, set discussions, and carry out surveys on the training process.
Some educators have adopted Pinterest for educational use. Since the platform allows people to find and share new information via pictures, descriptions, and short videos, it can be a useful tool for encouraging learners to explore a topic. They can post their own creations or information they’ve found on their own pinboard or a team board and repin their peers’ posts.
Some companies, such as IBM, use YouTube for workplace training. On the corporate YouTube channel, employees can watch videos for training, internal HR updates, messages from executive leadership, etc.
A great example of applying the method of learner-generated content is the British Telecom project Dare2share. Employees were to identify issues they face at work and create video podcasts to explain and show how they solved a problem. This method helped the company reduce training time from 6 weeks to 3 days.
Pros of social learning
- By tutoring others, employees can gain valuable knowledge and skills on their own.
- Social learning can help develop a learning community within your company and improve communication and collaboration between employees.
- Learners can ask questions and receive answers at the point of need.
Cons of social learning
- Since social learning implies that everyone in a company is responsible for both teaching and learning, it’s quite difficult to control the process.
- Limited data to show how social learning works and calculate ROI.
- Without a supervisor, discussions can go sideways quickly and there’s a risk of being misinformed by non-experts.
Experiential learning is learning by doing, but there’s more to the process. It has a four-part cycle.
- The learner has concrete experience with the content.
- They reflect on the experience and compare it to prior experiences.
- Based on reflection and experience, the learner develops new ideas about the content at hand.
- The learner then acts on new ideas through experimentation.
When they put the new ideas into action, it becomes the ground for a new cycle of experiential learning.
Types of experiential learning
|On-the-job training||This method is used to impart new skills and competencies required by an employee to successfully perform a particular job. They learn and apply the learning at the same time.|
|Role playing||Learners assume roles and need to develop and apply actual skills to resolve the problem at hand or navigate a crisis.|
Pros of experiential learning
- It helps learners relate to the content, which in turn keeps them engaged.
- It encourages learners to utilize their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
- It creates strong relationships between the thinking and feeling process, which assists in memory retention.
Cons of experiential learning
- It’s not suitable for people with little or no experience.
- Negative experiences can hinder the learning process.
- Excessive trial and error can result in a lower focus on learning.
- The learning outcomes are not always predictable.
As you can see, there are several training and development methods to choose from. Each has its advantages and pitfalls. You will be spoilt for choice, and zeroing in on any one of them can be difficult at first. You need not choose the latest employee training methods and techniques, but you must select one that best suits your purpose. Consider your content, audience, and business and learning goals before making a final decision.
FAQ on Training Methods
How to choose the right training method?
Before choosing a training method, you need to ask some questions:
- What are the training goals?
- Who is the target audience? How do they prefer to learn?
- What resources do you have at hand?
- What are the budget and timeline?
- How will you measure success?
Once you have reasonably clear answers to the questions above, you can go about the task of selecting the best way to train your workforce.
What are the best sales training methods?
As mentioned above, the choice of a method relies on a number of factors. However, many organizations tend to use blended learning for sales training. For example, you can mix ILT sessions on selling techniques, eLearning courses on your products, and coaching – a coach will work one on one with each member of the sales team on their weak points.
How can you evaluate the effectiveness of the training method chosen?
One of the most widely used ways to define how well your training methods work is with the Kirkpatrick Model. It allows you to measure training effectiveness on four levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. You can find out how learners feel about the training, evaluate the increase in knowledge, skills, and attitudes after training, check if they’re applying new knowledge in the workplace, and find out how behavioral changes affect the business.