For most companies, the highest priority when it comes to allocating training resources is increasing the effectiveness of training programs. This is hardly surprising because both executives and learners benefit from training that’s optimized to save time (and money) while delivering all its learning promises.
Yet despite careful resource allocation, many companies still find their training to be ineffective (or only partially effective) in achieving its goals. This is usually because of a few common challenges in training and development. These training issues range from a time-poor and sometimes dispersed workforce to limiting costs while improving engagement, and catering for diverse learning preferences.
Fortunately, Moliere was right when he said “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it”! So, we’re giving you the gift of five simple solutions to address the most common training challenges and improve the effectiveness of your training.
5 ways to solve training and development challenges in the workplace
The most common issues in training and development can seriously hamper your training return on investment (ROI). But the good news is that they aren’t all that difficult to mitigate. Here’s a quick guide to solving five of the biggest workplace challenges when it comes to training and development:
1. Hectic employee schedules
When work, family life, and a slew of other demands are draining employees’ energy, there’s a risk that training just adds to their stress. Worse still, intruding on employees’ personal time with training sessions is a surefire way to make them resist (and even resent) training.
● Avoid face-to-face training on weekends or after-hours, and limit travel requirements for training.
● Consider using a microlearning approach and deliver useful and relevant content in bite-sized chunks. Short videos, checklists, infographics and even gifs are simple microlearning formats that make training easier to consume.
● Communicate several concepts at once with clever graphics. They’re a valuable time-saver for learners, as well as a welcome break from reading text in emails, reports, and newsletters.
● Prioritize short, straightforward assessments wherever possible. This provides employees with quick opportunities for feedback on their learning progress.
● Optimize your training for mobile. Mobile features allow learners to access the LMS and training materials anywhere, any time – including on the train to work, or during their lunch break. This makes training so much more convenient.
2. A dispersed workforce
A steady rise in remote work and a decentralized workforce has led to new challenges in training and development.
With a geographically dispersed workforce, training can be quite hard: misunderstandings are common, and cultural differences may even lead to inconsistent training. For example, some cultures are less comfortable with being vocal on online forums than others.
● Use social tools to unify your dispersed team. Video conferences, webinars, and online forums are easy, convenient tools to foster trust and empathy between team members across the country (or globe).
● Use training to clarify communication: forums and webinars can be used as a safe space to voice questions and concerns, or share experiences.
● Clarify your training goals clear from the start. All team members should know exactly what is expected of them during training, and how their learning achievements will benefit them in their jobs. Consider implementing a “training agreement” outlining these expectations, and ask each learner to sign it as a commitment to the learning process.
3. Different learning habits
Whether you’re training 20 or 2000 learners, it’s vital that you consider learner preferences and habits in order to prevent further training issues.
The current workforce includes at least three generations, all of which have a radically different relationship with technology. So, your training is bound to be less effective if all employees are assumed to be equally tech-savvy or to have the same knowledge levels and learning habits.
● Conduct a thorough needs analysis that focuses on identifying the learning preferences (especially relating to comfort with technology) of your audience. Use the findings to inform your training design.
● Choose software with a simple user-friendly interface (UI). Seamless user experience is good for all learners, not only those who struggle with technology. For example, pausing a video or downloading an assignment should always be straightforward and easy.
● Open up communication channels (including tech support). Use tools like discussion forums to make it easy for all learners to ask questions and receive both content and technical guidance.
● Incorporate different content types, like video, written notes, and graphics, to cater for different learning preferences.
4. Lack of engagement
Engagement is important on three levels: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. Without all three in place, poor knowledge retention, passive learning and a lack of commitment contribute to challenges in training and development.
What’s more, behavioral change is impossible without learning engagement. And, when training feels irrelevant or unnecessary, most learners mentally and emotionally ‘check out’ and resist engaging.
● Incorporate practical learning activities like case studies, scenarios, role-plays and relatable examples into your training. These activities engage learners in active problem-solving contributing to better cognitive engagement.
● Use discussion forums and other informal live online spaces for learners to interact casually. This encourages learners to engage emotionally with other learners, and with the training process.
● Establish an active learning culture, and make all employees feel like a part of that culture, can boost emotional engagement. This emotional investment leads to increased learning.
● Communicate learning outcomes upfront to increase behavioral engagement. More learners are likely to participate in learning activities if they understand the objective behind it.
5. Training that isn’t relevant
Many training programs are too generic, and not personalized enough for specific roles or skills. Unfortunately, generic training can strain learners’ time and patience by forcing them to engage with content that simply isn’t relevant to them. You can bet this leads to further training challenges.
● Categorize learning outcomes into essential and nice-to-have for each role undergoing training. Only make essential training compulsory, but use other methods like gamification through rewards, badges, and points to encourage learners to engage with nice-to-have content.
● Leverage just in time training to update skills or convey new information exactly when it’s needed most.
● Use relatable case studies and scenarios to reinforce the relevance of the training program to employees’ jobs.
● Conduct feedback surveys after training to find out what learners found most useful, and where the training program needs refining.
6. Costs, costs, and costs
Facilitation, equipment, venue hire, and the cost of employees’ time (those hours add up!) all make training an expensive undertaking.
Training budgets tend to be small, while training demands are always steep. What further contributes to challenges in training and development is when a strained budget also needs to incorporate travel and software costs.
● Move your training online. Online training removes the need for travel and venue costs and often lowers facilitation costs too.
● Use a cost-effective, high-performing LMS. It’ll make a huge difference to how far your budget can stretch when you’re training large numbers of employees.
● Streamline your content development by focusing on the best bang-for-your-buck formats. For example, short text sections interspersed with feedback activities can save on development costs.
● Use webinars instead of face-to-face seminars as another way to limit travel and time costs.
Overcoming training challenges with a world-class LMS
As you can see, there is a solution to every training and development problem. And most of the solutions can be carried out with a great LMS.
For us, a great learning management system follows three rules. It must be easy to use so both instructors and learners don’t feel tense using it. It must have all the functionality you need to for your training needs. And finally, it must have a helpful support team. Follow those three rules when choosing your LMS and you will improve the effectiveness of your training fast!