How a Performance Support System Can Boost Employee Productivity

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It’s been two months since you trained on a new software solution and now you can’t recall how to enter vendor invoices. Given that most people will forget 77 percent of newly learned skills and content in six days, it’s no surprise you can’t remember two months later.

To resolve your issue, you search your training notes, use the help menu, ask colleagues for assistance, and call the support team. While these tactics eventually lead to a solution, they are time and resource intensive and disrupt not only your own productivity, but the productivity of others.

A performance support system, on the other hand, eliminates these productivity-draining ways of seeking help by providing support at the point of work.

Here’s a look at three ways a performance support system can not only guide you through “stuck moments,” but increase your productivity.

1. Eliminate Wasted Time Searching for Help

One of the biggest issues with a knowledge base or a help menu is that it often doesn’t provide support at the point of work. Rather than recognizing exactly where you are in the application, as a performance support system can, help menus still require you to use old-fashioned “search” to find a solution. Searching for information can take up more time than you think and end up being a significant drain on your productivity. According to research by the consulting firm McKinsey, knowledge workers spend almost 20 percent of their day searching for and gathering information.

One reason searching can take so long is that it’s often not a straightforward path from search to answer. You may have to re-query the system multiple times to find the right keyword phrasing for the answer you need. Or, you may never quite find the answer you are looking for. In fact, a Microsoft studyfound both search abandonment and re-querying were common when users were seeking help in its Office product. Some searches saw as high as a 99 percent abandonment rate and a 60 percent re-querying rate.

In addition to recognizing where the end user needs help and serving up the right content, a performance support system also offers job aids in different content formats. This can speed your learning process even further because you can choose the format that best fits your learning style.

Finally, because a performance support system creates job aids by recording the exact processes required to complete a task, the steps and language mirror what you see within the application. This eliminates the confusion many end users encounter when the help directions don’t match with what is on the application’s screen.

2. Reduce Initial Training Time

Training end users on new software is a key part of the onboarding process. However, it is not only costly in terms of the money spent on training, but in the use of your employees’ time. And, as pointed out earlier, retention of the material often isn’t all that great.

Technical skills training, such as learning a new software, often requires the biggest commitment of employee time out of all types of training organizations invest in. In a 2016 Training Benchmark Study, almost one-third of companies had employees spending more than 10 hours per year in technical skills training compared with only 23 percent of companies spending that many hours on leadership training.

On the Edgar Dale Cone of Experience, people have the highest retention rate (around 90 percent) when they learn “doing the real thing,” compared with a 10-20 percent retention rate when reading or hearing material. Because a performance support system allows you to apply a skill to solve a problem rather than esoterically learning a skill in training, you will not only better retain the information, you’ll learn it faster—taking short bursts of time to learn one process rather than hour- or- day-long training sessions. In fact, by using a performance support system, you can eliminate almost all scenario-based training.

This allows you to distill user onboarding training time down to the most crucial and frequent tasks end users will need to do in the software. Additionally, using a performance support system during training to show them how they can learn later will further reduce training time and speed the learning process when end users hit those “stuck” moments.

3. Increase Organizational Productivity

Behind the scenes there is another group of employees in the organization that can also benefit from a performance support system—your learning management team.

This team’s primary responsibility is to make sure that end users have the content necessary to assist them when they do get stuck. Creating this content, validating it, and pushing it out the end users takes time. And, as software updates come along or functionalities change, they need to constantly update the content.

A performance support system adds value to this teams’ work and helps increase their productivity by:

  • Allowing end users to create content.
    When end users notice a gap in learning content and can create it, not only does it help bolster your learning content library, but it aids the learning management team by spreading the burden of content creation across the organization.
  • Auto-capturing of all steps in a transaction.
    Using a recording feature, the content creator can reenact a specific task in the application and the performance support software will automatically record each step and automatically create the learning content in multiple formats. This method not only ensures accuracy, but eliminates work redundancies.
  • Automatically propagates updates to content changes.
    When new updates are released or functionalities change, the content will also need updating. A performance support system makes this a quick process by automatically pushing out updates to all content formats.

Right Time, Right Information

Living in the digital age, people already have and expect that the right information will be delivered to them at the right time. For instance, if your sink clogs, you can go to YouTube and get immediate feedback on how to unclog it. Looking for a coffee shop in an unfamiliar city? Google can tell you where the closest one is in a matter of seconds. A performance support system offers this same “right time, right information” value. Not only meeting employees’ expectations for how content should be delivered in today’s instant feedback world, but significantly boosting productivity across the organization in the process.

How are you currently creating, managing, and updating job aids and application documentation? What challenges and successes have you had?

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