3 ways to reduce training costs while improving outcomes

Scott Baran | November 30, 2018

3 ways to reduce training costs while improving outcomes

It will come as no surprise to most people, least of all learning and development professionals, that effective employee training is a crucial component of any organization’s path to sustained excellence. However, as a way to save money, some organizations attempt to reduce training costs by cutting training staff, decreasing the amount of training provided, or by outsourcing training efforts. Usually, these decisions result in diminished training outcomes, and/or an overall increase in organizational costs, since a lack of quality training reduces employee effectiveness. Fortunately, thanks to the recent explosion of high-quality and effective training technologies (and the strategies that underpin them), we are in the golden age of the ability to reduce training costs while improving training outcomes. Read on to learn about 3 options to reduce training costs within your organization.

30 Second Summary: How to Reduce Training Costs While Improving Outcomes

  • Leverage microlearning strategies: Give the learner the right amount of information at the right time to help them learn something new or solve an immediate problem.
  • Engage internal SMEs: Collaborate with the people who are experts on your application ecosystem to create the training documentation your users need to be successful.
  • Close the loop with analytics: Gather data and turn it into actionable insights  with the help of modern learning platforms, especially those that are xAPI compliant.

Leverage Microlearning Strategies

Microlearning is an approach to eLearning that “deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities.” The learning modules are divided into lightweight summaries, short video segments, or other small snippets of information that are easily digestible by the recipient. This gives learners just enough – in reality, the right amount of – information for them to understand a topic and achieve an immediate goal in an application or workflow.

Research shows that microlearning is 17% more efficient than traditional classroom learning. Primarily, this is because learning in bite-size amounts provides a more immediate impact, tailored to the end-user’s specific needs. Learners access the information when they need it, as opposed to learning something in a classroom and needing to recall it on-the-spot when they are back at their workstations days, weeks or even months later. Furthermore, microlearning allows the learner to focus solely on immediately relevant information. This means that she doesn’t have to waste time engaging with content that doesn’t provide value at the moment of need. If that microlearning content can be served to the end user in the flow of work as contextual guidance – that is, having it selectively presented to a user based on their role, and on the context of what they are doing in which application – it provides even greater benefit.

Engage Internal SMEs

While all companies have internal SMEs for various applications and workflows, they are frequently not engaged as part of the training process, outside of some conversations with L&D pros. This is frequently because it is difficult to engage SMEs in the process in a non-disruptive way. This barrier needs to be overcome; doing so not only helps reduce training costs, but can also improve training outcomes, since these SMEs are knowledgeable about your organization’s specific, and likely custom, system implementation, as opposed to an off-the-shelf, standard system implementation.

One obstacle to leveraging SMEs in training is that, while they are experts in their fields, they are not expert trainers. To overcome this, some companies purchase external training content, or outsource training activities. Often, this requires spending more money, while leaving in-house talent unused. Instead, engage SMEs in the creation and editing of training content. When engaging SMEs in this way, a collaborative authoring module is a great resource.  Some of the best training and productivity acceleration platforms include this module. It allows L&D admins to engage SMEs in the authoring process, while retaining control over editing and distribution of content. Building a workflow training doc? Nobody knows the workflow better than your SME. Need to edit existing documentation? Work with your SME to understand what you should update, what you should overhaul, and what you can remove. Engaging SMEs, particularly through collaborative authoring, can make a big impact.

Close the Loop with Analytics

Modern learning platforms help organizations better understand the impact of training on their workforce. They help provide information on user performance, user adoption, overall digital adoption, and more. They can even give you insight into employee engagement, and help to reduce employee turnover while empowering you to decrease time to competency for new employees. In the past, companies have relied on SCORM within their LMS systems for data on how employees learned, and then performed following their training. However, since workers spend almost all of their time outside of a corporate LMS, SCORM doesn’t provide nearly enough insight into how employees are learning and performing in modern environments. Fortunately, another standard helps close this gap: xAPI.

While few legacy platforms support xAPI, some modern ones have xAPI integration baked in from the start. This can help you track user activities outside of the LMS or LXP, and understand employee performance measured against, for example, what training resources they have consumed. xAPI is incredibly powerful, and can help you engage in data-driven decision making around what works, what doesn’t, and where you can most effectively spend your training dollars based on outcomes, not guesses. What’s the catch, you ask? xAPI helps systems talk to one another and helps you gather information, but you need an analytics engine (or an in-house data scientist) to help you understand what the data is saying. Fortunately, some modern learning platforms include xAPI analytics functionality, and can help you turn data into performance and ROI insights.

These strategies can help you reduce training costs for your organization, while simultaneously improving outcomes. If you want to learn more about how microlearning, engaging SMEs, and analytics can help your organization, contact us today.

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