1 August

What is eLearning for Business?

eLearning fro business

Impactful, cost-effective and available anytime and anywhere, it’s no wonder the popularity of business eLearning has skyrocketed. Electronic learning is training or learning delivered online through a computer, tablet or smartphone. Organisations use it to upskill or reskill employees and for compulsory compliance training. Some even use it to educate customers on products or services.

The term eLearning was first coined in 1999 by educator and researcher Elliott Masie. However, thanks to the internet, the development of multimedia, and, of course, the pandemic, eLearning has come into its own. So much so that the global market is forecast to reach US$1 trillion by 2025.

Today’s article is essential reading if you want to ensure your eLearning is on track in this fast-changing environment. We explore different types of eLearning and the benefits of eLearning for your business.

Let’s get started by exploring how businesses use eLearning.

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What do businesses use eLearning for?

Digital learning means organisations can rapidly produce and deliver content to multiple audiences. It’s flexible, versatile and allows employees to learn at their own pace and from any location. It’s now a must-have tool in L&D departments worldwide.

Businesses use eLearning in various ways. Here are its main applications:

  • Employee training  
  • Reskilling workers
  • Upskilling staff
  • Compliance training

Carry on reading for a more detailed look at what eLearning for business means in practice. 

What are the different types of eLearning?

Here’s a comprehensive checklist of the different types of eLearning. Use this resource to motivate and inspire you. There may well be some options you haven’t considered.

Compliance Training: Train employees on legal and regulatory requirements, industry standards, and internal policies. This type of training ensures that employees understand and adhere to the rules and guidelines governing their industry and organisation.

Onboarding and Orientation: Provide new hires with training to familiarise them with the company culture, processes, and job expectations. eLearning plays a crucial role in helping new employees quickly integrate into the company, understand their roles and responsibilities, and establish a strong foundation for success.

Product or Service Training: Educate workers on the features, benefits, and usage of the company’s products or services. Professional development equips employees with the knowledge and skills to effectively promote, sell, support, or use the company’s products or services.

Sales Training: Equip sales teams with the knowledge and skills to sell products or services and handle customer interactions effectively. This type of eLearning focuses on providing comprehensive training on sales techniques, product knowledge, customer interaction, and effective communication. It could be immersive AR, VR or interactive quizzes and games.

Customer Service Training: Train employees on customer service skills, handling customer inquiries, resolving issues, and maintaining customer satisfaction. Role-playing or immersive learning is often used to train workers on customer service techniques, effective communication, problem-solving, and maintaining customer satisfaction.

Leadership and Management Training: Develop employee leadership and management skills to enhance team performance, communication, and decision-making. Role-playing or interactive simulations may be used to explore management techniques, team building, effective communication, and decision-making.

Soft Skills Training: Provide training on essential soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. Examples include simulations dealing with a demanding customer or developing public speaking skills.  

Technical Skills Training: This covers training on specific technical skills related to job roles, such as programming, data analysis, graphic design, or project management. It might be practical assignments in  Microsoft 365 apps like Excel, explainer videos in accounting software or infographics on how to operate and repair machinery.

Cybersecurity Training: Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices, identifying and preventing potential threats, and ensuring data security. Likely topics include types of cyber threats such as phishing and malware and the importance of password security and data protection.

Diversity and Inclusion Training: Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace by providing training on unconscious bias, cultural sensitivity and fostering an inclusive environment. Specific examples here include professional development in inclusive recruitment and hiring practices or company policies on preventing workplace harassment and discrimination.

Change Management Training: Assist employees in adapting to organisational changes, such as new processes, technologies, or restructuring. This type of eLearning provides managers and employees with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to embrace and thrive in times of change.

Professional Development Training: Offer training programs to enhance professional skills, career growth, and personal development. Whether it’s skills development, training for potential leaders or strategies for a better work-life balance, the aim here is to promote career growth and personal development.

Health and Safety Training: Provide training on workplace safety, emergency procedures, and health and safety regulations compliance. Possibilities under this category include basic first aid, education on PPE, or management of workplace hazards like chemical spills.  

Software or System Training: Train employees on specific software applications, tools, or systems used within the business. Pre-recorded explainer videos, animations or group-based learning can be used to communicate the message.

Remote Work and Virtual Collaboration Training: Equip workers with the skills required to work effectively in remote, hybrid or virtual team settings, including communication and collaboration tools. Training may focus on how to get the best out of company productivity tools like Asana or practical tips on managing productivity or maintaining a work-life balance.

Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Training: Educate employees on ethical practices, corporate values, and social responsibility initiatives. This category covers a broad range of possible training, including how to develop a responsible supply chain or case studies, simulations, and interactive scenarios to explore ethical decision-making.

Quality Assurance and Process Training: Train the workforce on quality standards, process improvement methodologies, and quality control measures. Likely delivery mechanisms include interactive quizzes, games and infographics.

Financial Literacy Training: Enhance employees’ understanding of financial concepts, budgeting, and financial decision-making. Quizzes, simulations, interactive charts, and calculators are likely tools to deliver financial literacy training.

Language and Communication Skills Training: Offer language training or communication skills development for employees working in multilingual or global settings. You may choose to use interactive exercises, quizzes, and audio or video resources to enhance learning and engagement.

Professional Certification and Skill Enhancement Training: Provide training programmes to help employees acquire industry-specific certifications or enhance their professional skills to advance their careers. It could be a one-day conference or a short industry-specific course. Some employers also offer support for longer study periods, leading to certificates, diplomas or degrees. Help may be in the form of assistance towards tuition fees, or it may be time off work.    

What are the pros and cons of e-Learning?

Digital learning has much to offer businesses and employees.

According to research by SurveyMonkey, 86% of workers said that professional development is vital to them. And 74% were willing to learn things outside of work hours to improve their job performance. Workers value the flexibility of self-paced, on-the-go learning that fits in with their schedules and personal commitments.

And the benefits of digital learning don’t just stop at employees. Here’s a run through the headline impacts for organisations.

Pros of eLearning for business

Budget savings: Traditional classroom-based learning is expensive. Venue hire, instructors’ costs and the printing and distribution of training materials soon add up. Furthermore, there’s the expense and productivity dip involved in taking employees out of the workplace.

By contrast, eLearning is very cost-effective compared to face-to-face instruction. Although the initial investment in software and systems may seem significant, the ROI quickly becomes apparent. Digital learning is more scalable, meaning you can train more participants in less time.

Less administration: Reduce the admin burden by automating manual tasks within your eLearning LMS platform.

And updating digital course content is far more straightforward. If there’s a change in regulations or a new module to add, you can easily do so without reprinting an entire training manual.

Furthermore, rather than relying on scheduled training, the ability to access content on demand means employees are using their valuable time effectively.

Improved agility: Today’s workplaces are fast changing, and eLearning ensures you can rapidly respond to those changes. Content is quickly and easily modified in light of changing market conditions, new regulations or technology.

Enhanced productivity: eLearning courses are self-paced, and participants typically move through them much faster than in traditional settings. In classroom-based learning, instructors often have to slow the pace to accommodate those who need extra help. By contrast, eLearning allows workers to move quickly through those parts they are comfortable with or take extra time with more complex concepts.

The ability to learn more quickly and easily means staff are back at their stations faster. And they are ready to put their new-found knowledge and skills into action.

Personalised learning experiences: eLearning has a greater scope for more personalised learning experiences. There’s a better alignment between how the individual likes to learn. Workers can access content when and how they want and revisit it as often as necessary.

More accessible learning: eLearning opens up more employee learning and development opportunities. Whether it’s remote workers or those with disabilities, digital learning levels the playing field so everyone can participate. Accessibility standards ensure eLearning is accessible to workers with disabilities or limitations. And they will also ensure that content appeals to your workforce’s wide range of learning styles.

Standardised content: A significant advantage of eLearning is you can guarantee that every learner has the same experience. Quality is not dependent on the instructor. And that’s crucial for compliance training.

Less impact on the environment: Finally, there’s the environmental impact. Digital learning does away with paper-based learning. And it also affects CO2 emissions as workers are not travelling to attend training. When it comes to enhancing your green credentials, every bit helps.

Cons of eLearning for business

Digital learning presents a wealth of fantastic opportunities. However, it’s also fair to say there are some downsides to consider. Forewarned is forearmed, so keep the following in mind when developing your eLearning programs.

Lack of qualitative oversight: Most digital learning courses include some form of assessment. Usually, it’s quizzes or questionnaires with multiple-choice options and true or false statements. And while it’s possible to include open-text questions or those requiring fuller answers, the time needed to read and assess responses limits their use. Only a few company course administrators will have the time to read, and grade detailed qualitative submissions.

Dishonesty: Online courses operate on a high-trust basis. Often, participants sign a pledge in advance that the work submitted is entirely their own. However, some employees may be tempted to cheat. And unless you have sophisticated systems, it’s almost impossible to detect. Depending on the specific course, it may not be a big deal for your organisation. However, the potential for dishonesty is something to remember.

Engagement: Because eLearning happens online, you may not have a complete handle on how engaging the content is. For example, you won’t be able to see if your course is sending participants to sleep. In-built analytics will show you how and when employees are engaging with content. However, it’s a good idea to top up that data with feedback surveys to get a fuller picture.

Benefits of eLearning for your organisation

On balance, the benefits of eLearning outweigh any disadvantages. There’s no denying it’s a convenient, cost-effective and time-efficient way to train and develop staff and maintain organisational compliance.Furthermore, according to one survey, 66% of workers said they would consider leaving their job if investment in L&D to help with career development was reduced. Employee retention is a hot issue across the globe. And investment in eLearning is one surefire way to retain your brightest and best talent.