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Philip Piletic

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Can Corporate E-Learning be Engaging?


There is no question that British companies are currently at the crossroads of uncertainty. On one hand, the United Kingdom still has not determined what will happen once Brexit moves from the negotiation phase to a transition stage; on the other hand, reports from the London School of Economics predict that the ongoing skills gap could very well continue expanding in any Brexit scenario.

From machine operators to accountancy professionals, the skills gap is a British issue that is bound to reach a critical point. Some of the hardest-hit sectors are those that rely on skilled trade workers, of which shortage levels are reported to be around 43 percent. Since a workforce with a strong skills base is necessary for reasonable economic growth, it stands to reason that the time for sharpening the skills of employees is now. Whatever the Brexit outcome may be, companies in the UK should start getting serious about educating their workforce, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through e-learning.

Transforming the Workplace Into a Classroom

Thanks to technological advances in e-learning, corporate offices and even industrial shops can be transformed into learning institutions. In the past, training employees meant hiring trainers and taking up space to set up classrooms; these days, e-learning enables course delivery to just about any internet-connected personal computing device, and this may include smartphones and tablets that workers can take home.

When it comes to skills acquisition, the workplace is perfect because it offers many opportunities for experiential learning; it is really up to company principals and managers to take advantage of e-learning and convert their premises into classrooms, but the key is to get the students into a receptive mood to learn and sharpen their skills. Just like clever educators are able to spice up their lessons so that students pay attention and have fun as they learn, companies can use various strategies to engage workers with e-learning.

Catering to Employee Needs

With corporate training, it is not unusual to find an imbalance with regard to objectives and goals. Many companies run training programs in ways that make workers feel as if they have little to benefit from what they will learn; in fact, it is not unusual for workers to feel as if their training sessions will result in more duties and responsibilities.

One of the problems with workers who are not motivated by corporate training is that they often feel as if the company is not thinking about their needs. Workers know things and have opinions; they want to contribute their knowledge and make their voices heard. Moreover, employees also need to feel appreciated and want to engage in two-way feedback about what they are expected to learn. E-learning by itself does not provide appreciation and encouragement; these are aspects of professional relationships that must start at the managerial level and continue up the corporate ladder.

Promoting Engagement With E-Learning

Experts in the field of human resources usually mention three pillars of engagement in the workplace:

  • Dialog: Open-door policies are conducive to better workplaces. It is virtually impossible to promote engagement without effective communications.
  • Personal touch: Workers feel more comfortable when they can get along with supervisors, managers and company principals on a personal level. Promoting casual and affable relationships at work is a smart way of injecting a personal touch.
  • Coaching: All employees have various level of talents and interests. It is up to the company to recognize the potential of workers and determine how it can line up with business objectives.

The aforementioned pillars of engagement can be applied to the e-learning experience in various ways. With regard to coaching, the action-feedback-trigger cycle is highly recommended. Let's say customer service agents are learning about a new method to deal with irate clients; in this case, the AFT learning model can be incorporated into a lesson as follows:

  • Action: A training telephone call is set up between a simulated irate customer and a student who is willing to put apply some of the techniques she has learned.
  • Feedback: The conversation is recorded and tactfully played back so that students can weigh in with their opinions about the interaction. This is an excellent opportunity for coaching and for rewarding students for their performance during the action step.
  • Trigger: Certain notifications and reminders can be included within the e-learning training materials so that students will be able to identify opportunities to put their skills to work.

In the end, e-learning should not be limited to a set of lessons that aim to improve skills for the purpose of meeting business needs. There must be "something in it" for workers, a way for employers to show that the skills being taught are also positive in terms of professional development.

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Philip Piletic

Blogger, writer and editor

Read more from Philip Piletic

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