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Devise an e-learning strategy that delivers


Laura Kelly, International Marketing Manager Thomson NETg sets out the key components for developing an e-learning strategy that delivers a strong return on investment.

People are valuable assets - invest wisely
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt recently advised companies that they should be evaluating their investment in employees on a more strategic level.

Ms Hewitt made the point: 'Many factors combine to make a truly great company. However, at the centre of any outstanding organisation, you will find its most valuable resource – people.'

It is true; employees are undoubtedly any company’s most important asset and underpin business performance. For many companies this is well recognised and training programmes have been implemented to develop and strengthen their skills.

However, if learning is to really propel both employees and businesses forward, it must be linked to strategic company objectives, as well as meet the needs of each individual.

Learning needs to be strategic
It is not uncommon for organisations to only implement a learning programme when they need to address a short-term skills gap. However, the reality is that this is often expensive and ineffective.

Learning can only successfully benefit individual and company performance when it is viewed as a long-term investment. This means companies need to think seriously about their objectives before they embark on a learning programme. For example, where are they now, where do they want to be in say five years time and what anticipated changes will take place in this time frame?

By carefully examining their goals, organisations can put in place a strong learning programme which not only addresses the skills that employees need immediately to progress, but also the skills that are going to be vital for organisational progression in five years time.

Viewing e-learning as a long-term investment and ensuring that it is strategically implemented will reap rewards.

Unsurprisingly, it is those companies that are most successful in their market sector today, that have truly understood the real value of their people and have made a strategic investment in training and development.

In an economy that is just starting to recover, managers are faced with challenges such as organisational change, new business objectives and fewer staff to carry out multiple tasks.

These challenges mean, that companies need to see real business improvements that positively impact on their organisations bottom line quickly and effectively. It is only by becoming more strategic in approach that e-learning can be an invaluable tool in assisting managers to adjust to these changing business demands.

Make sure your organisation is taking a strategic approach to learning

1. Tie learning into business goals
Training needs board level recognition and buy-in to ensure that it is tightly linked to key business goals. This demands HR representation at board level, so that those responsible for training and developing staff understand fully the company’s goals and aspirations, and can then translate them back into the company training programme.
This also helps to demonstrate training’s value to the board. Strategic learning is crucial in order to ensure that staff are supported, managed and developed in a manner that encourages long-term success.

2. Personalised learning
If it is to be successful, learning needs to be customised to meet individual requirements, as well as overall business goals. ‘One size fits all’ training is short sighted and will not maximise staff motivation or performance.

It is essential that training/HR managers carry out a training needs analysis to ensure that employees' individual training requirements are met. This should be seen as an ongoing process, to ensure that learning is constantly adapted so that employees are well equipped to meet changing demands.

3. Use a blend of learning
Research has shown that by combining learning methods, training is more effective, so ensuring your learning programme ties in with other learning methods you use is critical. In order to reap real return on investment companies need to choose the right blend of learning for each individual or department.

Learning must be flexible and incorporate the methods that individuals prefer to learn by. This is key to meeting the needs of individual and business goals.

4. Ensure that employees are aware of how training relates to business goals
Recent research from Thomson NETg found that 60% of respondents did not understand how their training programme tied into their companies overall business development.

When introducing an e-learning programme it is vital that the learner understands its value. If they can see how their unique learning programme fits into company goals, they will feel more motivated and committed.

Employees must understand how their training programmes and overall development helps contribute to business strategy and performance.

Return on investment
Employee learning can help organisations propel forward. However, learning needs to be implemented and carried out in the right way. By making sure that a training programme ties strategically into overarching business objectives, and that staff are aware of how their training ties in to these goals, success will be guaranteed.

It will require regular attention to ensure that it is continuing to meet business and individual requirements, but this investment will be met, and surpassed, by the benefits seen in terms of business efficiency.

In supplying tailored learning matched to individual and business goals, training/HR departments will ensure every employee is learning the right skills, at the right time, so money and time isn't wasted learning skills that aren’t required.


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