The benefits of blended learning for your employees
Blended learning is becoming increasingly popular as means of delivering training in the workplace. As its name suggests, blended learning incorporates different approaches to training, combining the best of both traditional classroom-based instructor-led learning and remote technology-based learning. This approach can take many forms – a popular approach combines face-to-face training on site or through live webinars, with self-service online learning modules.
According to Clive Shepherd, an expert in the workplace learning industry, the following US companies quantified the success of their learning programmes:
Dow Chemical reduced its cost per learner from £67 to £8, thanks to online training.
Ernst and Young saved 35% on all their training costs by investing in a blended learning method.
Microsoft, by moving to video-based training, reduced the costs from £225 per learner to just £12.
Here is a brief guide explaining why blended learning should be seen as an investment and how you can measure its success, using an English language course as an example.
You are in control
Blended learning can be scheduled to be as flexible as possible. You can work around your employees’ needs by personalising the content and pace of the learning. The training can be tailored to your company, or to a particular department, or you can use a standard course. With technology, the learning materials can be accessed whenever and wherever the employee chooses, fitting in with their workload, and revisiting materials to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This also serves to empower the employee.
You might wish to schedule time in the working week for all employees undergoing the training to meet and discuss what they are learning, and to catch up with an instructor to talk through any feedback or challenging aspects.
Getting the blend right
How you structure the blend of learning will depend on what you want to achieve as a company. You might opt for a webinar followed by a group conversation, or self-paced web-based activities where the learning is followed up with one-to-one tutoring. Perhaps training via videoconference reinforced with a face-to-face meeting with the trainer would work well for your programme. The choice is yours.
Improve knowledge retention
People are more likely to retain knowledge when they are engaged in their learning, and there is a greater chance of being engaged when training is dynamic. Blended learning uses a variety of approaches and experiences that will engage employees and help them to retain what is being taught.
Most employees will have grown up as competent technology users. They will be confident communicating via email, text, social media, and video calls, and so blended learning approaches will be very relatable for them.
Blended learning gives you far more control over the training you offer your employees. You can tailor the content of the training offered, how it is offered, and when it is offered. By tailoring the training more precisely you can save on costs, while ensuring it is aligned with the aims and desired outcomes of your company.
Tracking and measuring progress
One of the most important questions for any company when considering training packages is how to measure success. Feedback forms offer some information, and tests that form part of the learning will add more information, as will certificates earned. Blended learning offers live analytics in terms of time spent online, progress through course materials, tests and activities undertaken, as well as a measure of how much each employee enjoyed the training using course evaluation forms.
Return on investment
Training involves an initial measurable cost, but should be viewed in terms of an investment in your staff. Of course, investment implies you get out more than you put in and so…choosing the right provider is key/choosing the right programme is vital/ something here or it sounds negative.
Perhaps the most important measure of success for any training program is whether the resultant gain in knowledge and skills will make a marked improvement to your employee’s performance and how well that helps the team, department, and ultimately the company achieve its targets or even or exceed expectations.
This simple formula is useful for measuring ROI:
Perceived monetary benefits following the training – cost of training x 100 = % ROI
This would give you a percentage figure that would very clearly explain how the training has benefited the company or how well your team has performed within the company.
The challenge is knowing how to measure the benefits in monetary value, especially if you are working with soft skills, such as languages.
There are many criteria you can choose from to measure success, specific to your company. For example, here is the example of a company that wants to increase its levels of spoken English across its sales team:
You might make a cost saving on outsourcing work to companies with greater spoken English proficiency.
You might see a measurable increase in productivity as language confidence improves.
There might be an increase in sales calls made to new territories or countries.
New revenue streams might become available.
You might see improved levels of communication and collaboration between offices if you are a multinational company.
These can all be measured against the cost of training to reveal a real-world ROI, which can be used when pitching for any future training budget.
To calculate an accurate ROI, you will need to be clear on what you consider post-training success to be, over what timescale you are measuring it (a month, six months, a year, for example), and what you are including in your costs. Once you have your criteria, the calculation is fairly easy. A high percentage indicates that training has been a success and therefore that it has been a good investment. A high ROI might also determine whether your company uses the training and its delivery method again.
Another way of assessing ROI is to look at the ‘payback period’. Clive Shepherd suggests looking at how many months it takes for the training benefits to pay for the cost. The shorter the timescale, the better the ROI, and the stronger the case for using that training again.
Blended learning has the advantage of ‘economies of scale’; you can deliver the same training to far more people within your company more cheaply than using traditional means, which also improves your ROI.
We are specialists in workforce training solutions.
How can we help you?
Review your existing training processes and carry out a needs analysis
Test your employees’ skills levels
Recommend training options
What will you gain?
Cost-effective virtual training solutions
Increased employee engagement and confidence
Improved international communications leading to better business performance
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- Top tips for asking for a training budget
- 7 international communication tips for giving feedback
- 6 future work skills you should be developing now
- How to assess the language levels of your employees: a step-by-step guide
- How to adapt your cultural style and language for virtual networking
- Using training budgets for virtual training
- Tips for keeping your workforce motivated