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E-learning and why it makes good business sense

young female person studying online using a computerStaff Training. Two little words that amount to considerable expenditure for business each and every year.

It is estimated that businesses spend over $9 billion worldwide per year to train their staff. And with more and more employees, particularly millennials, opting to switch jobs more frequently, companies are now seeking new and innovative ways to retain existing staff and stretch their training dollar even further.

One new way is the utilisation of e-learning initiatives. E-learning is an emerging sector that involves learning via electronic means, typically the internet. And in recent years, organisations are moving towards the use of e-learning to induct, upskill, train and retain staff.

Previously staff training consisted of classroom style settings, where staff gathered together and training was delivered by an educator. Once thought to be an effective method to reach a broad spectrum of staff on a single occasion, this style of education can often overwhelm individuals who feel challenged by structured teaching styles. This method may also allow staff members to overshadow their peers, and those who take longer to grasp concepts can feel left behind in the group atmosphere.

E-learning allows staff to set their own pace for learning within the constraints of the program – they can seek further clarification from their facilitator and even chat offline with fellow team members and management to better understand content and manoeuvre through course work. Teaching plans can be adapted for each employee or a whole team with greater fluidity than previously achieved with traditional workplace training methods.

What are the benefits of e-learning?

  • Can increase morale and engagement
  • Foster the sharing of ideas between team members
  • Increased sense of purpose
  • Flexible working conditions
  • Increased productivity and enthusiasm for work and personal development
  • No minimum numbers required for online training
  • Can assess and alter content as required.

While the benefits of e-learning to both employees and employers are extensive, it is important to note that there are some perceived limitations regarding the effectiveness of e-learning. Some individuals find the online structure less conducive to learning than a traditional classroom setting where ideas and questions are raised in real time. There are also greater levels of self-motivation required to study in the online space; for an individual that requires constant encouragement, this style of learning may be less appealing and ultimately less satisfying. The open dialogue between teacher and student can be lacking in the online space if the facilitator is not engaged with their team. The human element is such a vital component of learning, and it’s suggested that the online space does not provide enough depth for a person’s overall understanding.

How does a workplace capitalise on e-learning and overcome these perceived limitations?

Utilising a combination of online training programs followed with face to face forums can ensure full capitalisation of the materials. Importantly, this blend of facilitation will help capture different learning styles of the whole team and ensure the business has received quality return on investment for its training expenditure. If an organisation seeks to recruit millennials (and who won’t be – it is estimated that millennials will account for a staggering 75% of Australia’s workforce by 2025!), then adapting your business’ workforce development strategy to include e-learning is vital. No two staff members are the same, so why not consider initiating an online training strategy for your business and reap the benefits of offering innovative and tailored learning opportunities for your whole team!

Joanne Bagg (Support Consultant)

Jo is a qualified business professional with a Major in Tourism and Enterprise Management and over ten years’ experience working with a range of organisations including local government and not-for-profit organisations. She is dedicated and passionate about working with businesses to achieve overall success. Jo has a keen interest in organisational change and development, with a specific focus on performance management and development. Jo provides an exceptional level of customer service, administrative and organisational skills with all clients across many industries.