Sustaining Training’s Impact

Time plays a key role in business. It has a meaningful impact on how corporate training programs are developed, whether it’s the speed of delivery, the length of the program, the time the learner interacts with the materials, the time the behavior is demonstrated by the employee after the training, or the introduction of tools and technologies that can get information to learners quickly.

Looking across three research studies, I have collected a group of factors demonstrating the impact of time or speed on training programs. Time is a major constraint in the delivery of training – creating tension between desire for shorter training and longer impact.

In the Training Industry and ON24 research study, “Using Virtual Environments for Leadership Development,” 68 percent of respondents cited that sustaining the impact of training is a key challenge. What’s interesting to note is that the drive to shorten the duration of the programs crosses with the notion of effectively sustaining the impact of the program. In this study, we looked at the length of leadership development programs, and found that more than half of leadership development programs last one week or less (see Figure 1).

Chart 11

Interestingly, the companies that felt their program was effective actually had longer programs, ultimately sustaining the impact of training by extending the entire program (see Figure 2).

Chart2

In a related piece of research, “Strategies for Sustaining the Impact of Sales Training,” we found that continuous training leads to sustained impact. Effective organizations utilize more pre-training strategies for sustaining training and post-training reinforcement, logically extending the program, but making it more impactful.

One of the key problems that these longer more effective programs introduce to the learning management team is the potential for cost increases. Logically, longer programs cost more to support and deliver. So the learning leader is challenged to find new ways to make these programs happen, and we see it in true blended solutions, including face-to-face training, e-learning, adoption of tools such as virtual training platforms, or digital e-readers to make the materials and reinforcement available when the employee needs it, or more importantly, has time to consume it or participate.

Cost and Sustainability

While our research has shown that long-term, continuous training programs are more effective at sustaining the impact of training, cost is still a critical factor in terms of delivery. Using cost-effective resources to leverage information can help offset the cost of long-term training initiatives, such as digital e-readers, virtual training and e-learning.

From the same research on the use of virtual platforms in leadership development, 51 percent of organizations use a virtual delivery platform in support of their company’ program, often cited as one of the soft skills that benefits most from face-to-face, experiential learning .

In another, soon-to-be-published study on the use of e-readers in the support of corporate training programs, we found that roughly 59 percent of respondents currently use digital e-reader platforms to deliver corporate training content (see Figure 3).

Chart3

Access was the number one benefit of using digital content delivery platforms as part of corporate training programs allowing the learner to access the content at any location, at any time with quicker reach to the entire group of participants. These digital content delivery platforms also provide the benefit of improved consistency and reduce the cost of revisions to the training materials.  Being able to quickly and inexpensively update reference materials or inserting a session on a topic that appears to need more reinforcement allows for improved agility in the program makeup, and potentially continuous realignment to the company goals.

Additionally, effective companies are 50 percent more likely to include self-study online and e-learning training as an element of their leadership development program, according to the ON24 research report. We are beginning to see an increase in the use of blended learning approaches in key focus areas like leadership development emerge in the training marketplace. There is also increasing pressure from the learner pool to provide program elements in the modality they chose. This provides a clear picture for the future direction of corporate learning surrounding key change initiative like leadership development.

Summary

The most effective companies are those that utilize long-term or continuous training programs to sustain the impact of training. Regardless of budget, companies are looking for cost-effective ways to deliver the training, including the introduction of digital e-readers, virtual training and self-study into the learning program. A blended learning approach helps the program sustain the impact of the training while keeping the cost in check as the programs begin to span longer periods of time.

For more information: www.eFOURlearning.com

Originally posted by: Ken Taylor, Ken is Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Training Industry, Inc., and editor in chief for Training Industry Magazine.

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