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How Online Learning Can Help Your Business Stay Competitive in a Changing Market

“If you think learning is expensive – try ignorance.” – Derek Bok, president of Harvard University. 

There’s an idea today that learning is costly and, as such, it’s something that employees should do on their own time and their dime. That’s part of why employers set education-related job requirements that often have little to do with the duties required by the position. Requiring “a 4-year degree” is a generic way of communicating that you expect potential employees to have invested in themselves through education, usually so that you don’t have to.

The problem with this stance is that it leads to stagnation and the loss of your competitive edge. Instead, ongoing learning and development (L&D) is a critical consideration when faced with changing markets like those today, particularly when coupled with online learning platforms. 

Of course, you must choose the correct education delivery method (in-person, off-site, etc.). Online learning can offer powerful solutions that enable your business to remain competitive, even in the face of significant market upheavals.

Online Learning Saves Time and Boosts Efficiency

Education can be time-consuming and inefficient. According to a McKinsey survey, only 25% of respondents believed their training measurably improved their performance. A Gartner report points out that 70% of employees feel that they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs even after completing traditional training. 

It’s not just about efficiency, however. There’s the time commitment to consider. Every minute an employee is involved in learning and development is a minute they’re not working to boost performance. Online learning requires 40-60% less employee time than traditional learning.

Personalization Makes Learning More Relevant

Picture this: you have 500 students enrolled in a particular L&D program. Every employee completes the same coursework, listens to the same lectures, and takes the same quizzes and tests. How many of those 500 students do you think felt that the content was particularly relevant to them? Very few. 

That’s because learning and development is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has their own pace, stumbling blocks, and strengths. Each employee’s learning path should be tailored to them. Online learning offers immense personalization to tailor the process better and ensure that your employees have the most relevant experience.

Personalization is about more than delivering content tailored to interests, job roles, or career paths. Individuals learn at different paces, so content should flow to fit that rate. Other people will struggle with various aspects of the content – the program should be flexible enough to recalibrate content to provide extra help when and where necessary. Content should also be worked into channels that employees already use, taken out of the formal L&D environment, and put into the everyday world of Slack, Asana, Gmail, and the like.

Enhances Profitability

Online learning’s innate flexibility, ease of personalization, and unique delivery possibilities also mean good things for the organization’s bottom line. As early as 2017, up to 42% of US organizations had seen an increase in income traceable to better training. That percentage has only grown over the intervening years.

How does online learning boost profitability? It’s all about leveraging efficiencies and enhancing your employees’ abilities to do their jobs, combined with other benefits that reskilling and upskilling bring to the table, like enhanced engagement, improved employee retention, and greater satisfaction. 

Opportunities for Continuous Learning and Development

Employees’ development needs don’t stop just because they’ve landed a full-time job. Growth is part of being human. We all want to grow and thrive. We all need new things to challenge us and make us feel alive. 

According to a study by Lorman, 34% of employees who left their jobs did so for career development opportunities. In contrast, a study by LinkedIn Learning highlights that 94% of employees would remain with an employer if that organization invested in their learning and development. 

By providing employees with the required opportunities to learn and grow, you keep them engaged, reduce churn, cut the costs of hiring and onboarding new hires, and enhance employee loyalty. According to Payscale, employee turnover can cost you 100% to 150% of their salary. That doesn’t touch on the reduced productivity during a new employee’s onboarding process, either. 

Staying Up to Date with the Latest Trends and Technologies

We live in a technology-driven world. The software we use to communicate, deliver presentations, track sales success, and handle other responsibilities changes constantly. Just witness the rise of CRMs and CMSs, the advent of automation, and the evolution of algorithms that allow you to model customer behavior and make more accurate predictions. 

The challenge is that your employees likely don’t know how to use these tools and technologies. With online learning, that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s possible to deliver customized training ideally suited to individual employees’ needs and job duties that allow them to stay up with the latest trends and technologies. That translates to improved efficiency, increased productivity, less downtime, and an enhanced ability to compete within your industry. 

The Flexibility Modern Business Demands

Carving chunks of time out of your day for learning can be challenging. Online learning offers the flexibility necessary so employees can learn without sacrificing too much of their day. It’s all about avoiding a rigid schedule like what you would find with traditional in-person learning. 

Online learning provides flexibility in several ways:

  • Place – With eLearning, your employees aren’t tied to a specific physical location during learning. For instance, in the past, they might have had to attend a lecture in person or use the organization’s training department and specific equipment to complete their training. Online learning allows them to complete coursework anywhere from their workstations and mobile devices. 
  • Time – Employees used to be limited to completing training during regular business hours. Often, they had to miss time in the office, too. Online learning is flexible enough that workers can complete coursework whenever it fits their schedule, including during downtime (although you’ll still need to compensate them even if they’re training out of the office).
  • Devices – The days of employees having to use workstations in the training department to complete coursework are gone. Most eLearning platforms are flexible enough that employees can use any device connected to the intranet, including smartphones and tablets. That offers increased convenience and the chance to complete their studies on different devices as they move through their day. That speaks to continuity.

Enhanced Information Retention

It doesn’t matter how training is delivered if your employees don’t retain the information. The good news is that online learning can dramatically boost information retention – by up to 60% over traditional training, according to the Research Institute of America

You’ll find some surprising reasons for that increase, too. First, employees have more control over the learning process itself. Control and customization speak directly to engagement, which drives retention. Being able to revisit training content as needed is another reason. Employees can retake training as necessary to master content or to refresh as necessary.

Give Employees What They Want

According to PwC, 37% of employees are worried about automation putting jobs at risk. Further, 74% are ready to learn new skills or retrain to ensure they’re employable. What that means for employers is that employees want training opportunities.

The fears about AI replacing jobs are genuine and very raw. With the rise of generative AI, we’re seeing creative pursuits like writing, art/graphic design, and many others taken over by algorithms. They’re even making inroads into healthcare recommendations and culinary pursuits. 

By giving employees access to online learning modules, you give them precisely what they want – an opportunity to upskill or reskill so they can remain relevant in a changing world. That instills confidence in them while also enhancing retention and loyalty, two priceless metrics that inevitably speak to organizational success.

Online Learning Helps Employees Deal with a Weird New World

We live in unprecedented times in terms of technological advancement. It feels like everything is in flux, even the role of human beings as creators. Online learning helps your employees deal with this strange new world, whether through reskilling to avoid being replaced by AI or upskilling to move forward in their careers with your organization. For employers, online learning offers the chance to create a more loyal, engaged workforce of highly trained professionals and become more competitive than ever.

March 15, 2023