We recently read a series of articles about companies and their falling confidence in the Learning and Development solutions for their staff. While we haven’t seen this among our clients, we do recognize that many companies jump quickly at any chance to empower their workers.
The prospect of bringing courses to employees easily and inexpensively through LMS seemed smart from a cost / return point of view. For any business with a corporate credit card, suppliers were quick to offer basic business skills courses, responsive to tablet and smartphone. Companies believed offering employees the opportunity to develop new skills would give them tools that could improve productivity at the discrete, employee level, provide tangible opportunity for advancement and enable them to justify paying newly skilled employees higher salaries.
Add to this the oft discussed “Great Resignation” that accompanied the Covid Era. Companies believed that they could train their people into new opportunities simply by signing up for a skills course subscription. The intention came from a good place. Companies believed that if they could keep employees vested and bring new intra-company opportunities, then hopefully they would stick around.
MOOCs and “Experts”
MOOCs had already been around for years. Companies like Coursera and Udemy promised engaged learners and “thousands of courses by experts”. Even LinkedIn and Salesforce jumped into the mix. From a company perspective it was hard to ignore. Convenient box-checking.
Except it didn’t work. The training was too general. The best people didn’t benefit or didn’t even login. They were too busy being productive.
Next companies started to build their own training using out of the box LMS and drag and drop course building software like Moodle. The theory was “we can do it better for our company.” Maybe a little better, but it takes real training expertise to provide effective real-world, applicable training.
Costs and Deployments
The cost of doing it right is always a factor. Companies offering real training expertise are generally consulting groups (think McKinsey) who cobble together what they believe are the best resources and then fit them to a company’s work skills culture. This was a step in the right direction. It was a bit better but the costs for most midsized companies were unrealistic and the results were only marginally improved (according to the clients we work with who went this elite route.)
So, it’s really no surprise that the viral age of on-line training courses for employee development has reached a lull.
A Final Thought
Training for your company should not be seen as self-help or dare we say “enrichment”. It should be aligned clearly with your company’s specific requirements and goals for each critical position. Both a foundation and a steppingstone. But only a portion of training should be in course form. The rest should be in the field and offered sparingly to the recognized, often self-selected, “up-and-comers” who will advance your company productively and consistently. They are the Believers. They are aligned with the mission. They are “The Motivated”.