Skill gaps and lack of focus can be overlooked and without access to training, cause a big dent in productivity. What starts out as a legitimate Google search for an Excel tip, soon turns into a Wikipedia wormhole and waste of time. This scenario occurs in virtually every office with internet access, and is a definite obstacle to productivity. Encouraging employees to engage with e-learning as their go-to source of information to find the answers they need can reduce the frequency of distractions and increase productivity.

Engagement and empowerment

So how does a company best present their online training to get employees to engage, and reap the rewards of increased productivity? Ideally the delivery of their e-learning system should provide flexibility, customization and familiar content formats. Approximately 65 percent of people are visual learners and their propensity for watching videos online shows no signs of slowing down. The video component of e-learning helps to increase engagement by delivering content in a familiar, episodic fashion. This ties in with microlearning, which is known to increase both engagement and knowledge retention by breaking learning down into manageable increments.

Including interactive elements inspired by games, such as quizzes or unlocking your next lesson only by successfully completing your current one, has been shown to challenge people to learn and increase the knowledge retention rate. Research conducted by University of Colorado professor, Traci Sitzmann, found that trainees learned more when actively participating through interactive game elements rather than passively observing, and their post training self-efficacy was 20% higher than the control group.  Having an e-learning program comprised of a combination of audio-visual, written and interactive components gives learners freedom to utilize whichever learning style best suits them, and engage with the material more readily.

Customization and costs

The customization afforded by e-learning allows employees to access relevant content at their own pace, and review material as many times as necessary. Information can be accessed as needed and applied practically, rather than learned and forgotten at a formal training session weeks earlier. The ownership and control provided to learn what matters most to them at any one time can result in a 60 percent faster learning curve than traditional in-person training. The time saved on training can be spent putting the knowledge and skills learned into practice, whether exceeding a sales target, completing a project on spec or improving the customer experience.

E-learning is scalable, and can be rolled out to more departments as the needs of the company change. As the skills needed for certain roles evolve, e-learning can be customized to specific, relevant content for employees without breaking the bank. As the saying goes, time is money, and e-learning has been shown to provide considerable savings by reducing time spent on training. It also offers savings on costs for external trainers, travel, materials and time spent out of the business. Case in point, after switching from traditional to online training, IBM delivered five times the amount of training for only one third of the cost – a saving of $200 million dollars. An IBM report found that investing in training can positively impact employee retention rates, with new employees 43% more likely to stay at a new job when training is provided. The recruitment process is often costly and time consuming, so an investment in e-learning is worthwhile to retain valuable employees from the get-go. The impact a skilled workforce can have on productivity is extremely beneficial, including faster rollouts, meeting higher sales targets, and increased customer and client satisfaction. The same IBM report estimates that every dollar spent on e-learning returns thirty dollars’ worth of productivity, which is a tangible return on investment.

With impressive statistics abound, it’s no wonder that over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies have implemented e-learning at their organizations. If employees are provided with the tools they need to get tasks done, they are shown that they are worthy of investment in training and trusted to take charge of their own learning experience. An organization that focuses on priming valued, empowered employees with the knowledge and skills required to work to the best of their ability is more than likely to see a marked increase in productivity.