It’s no secret that often the cheapest – but perhaps not most efficient – way to train employees or customers is to gather them in your own conference rooms, pull your support staff away from their regular duties to manage the logistics and let the teaching begin.
If it were only that simple.
The reality is that planning, managing and executing a truly successful business training program is far more complex than simply deferring to such a quick-and-dirty solution that risks delivering ineffective, low-ROI results.
Before deciding whether to plan, manage and execute a training entirely in house or to partner with an outsourcing training delivery provider at an offsite training venue, it’s important to consider a multitude of factors that, if not thoroughly weighed, could have a disastrous impact on your organization’s long- and short-term goals. Here are six questions to ask when making the decision.
1. Does your in-house location provide students with an optimal learning environment?
Don’t underestimate the fundamental importance of holding your training event in a location designed specifically for learning. Modern training professionals have learned from countless academic and industry studies on the topic that where you conduct a training event can be as impactful as what you are teaching.
The premiere off-site learning centers provide catered meals and snacks to keep learners engaged, offer rooms designed for any style of instruction, and feature the little things that can make a big difference. There is a body of research concluding that there are many subtle classroom features that can enhance or detract from the learning experience. For example, bland, visually neutral environments can sometimes impede learning, while professional training rooms featuring organic elements such as plants can stimulate parts of the brain needed to absorb and retain knowledge.
2. Does your in-house facility have the capacity to handle the size of your learning group?
Not all meeting rooms are created equal. It is vital that a classroom or computer lab be optimized for the best learning experience. From room size and design to seating configuration and furniture, there are a multitude of reasons why a facility custom-designed for business learning is of fundamental importance.
One report recommends 15 to 17 square feet per participant and ceilings that are 10 feet or higher. The issue of adequate space becomes an even more important factor as the number of participants increases. The best training delivery providers offer optimized physical spaces for learning on a level few in-house facilities can offer. Simply put: When it comes to training rooms, size matters.
3. Will you need to include remote, off-site learners in your training?
Very few in-house venues offer the reliable technical services and support necessary to pull off a seamless learning experience between on- and off-site users. Your company might have to train a team of learners from locations across the globe all at once. Outsourcing virtual learning solutions to a training services company is often the best option, especially as the number of learners scales out to more than a few. To enable remote learners to participate through a virtual experience, ensure that the training location has the computers, connectivity and technical support services you need.
In order to optimize the learning experience, classrooms require much more than chairs and desks and a projector. The modern classroom must have the capacity to incorporate every member of your team, regardless of his or her location. A 2013 cyberpsychology study found that virtual training was as efficient as standard training with regard to knowledge acquisition, and it was even more efficient with regard to knowledge transfer. Virtual training capabilities are a must in the modern learning environment.
4. Does your in-house staff have time or capabilities matching those of outside training companies?
Planning and executing a training event, especially large-scale training, can be an experience akin to diving down the proverbial rabbit hole. There are so many details and unexpected issues that arise throughout every phase of a corporate training rollout. Typically, an outsourced location offers more than just real estate and can help you navigate all the managed services complexities (registrations, tracking stages, logistics, administrative services, etc.) that inevitably will require you and your team’s attention.
5. Is your in-house learning environment distraction-free?
Among the many challenges of on-site training is that your learners may not be solely focused on the knowledge transfer but instead may be inclined to “double-dip” and become distracted by their regular daily work duties. Sending your learners to an off-site, outsourced venue encourages them to put their phones away, stop chatting with co-workers and focus on learning.
6. Do your current training methods boost employee morale and knowledge?
Workplace interventions such as training can not only boost workers’ skills and self-confidence but benefit businesses as well. By reducing work stress and improving job performance through better knowledge and managerial attention, workers become more productive.
You may have heard at some point the cliché that “happy staff means retained staff.” By showing your team members that you care enough about their professional development to send them off site to a professional training facility, you increase the likelihood that they will retain not only more knowledge but also loyalty to your company. No business wants a high turnover rate, and delivering exceptional training in exceptional high-tech learning centers only helps.
As Entrepreneur magazine reported, research by Oxford Economics estimated the cost of a new hire at around $30,000, while the average annual investment for ongoing training is just $1,500 per employee. When it comes to training, every company wants to get the most bang for their buck. Taking the time to closely consider the comparative value of off-site options before implementing your next training program is paramount to your company’s success.