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The Decline of Classroom Training

June 8th, 2018 by Jennifer Doherty, Inspiring HR

Retro isn’t always cool…

According to a 2016 survey of learning and development (L&D) professionals, 78% of training programs rely on in-person classroom training as the primary teaching strategy. And yet, in the same study, L&D professionals admit that getting employees to physically attend these trainings is a top challenge, second only to budget.

The webinar was born to address those training hurdles of time and money. It eliminates the expense of sending employees off-site to learn from a subject expert or bringing that expert on-site. Instructor fees, travel, and material costs vanish when an in-person expert is replaced by an expert on video. Additionally, time away from work is significantly reduced.

But even with the advent of the webinar, the delivery method changed while the actual training method remained constant – a classroom learning model that is non-participatory and lecture-based.

This means most trainings continue to follow a learning model that is, quite literally, old school.

“Organizations are still trying to reach today’s learners with yesterday’s tactics.” – Tanya Staples, Sr.  Director of Content and Production for LinkedIn Learning.

Picture an average school classroom of the last 10 or 15 years. Students aren’t being droned at by the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They’re using technology and project-based learning. They’re working collaboratively in groups. And many of those former students are in the workforce right now.

In the context of L&D, the most important change ushered in by millennials is simply the extent to which they value learning opportunities in general. Millennials lived through the economic uncertainty of the great recession. As a result, they want opportunities to grow their skills and stay marketable throughout their long careers.

In fact, in a 2016 Manpower survey of almost 2,000 millennials, 93% said they wanted life-long learning opportunities. And in Deliotte’s 2016 Millennial Survey, millennials revealed that they value career development opportunities over salary.

This is a real wake up call to companies planning to hire sometime in the next, well, 30 years. Essentially, any company that doesn’t provide on-going learning opportunities might lose out on 95 million potential employees, which can make it a little tough to stay competitive.

But as it turns out, millennials aren’t particularly interested in the teaching methods of their parents’ generation. So, what is it they’re looking for? And why?

Let’s make this quick, shall we?

Training that is interesting, convenient, focused, and engaged is the goal of millennial-friendly training and development.

Think of TED Talks. They’re capped at 18-minutes. Why? Because that’s long enough to be interesting and short enough to be convenient. The upper limit is purposefully low to keep the speaker focused and the audience engaged, two essential elements for effective learning.

For purposes of workplace learning, small and targeted segments of information mean that employees can learn something new while drinking their morning coffee and in short order are on the job, applying that very information to their work day. They can start the training at a point that matches their personal skill set, and not waste time reviewing information they already know. It’s a learning model that has tremendous appeal to employees and management.

It’s no surprise, then, that current and upcoming revelations to the L&D world provide training that is:

  1. Convenient – Video-based and accessible from mobile devices
  2. Instantaneous – Available 24/7
  3. Collaborative – Peer-to-peer, project-based
  4. Quick – Micro-learning/nano-learning modules; purposefully short teaching segments that, when put together, create an entire lesson on a specific topic
  5. Continuous – Short modules that connect to a larger whole, so employees can delve deeper into subjects that appeal to them and that are applicable to their career path

But, wait! There’s more.

Training doesn’t need technology

What’s really interesting about this modern workforce is that for all the slack they receive for being technology-obsessed, some of their most desired training methods actually don’t involve technology at all.

Remember that this generation experienced the benefits of collaborative, project-based work from a young age. As a result, they also place high value on learning opportunities that have absolutely nothing to do with a computer screen, such as:

  1. Mentoring – providing guidance and advice to someone less experienced
  2. Coaching – working with someone to attain a specific goal or result
  3. Cross-training – teaching one employee the skills necessary to perform two or more roles within a company
  4. Job-rotation – a formalization of the cross-training relationship, where an employee officially shifts between two or more defined roles at regular intervals

The purpose of employee trainings is to educate the workforce, but it’s time to break the stereotypical mold of what training “should be”. By understanding who your trainees are, what motivates them, and aligning these with your business goals, you can create the right mix of learning opportunities that recruit, train, engage, and retain your employees.

Click the link to view the recent INFINITI HR blog: Pre-Employment Show vs. Tell or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance and benefits.
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