In times of financial turmoil, organisations often look upon training as a soft target and so it becomes one of the first budgets to be reduced or even cut completely. Yet this can prove a false economy, warns the organisation development consultancy, Echelon.
”While training should take its fair share of budget cuts, failure to develop staff hits competence, motivation, productivity and, ultimately, customer service and profitability – just at the time when finding and keeping customers is vital,” explained Echelon’s CEO, Alistair Morrison.
“When everyone else is following the traditional line of reducing training spend, it’s important to gain competitive advantage by maintaining your investment in people and performance,” he added. “However, this can now be done at a significantly lower cost.”
Morrison argues that traditional classroom-based training alone is both expensive and time-consuming – commodities which are likely to be in short supply for the foreseeable future.
Morrison added: “For many subjects, this can be replaced with equally educationally-effective but lower-cost interactive, online learning. Text-based and fully-featured e-learning further reduces costs and administrative overheads.
”Text is a familiar medium to learners and, with proper pedagogical design, is a dynamic and engaging form of study.
“A wide range of interactive devices can be incorporated to make the learning fully immersive, together with self-assessment to reinforce study and provide evidence of understanding and progress. The addition of graphics, audio and video elements can be achieved economically where their use is essential for the learning design.”
Echelon’s more than 20 years of experience has shown, time and again, the value of online learning because it creates the initial knowledge and then remains available to remind people of that knowledge when they require it in their jobs.
”Echelon has built a library of more than 2,000 generic learning modules that offers even lower-cost access to quality learning and development,” Morrison said.
”Developed using our own authoring tool and content management system (CMS), we can produce materials both quickly and economically and then publish to print, online and mobile devices.
“The authoring tool uses Microsoft Word as its author interface, enabling client staff to collaborate in the development of materials and to take future editing and updating in-house using a familiar tool.
”Well-designed text-based learning delivers knowledge and skills efficiently and can be deployed quickly – which is another bonus in times of rapid change,” he said.
“So, rather than follow ‘conventional wisdom’ of only developing staff when times are good, Echelon firmly recommends that organisations invest wisely now to capture new customers and retain employee and customer loyalty.
“Moreover, this should give your organisation a head start when the economy revives – and provide a competitive edge when you most need it,” Morrison concluded.