E-learning in Your Reimagined Training Strategy
Monique Donahue, CHT
Director of E-Learning, Hilton Grand Vacations
As hotels and restaurants prepare to ramp operations back up once COVID-19 runs its course, the ability to offer remote training options to employees is crucial. Fortunately, as an industry, we’re already well-positioned. According to a recent report by CHART and Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K), 86% of responding hospitality organizations currently use some form of e-learning training solutions.
However, the report also identified some areas of concern related to e-learning and areas of opportunity where e-learning can help.
A more blended approach to e-learning integration
While 86% of responding organizations are using some form of e-learning, it only accounts for about 16-26% of all training. The vast majority of training in the hospitality industry is still delivered on the job, especially for new hires. The report showed 67% of new hire training takes place on the job for restaurant hourly workers and 90% for hotel hourly workers. Being able to transition some of this training to e-learning will be key for organizations in the months to come.
Some tips for incorporating e-learning into a more blended approach include:
- Offer printable materials such as guides and workbooks that correspond with and enhance online content.
- Make core e-learning courses a prerequisite for attending instructor-led classes. The class should focus on applying the content learned in the online material.
- Keep e-learning content focused and concise: 5 minutes or less. Users are more likely to take advantage of (and remember!) short nuggets of information that they access “just in time,” when they need them.
- If your LMS platform supports it, offer customized suggestions for relevant content based on the user’s role and related courses and content they’ve already completed.
- Make it easy to find the content users need, with logical categories/catalogs and easy-to-use filtering and search tools.
- Use video-conference tools and/or discussion boards for instructor-led sessions of remote or distributed work groups.
Ways to offset the cost of producing more e-learning resources
39% of restaurant respondents and 75% of hotel respondents reported spending more on external training resources (including e-learning) in 2019 than they did in 2018. Many respondents (37.5% overall) expected this to increase further in 2020, while others noted the affordability of e-learning resources and increasing cost of technology as areas of major concern.
Our current economic climate will greatly impact those 2020 projections, and “doing more with less” will almost certainly be the reality for many organizations for the foreseeable future. So how do we lower expenditures in the face of reduced revenue and rising costs?
One way is with rapid e-learning authoring tools. All survey respondents report doing at least some of their content creation in-house already. You can make this process simpler, easier, and faster using tools designed to facilitate rapid development. These tools generally come with professional, pre-designed templates, intuitive interfaces, access to graphics libraries, and online user communities that can help if you get stuck.
Another low-cost option to consider is user-generated content. Your users are already familiar with this concept thanks to popular video-sharing websites like YouTube, so let them be the stars! Some companies have hosted competitions, allowing employees to submit short videos on various topics. The videos selected for training use are entered into a drawing for a prize. You’ll need to provide filming guidelines for video content/quality and establish an editorial committee to review submissions, but what better way to get your team members engaged and taking ownership of training?
Overcoming learning barriers like language and technological skills
An ongoing challenge for e-learning adoption is learning barriers within the employee population. These barriers can include things like language and technological skills.
Language: Survey data reported that only 19% of front-of-house and 51% of back-of-house training materials are bilingual. The good news is that some e-learning authoring tools, such as Articulate Storyline, make the process of translating easy. You can export the entire course into a Word document, send it to a translator with the provided template, and then import the translated document back into the course and voilà!—with a single click, you have a translated course.
Technological skills: According to the report, 74% of employees access e-learning on desktop/laptop computers at work, 63% on tablets at work, and 37% on their personal smartphones. But this doesn’t mean that everyone is comfortable doing so. Learning styles and generational differences can have a big impact on technological proficiency. When it comes to interacting with your courses, don’t assume that users already know what to do or how to do it.
Some ways to build user confidence include:
- Offer basic computer literacy courses for those who need it.
- Provide clear instructions for what to do on each screen.
- Incorporate easy and intuitive navigation that is standardized and consistent across all courses.
- Create an introductory video or course that walks users through how to use your e-learning platform and how to use course navigation controls.
- Set realistic expectations for how long a course will take to complete. Underestimating completion time adds stress for those who already feel “behind.”
Finding the right e-learning mix for your organization
E-learning is not, and should never be, a one-size-fits-all solution. But there is a growing place for it in our training toolbox as part of a blended learning approach. Its strengths lie in its scalability, reduced learning time, increased retention of information learned, and the consistency of information provided, time and time again, across multiple locations. In our new reality of social distancing and reduced resources, these are benefits that can’t be emphasized enough.