One of the first things I hear when we talk to companies about experiential elearning is, “What will it cost me?” And as often as I hear it, I’m still amazed that so many business executives today continue to see training as just an expense. It seems that when faced with the need to invest in their staff, the first thing they see are dollar signs that hit them where it hurts.
It’s perfectly understandable that budget managers who are constantly bombarded with demands to cut costs look to training as their first target. After all, investing in people takes money, resources and time away from revenue-generating activities.
Sadly, what they fail to see when they wipe learning from the balance sheet is that they are undermining the organization’s bottom line rather than bolstering it.
In 1998, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) studied workplace learning practices and the results of training at 540 US corporations. The study was the “first concrete evidence that showed that companies who invest more heavily in workplace training are more successful and profitable.” Some of the world’s most respected business executives agreed…
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Andy Groves, president, CEO and Chairman of Intel Corporation (1979…1998)
But investing in training isn’t enough – one must invest in “effective” training because as we all know, not all training is created equal.
High- and low-fidelity experiential learning has been shown time and time again to provide a higher capacity for critical thinking and the successful application of knowledge retention, particularly in complex situations. It provides structured reflection that helps participants link their experiences with theory, deepening their understanding and ability to implement what they have learned.
High-fidelity simulations, often expensive in terms of capital investments and participants’ time, should be used only to replicate challenging, high-risk situations (e.g. flight simulations, military maneuvers, high-risk medical procedures, etc.).
Low-fidelity experiential simulations through elearning solutions such as Praxis have proven to be highly effective and are much more affordable because they save on:
- Capital costs needed to replicate a real-life, physical simulation environment
- Travel expenses for participants (including employee downtime during transit)
- Printing and distribution costs of training materials
- Training development expenses due to the use of low cost (and often free) online resources (e.g. audio files, videos, animations, imagery, etc.) that help replicate real-life experiences
- Previous simulations resources can be applied/adapted for future exercise making updates easier, cheaper and faster to build. This is particularly useful in businesses where changes in regulations or legislation require immediate changes to course modules.
“There is very strong evidence that e-learning reduces the total cost of training when compared to instructor led training.” Brandon Hall, 1995
But cost savings is only half of the equation. Businesses still need to perform a benefits analysis as part of the training plan to provide an accurate ROI for the investment.
Assigning dollar signs to experiential elearning benefits can be different depending on the type of business. But it’s crucial for managers to take the time to calculate the potential gains on the desired outcomes of the training, including:
- Increasing capacity and effectiveness of existing employees to save on hiring new staff
- Faster learning which translates into more productive staff, more quickly
- Reduction in retraining costs through experiential learning proven to help participants retain knowledge longer
- Reducing churn by helping staff master skills that motivate them in their work
- Growing communities of practice that help businesses refine and streamline processes, address issues and improve the overall performance of the enterprise
- Experiential elearning gives participants common points of reference and a new vernacular when they return to work, helping them better apply lessons learned as a team. These intangible benefits can also infiltrate the corporate culture providing value to others through knowledge transfer within their community of practice.
Savvy business executives today know that what worked in the past no longer works in today’s highly disruptive world. The speed of change in technology and society has made traditional skills training virtually a waste of time.
Which is why experiential elearning adoption is gaining momentum throughout North America and Europe where the competitive landscape is becoming larger and more complex.
If you’ve considered experiential elearning for your organization, but still have questions as to the value it can bring to your teams and organization’s bottom line, let’s talk.