Most organizations are still experiencing the repercussions of COVID-19, especially when it comes to the training and development of their employees. As many of these organizations are still working remotely, L&D professionals have had to get creative with their employee training programs. In order to avoid disruption in development of your teams, virtual training solutions have been put in place and present a lot of opportunity for a new approach to the way L&D material is delivered now and in the future.
Transitioning to a virtual environment encompasses more than just simply holding a Zoom meeting. It is critical to understand what will work for your employees and what programs you should focus on. How can you gauge the effectiveness of training being delivered virtually? Are you consistently meeting the needs of your learners?
Challenges for Virtual Delivery Environments
The L&D world has faced many challenges for the development of their employees over the last year. To deliver value and ROI from your virtual training programs, you must first overcome some common challenges.
- Training programs are often seen as a cost, not an investment. When senior management is looking to save money or cut back on expenses, training programs are often one of the first things to go. By showing the importance that learning programs can deliver to the overall ROI and growth of a company, senior management will be more likely to support it as an investment.
- Virtual learning environments are often missing one key factor: management support. In typical instructor-led sessions, employees come together with the leadership teams to participate. With virtual environments, managers are typically missing from the equation as employees are training more on their own time. Management needs to show consistency, involvement, and support in training programs for a virtual environment to be effective.
- Multitasking or distractions present themselves more in virtual learning environments. With traditional instructor-led sessions, this can often be mitigated by being in the same room. You need to manage the virtual learning environment by good design, activities such as polls and surveys, and engagement to remove any opportunity for multitasking and distraction.
By taking some of the challenges into account, you are able to prevent the delivery of your virtual training programs from failing. Your organization needs to recognize that although virtual learning can be effective, there is more to it then just setting up the Zoom calls. Switching from traditional in-person training to virtual delivery will present its own set of challenges. Below you will find some tips on how to ensure that your learners and organization are getting the most out of virtual training programs.
Tips for implementing and delivering effective virtual training:
- Have the right technology in place. What types of platforms do you need in place to deliver a successful and effective training experience for your employees? Nothing is more frustrating than a meeting that crashes or people who are unable to stay engaged. For example, Zoom is a great option for smaller groups with a lot of open dialogue.
- Have the right people in place. While in traditional training classrooms there is often only one instructor, multiple instructors can be extremely beneficial for virtual delivery. You will want to consider having an IT person on stand-by (you know, in case the presentation stops working mid-slide) and someone to facilitate the presentation itself, such as slide transitions and monitoring Q&A.
- Set clear expectations. What do the employees need before and after the training sessions? It is helpful to provide your teams with materials prior to the training so they can be prepared. What follow-up is planned, if any? Have you considered performance support?
- Invest in tools to keep employees engaged and always learning. It is easier to get distracted during a virtual training session… outside noise, phone notifications, kids crying, emails coming in. Try to keep your employees engaged throughout virtual training sessions by utilizing tools such as polling questions and surveys or interactive whiteboards.
- Create conversation and open dialogue. In a virtual environment, it is important to create conversation between yourself and the employees. Although this can be tough through a Zoom session or the issue arises of people talking over one another, consider putting into place a process where they raise their hand or share an emoji to indicate the desire to talk. Reward active participation and encourage your attendees to keep their video cameras on.
For your virtual delivery to be effective, it will require a strong facilitator and planning. If you ensure a great experience for your employees through informative and engaging content, you will increase the effectiveness and retention. Better yet, when you are implementing an effective virtual delivered training programs, your organization has the ability to save valuable time, resources, and money.