It’s almost passé to point out that employers are no longer driving learning for their people. These days, employees themselves are in the driver’s seat. Indeed, a recent survey found that 42% of employees pursued training on their own after the coronavirus outbreak. Today, they’re the ones in charge of expanding their skills. But that doesn’t mean that companies are sitting in the back seat. Organizations must still focus on providing opportunities to meet employees’ needs.
In doing so, one of the main questions that employers must ask themselves is whether external off-the-shelf courses or internally developed training is best for their people. Here are key criteria to help decide.
1. Training Budget
Sometimes, it comes down to money (or maybe it always does!). But it also comes down to the goals you’re looking to achieve.
If you want to create teams that will work effectively on a common goal directly associated with your product, developing an in-house training program may be your wiser option. An existing member of your team who’s familiar with your product or services can be in charge of training, which can help you save on expenses. On the other hand, if your employees are lacking essential hard or soft skills, purchasing ready-made courses might be the right way to go, especially since many vendors allow a decent degree of configuration or customization.
2. Number of Learners
How many employees do you want to train? Is it a team? A department? The whole company? The more employees, the more difficult it would be to scale internal training.
Similarly, if you have no expansion plans and the number of employees is intended to remain the same over the next two years, ready-made courses can be a simple solution. But if your company is set to expand, in-house training is the better way to assure consistent training both for existing employees and new hires. The main reason is because you’ll need to continually customize your training to the changing needs of your business as it grows..
3. Existing Expertise
Trainers need training. Despite their level of familiarity with your company, a trainer needs to have acquired skills such as communication and adaptability to train employees effectively. If you already have capable individuals on your team with the right personality traits to teach, building an in-house training program might make sense.
However, if finding the right internal trainer sounds like a time-consuming, difficult task, you may consider launching your program with ready-made online courses. This will save time, and you won’t have to speed things up and compromise quality.
4. Time to Invest
Developing a successful employee training program is hard. It takes a lot of time. If your plate is full, don’t bother developing a program. You can, of course, upload PDF files on a training platform, but that’s hardly an engaging, impactful way to teach most people knowledge and skills. In which case you should probably go with a course provider.
5. Learner Adoption
Of course, training is a two-way street. Translation: You’ve got to take account of how your people prefer to learn. The best way is to ask them. Survey your people to discover preferences around in-person vs online training. Make sure your questions will yield data that will help you determine which skills people prefer to learn formally vs informally, in-person vs online, in a group vs individually, and so forth. Meanwhile, you can also conduct assessments to gauge preferences and tie those to skills, proficiency, etc. By gaining an understanding of your learning culture, you’re more likely to provide the opportunities that people will actually want to access, without feeling like they’ve been voluntold to do something.
But Do You Really Have To Choose?
The reality is that your choice between externally vs internally produced isn’t necessarily a choice at all. In all likelihood, the best solution will be a combination of options that depend on the factors above. Mixing external and internal training resources can ultimately help you build a first-class program.