Tight Training Budget? Get Your Employees to Create the Content

Training material generated from a learning needs analysis, followed by instructional design, and then delivered by an expert trainer will be of high quality — but it’s an expensive model. An alternative is to rely mainly on content generated by employees.

Employee generated content has become important because it is now almost trivially easy for employees to make little videos sharing some piece of knowledge. The videos could be about almost any task: how to fix a machine, how to fill in an expense form, or how to handle an angry customer returning merchandise.

The technology for managing and sharing these learning videos is readily available; Feathercap is an example. Tim Seager, the company’s CEO, says Feathercap is like adding the equivalent of YouTube to your enterprise, complete with rankings that help point employees to the best content.

Even though the main reason for this kind of platform is learning, I suspect it could also have a big impact on employee engagement. People like to share their knowledge; making learning videos offers a creative outlet to people in routine jobs.

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Given how natural it’s become for the average person to do this sort of content creation, I can’t imagine “YouTube for the enterprise” not becoming a critical pillar of any organization’s learning strategy.

What is interesting?

  • I find the idea of this approach to learning fascinating because it disrupts our existing methods. However, Tim Seager says that the main reason companies adopt it is not because it’s fascinating, it’s simply because they can’t afford to create all the training they want any other way.

What is really important?

  • Often managers are not much inclined toward systems they have little control over. The idea of controlling each element of learning can be attractive, the idea of creating a system and letting employees run with it on their own may be less appealing.
  • Managers don’t get much training on how to manage systems they only loosely control. It’s a missing skill set that can scare people away from this sort of innovation.
  • An innovation like this might fall into the white space on the org chart such that no one is directly responsible for adopting it. If the training manager’s job is administering instructor led training, then they may feel innovating with a disruptive technology is outside their purview. Is it obvious who would champion disruptive training innovations in your organization?

Note to my readers: I’m always interested in innovative firms that signal where HR is heading. I love these firms that are striving to make a difference, but many are startups and a mention does not necessarily mean they’ll be right for you.

David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, is a globally recognized thinker on people analytics and talent management. Some of his more interesting projects included:

  • Conducted workshops around the world on the practical aspects of people analytics
  • Took business leaders from Japan’s Recruit Co. on a tour of US tech companies (Recruit eventually bought Indeed.com for $1 billion)
  • Studied the relationship between Boards and HR (won Walker Award)
  • Spoke at the World Bank in Paris on HR reporting
  • Co-authored Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. The book was endorsed by the CHROs of IBM, LinkedIn and Starbucks.
  • Worked with Dr. Wanda Wallace on “Leading when you are not the expert” which topped the “Most Popular List” on the Harvard Business Review’s blog.
  • Worked with Dr. Henry Mintzberg on peer coaching, David’s learning modules are among the most popular topics.

Currently David is helping organizations to get on-track with people analytics.

This work led to him being made a Fellow for the Centre of Evidence-based Management (Netherlands) for his contributions to the field.

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