Continuous Learning at the Workplace with Virtual Instructor-Led Training Programs

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Our previous blog post examined the importance of talent management in an organization and how the upskilling and reskilling of employees with proper training keeps employees motivated and boosts their performance. In this blog post, we will expand on the topic of workplace learning through the prism of continuous learning and how virtual instructor-led training programs can help. We will examine why VILT programs will work better instead of self-paced programs for continuous learning and also look at a project executed by Origin Learning for a global financial leader that used VILT to deliver continuous learning.

Talent management using skill development.

Changing Market Trends and the Role of Continuous Learning

How does an organization reinvent itself and ensure that it does not go out of business? Does the organization tread uncharted territory and launch a new product or service? Or should it shut down loss-making businesses/ventures and focus only on products/services that are generating revenue for the organization? Would it be wise to bring in an external consultant or strategic advisor to help turn the business around? If you were a key decision-maker in an organization; what decision would you make to save the organization?

“Have you considered upskilling and reskilling your employees and training them in new skills or to help them do their existing tasks better?”

Remarkably, not many business leaders think about this crucial aspect. The very first thought that comes into the minds of most business leaders is to “cut the flab” and shut down loss-making units. Recently, a video of a CEO firing 900 of his employees over a video call has gone viral. What we need to remember is that as individuals we need to upskill ourselves. If your organization is offering you training and learning opportunities; that’s great news and will be helpful. If you are not in a position that offers such benefits; then take time to invest in your learning and growth. In uncertain times like these, learning is not a knee-jerk reaction to external factors. It should be an integral part of your routine and help you become a better professional. Only if one is able to be open-minded, curious, and have a passion for learning; can one navigate the challenges posed by the modern workplace.

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While individuals and organizations understand the importance of continuous learning, the focus on improving skills will yield greater benefits. Organizations must plan the skilling program over a period in such a way that immediate and future needs are factored. This is critical, as the lack of proper training and problems caused by the skills gap are manifold. In this article published in “Business News Daily” a survey conducted by CareerBuilder is cited. Employers state that skills gap and poor training hurts organizations in the following areas:

  • Productivity loss: 45%
  • Higher employee turnover: 40%
  • Lower morale: 39%
  • Lower-quality work: 37%
  • Inability to grow business: 29%
  • Revenue loss: 26%

This is a challenge that not just troubles companies in STEM but impacts all businesses that require some form of technology or the other to be enabled as part of its operations. Hence, it is quite clear that unless the pressing skills gap is met and customized training is factored and imparted to employees, organizations will face more operational challenges and financial losses.

This report by McKinsey & Company presents some interesting statistics in terms of skilling requirements. Some of the key findings are:

  • Business areas that need the most amount of reskilling/skill development are – Data analytics, web and mobile app development, executive management, and HR and talent management.
  • “A potential hurdle to effective decision making is a lack of visibility into the skills of the existing workforce and the effects that the disruptions will have on workers’ roles.”
  • Respondents to a survey that went into building this report stated that organizations’ that focused on employee skill development had a greater employee retention rate.
  • Reskilling was mandated by two key factors – emerging tech disruptions and implementation of a new business product or service.

How to Make Continuous Learning a Part of your Organizational Learning Culture?

The CEO of Steelcase, US, makes an interesting statement on creating a learning culture in an organization. His quote taken from the PwC 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey is presented below:

“First, you have to create a culture of learning. Investing in people and helping them continually develop their skills, that should be embedded in a company’s culture. That doesn’t just mean training people in what the company decides is important to them. At least a portion of the learning agenda should be based on what the individual chooses to learn about. The role of the company is to continually challenge and develop its people, starting at the top. In fact, I think the company has an obligation to do so.”

The statement is well-worded and describes very clearly why organizations should work towards building a culture of learning in their organization. Some points that we would like to add:

  • Offer employees a tangible career path and a clear goal when you nominate them to start a reskilling or upskilling program.
  • Provide rewards and recognize their efforts.
  • The learning programs should not take a toll on their day-to-day work.
  • Design and deploy learning that offers a process of continuous learning or learning in the flow of work to maximize retention of learning.
  • Motivate employees and make them love their job. Do not make work and learning at work a monotonous experience.
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Why Virtual Instructor-Led Training Programs Work Better for Upskilling Programs?

Getting everyone at one place and finding the right trainer to run the regular classroom-type training program can  pose numerous logistical challenges. Similarly, a completely online self-paced learning program may not work for people who are unfamiliar with the subject/topic and may not deliver the desired learning outcome.

This is the reason why a blended learning model with a special focus on virtual instructor-led training can help you deliver continuous learning with ease. Its benefits are manifold as listed below:

  • The program can be streamlined with the instructor answering queries in real-time or at predefined, one-on-one sessions with the learners.
  • With active and responsive feedback, the learners are motivated to learn faster.
  • Monitoring learner progress becomes easier with instructors reviewing assessments and providing constructive feedback.
  • Based on learner needs and existing skills, the instructor can customize teaching methodology to help the learners achieve their goals easily.
  • It is a cost-effective learning solution.
  • Based on learner feedback and tech-updates (for a product-based training) the VILT can be updated accordingly.
  • A highly skilled trainer can elevate even an average training program to a great learning experience through their communication skills and knowledge on the topic. A poorly made self-paced learning program can never help the learners in meeting their learning goals.

Virtual instructor-led training programs can also be designed in a way an animated character or avatar takes the role of the virtual instructor and is programmed to answer the most common questions that learners would ask during the training program. This is like how chatbots are used on commercial websites of banks and software companies to help answer the initial queries posed by customers. If a question is complex and cannot be answered by the bot/avatar; there should be an option that enables the learner to email their query to an actual instructor/subject matter expert who answers the question. A blended learning solution that balances self-paced eLearning and virtual instructor-led training is the right way to go forward with reskilling and upskilling programs at the workplace and foster continuous learning in an organization.

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Case Study

One of the primary challenges of working in a large global enterprise that has offices around the world and employs people from diverse cultures and nationalities is that people are not always sure if something is a cultural taboo. Even a simple gesture with one’s hands could mean something different or derogatory in another culture. Origin Learning  had the opportunity to work on an interesting culture sensitivity training program for a U.S.-based global financial services company. Based on our analysis of the requirements presented by the client, we recommended a blended learning solution.

  • The final program that was deployed was a mix of online and virtual instructor-led training.
  • The program had a total of seven courses. Four of these were online and three were VILT programs.
  • The program focused on cultural differences and similarities,  educated the learners about virtual and matrix teams, and how the organization functioned as one large unit.
  • After the program was deployed and employees completed the program successfully, the client reported a satisfactory improvement in how the employees understood each other and improved group dynamics.

Read the case study to get more details about the project.

L&D and HR teams must work closely to create customized learning solutions that help the employees grow in their roles and motivate them to work towards achieving organizational goals. As stated in the blog post, VILT programs work as a highly effective medium to deliver continuous learning and upskill employees. For more information on creating a VILT-based training program for your organization, write to us at info@originlearning.com.


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