As most business leaders can attest, coordinating the schedules of just a few people is challenging. Multiply the number of people and variables involved by several orders of magnitude, and you begin to appreciate the challenge of training a whole enterprise of employees, across different departments and international borders, at scale.
In-person training is rarely feasible for such large-scale organizations because of cost, personnel and scheduling constraints. Web conferencing can help, but such systems still face limitations, particularly when attempting to bridge time zones and language barriers. For this reason, many enterprises are turning to online training software and platforms that can be tailored for different cohorts and completed as schedules permit.
Making the most of these training tools requires a good deal of care and planning to accommodate a vast and varied workforce. Here are some particular challenges faced by enterprise training programs, and techniques for overcoming them:
Culture and Language
Most companies that operate globally already understand the importance of using strong translation services when it comes to communicating with a workforce that spans multiple countries and languages. But the implications of language and cultural differences among offices becomes even more pronounced when it comes to structured training.
Different cultures are accustomed to learning in different ways, which means training tools have to allow flexibility in how learning is conducted, paced and rewarded. For example, research has shown that learners’ engagement with video training content is affected by the rate at which the instructor speaks. What may seem like enthusiasm and confidence in one culture may be perceived as hostility in another.
Furthermore, stories or anecdotes used within the training itself must be tailored appropriately, with sensitivity to the ways in which employees are likely to interact with their customers and co-workers. Even truly global training programs should be customized by local teams to ensure they’re striking the right chord.
The best training programs aren’t just tailored for a given geography or office. They’re tailored to individual need. By structuring training programs in a way that enables different learning paths for certain teams or individuals, companies can ensure that they’re maximizing productivity and reducing time wasted on irrelevant materials.
For example, while a sales team might need to understand the selling points of a new product in great detail, they don’t necessarily need to understand the technical intricacies of troubleshooting certain user errors. Likewise, a tech support professional would have little use for in-depth information around pricing structures and packaging. The ability to frictionlessly customize and onboard new, tailored content is essential.
In another case, one batch of new employees at a company might be all 20-somethings recruited directly out of college, while another might be older employees undergoing reskilling. The difference between how these two groups learn is vast, and in order to be successful, an enterprise learning program needs to be agile enough to cater experiences accordingly. The younger learners might respond to frequent, short quizzes, while the more experienced workers might be self-directed enough to use practice features.
Data and Analytics
Online learning software and systems can be immensely useful in getting training materials in front of a global workforce. And like any other business process, training needs to be subject to data collection and analysis in order to determine best practices and maximize efficiency. Beyond merely delivering the training, the best systems make understanding who viewed and—more importantly—retained the key information simple and straightforward.
By monitoring completion data and performance across the enterprise, company leaders can determine which departments and geographies—not to mention which individuals—are getting the most out of their training. These learnings can then be used to target areas where improvements are needed and where lessons can be gleaned.
Finally, given the expense that comes with enterprise-wide training, companies should ensure that they’re setting up their programs in a way that allows them to measure and demonstrate the business benefits that training provides over time. Key success metrics include employee engagement and the speed of onboarding new employees, both of which can be benchmarked and monitored through the training programs themselves.
Most importantly, organizations need to commit to a cycle of continual improvement within their training programs. These are not set-it-and-forget-it endeavors. Employees regularly provide valuable insights to their employers about the effectiveness of training programs through both direct feedback (i.e., verbal and written comments) and indirect feedback (i.e., performance and level of engagement with training). Such feedback should serve as the basis for ongoing refinement of training programs. With the proper feedback loop in place, an enterprise’s global training program will continue to become more efficient, more effective and more embraced by employees around the globe.