The Tangible and Intangible Benefits of On-Site Training
I just spent a week conducting on-site product training for a great company in New England. You don’t have to take my word that they are a great organization, but the state of Connecticut has chosen them as one of the ‘Best Places to Work’. Like all organizations they look to control expenses and benchmark operations, current issues that the great recession has brought to the fast lane of corporate attention.
Even with those considerations in mind, this corporation decided that the cost of on-site training is worth the additional expense for the future benefit gained. Along with the cost of new software and conversion of data they decided that on-site training would be more beneficial than the less expensive remote training. I agree. I know that self-learning and Webinars are successful training methods, but there are valuable intangible and tangible benefits you receive from on-site training.
Every training course has a canned presentation that is meant to fit a universal audience. With on-site training I have the opportunity to find out how, when, where and why you use our product. Since I had previously worked on this company’s data conversion project and knew what they were trying to accomplish I could focus the training on what would be most important to them and the specific items of training they requested. I could target the training to general product user information for management users and focus the asset import training to the data entry group. I was able to spend one-on-one time with the data entry trainees and could answer questions specific to their tasks. Printed information was personalized to their situation. In a mixed group all-encompassing remote training, one-on-one opportunities aren’t usually available.
Build a relationship
Match a face to a name. There is something about physically meeting and personally knowing my trainees, and my trainees knowing me, that is a basis for a relationship. On a remote session we are all just voices over the internet, nothing memorable to associate a name with a face. I find that many trainees are more open and less intimidated about learning the product or asking me for help, once they make that in-person connection. Does it mean that everyone is suddenly my friend and we exchange Christmas cards every year? No. It means for those people that would frustratingly “figure out another way”, they might now call or email, saving them frustration and wasted unproductive time.
Break the barrier to not asking a question
Over a year I will conduct many Webinar trainings and in those trainings I find that trainees are reluctant to ask questions, even though they have a bit of anonymity (with me at least, not necessarily with their colleagues) since we are only individual internet voices. Unfortunately, when trainees don’t ask a question I lose the hint that maybe what I said wasn’t clear. Even more unfortunate for the trainee is that they let the moment pass and didn’t ask their question and now they probably won’t. Whether I am on-site for a day or a week, when you have that physical presence and spend time on their ‘turf’, they are more inclined to ask the question. Even if it is only a “Can I ask you?” as they pass me in the hall or catching my eye as I look around the training room.
We support our clients. Period. Just because the training is over and I’m back in Sarasota, it doesn’t mean that I expect trainees to know everything about our product and they won’t run into a situation where they would like a consult. Training on-site allows clients to get to know me and that I represent Red Moon Solutions; I am a personal contact that they can reach out to. A contact they know, a contact they’ve met, and a contact they can trust will take care of them; we’re not just the 1-800 numbers at the end of the training manual.
Company Commitment to Employees
This week’s trainees work for a company that wants financial success, and also wants employee success. Informed, prepared, employees are an asset. When a company takes on the expense, planning and logistics to buy on- site training they are letting their employees know that they want them to be successful, they want them to have the tools to be better. They understand that the extra expense of on-site training has value. Everyone has friends that work for a company where the word training isn’t brought up in conversation anymore; it was one of the first things axed with the recession. But I think it is pretty common knowledge that if your company is paying for on-site training they feel the added expense is paid back in a future benefit.
There isn’t a line on your balance sheet or profit and loss statement that shows what a company gains by investing in on-site training, but training would be high on the list of contributions to employee and company success. When trainees become trained users they reduce the expense of nonproductive time and they become the knowledge transfer to the next generation of users.
Is on-site training for every situation? No. Do I think you shouldn’t purchase new software or not improve your processes if you can’t budget for on-site training as part of the project? No. I think there are intangible benefits that dollars can’t measure that pay off down the road in building a relationship, creating trust, and instilling confidence not only between vendor and buyer, but between employers and employees, some things better facilitated by personal interaction, face-to-face on-site.