Most of us have heard of e-learning and maybe you’ve even taken a few online courses, but what does it really mean and how can the benefits of e-learning apply to your business?

E-learning is a generic term for electronic or online learning. Most Universities now offer online courses and you can even earn an entire degree without ever stepping into a classroom. Most people are familiar with this type of learning when connected to a college or university but may not think of it as applying to their business. In fact, e-learning is one of the fastest growing parts of the business world because it is highly flexible and offers many options for training your employees.

The Benefits of e-Learning for Office Staff

Companies have recently started using e-learning to train office staff on topics like HR compliance, legal issues, email etiquette or company policies. The benefits of e-learning are significant:

  • Training can be done at the employee’s convenience and is available 24/7.
  • Content is offered exactly the same way to every employee.
  • Each company can customize the content of the course to their needs.
  • Employees can train from their desk, on their PC without having to assemble in a conference room and interrupt productivity.
  • Training is automatically tracked so you know who has completed it and who may have missed it.
  • A short quiz can be included to ensure they actually paid attention and understood the content.

These are just a few of the benefits of e-learning to the office staff. But what about the plant, warehouse or shop floor employees? How can e-learning apply to them and how would it be conducted? Many forward thinking companies are now starting to use e-learning to train their operations employees in a variety of ways that just a few years ago was not possible.

The benefits of e-Learning in Operations Training

There are primarily two types of training for plant and operations employees. First, training new employees to do a specific job like picking orders, receiving product or assembling a part. Next there is training for current employees on new company procedures, policies or rules. Operations Managers tend to think that all training needs to be “hands on”, meaning a trainer, supervisor or lead is used to show the new employee how to do a job. For current employees who need to be updated on new policies, the expectation is they need to gather in a conference or training room where a trainer holds a class. But what if e-learning could help in two very significant ways?

  • Shorten the time it takes a new employee to get “up to speed” and be productive.
  • Provide a way to train current employees on new policies and procedures more efficiently than ever before.

E-learning is a tool that adds convenience and flexibility to your current training programs while enhancing the message with a more meaningful and interactive experience. So how does this all apply to your operations or plant employees?

All of the benefits listed above for office employees can also apply to your warehouse or plant employees. Let’s take the benefits of e-Learning one at a time and see how they apply to your operations.

  • Training is done at their convenience.
    • Operations employees can utilize a simple training station or kiosk to access online courses that introduce them to their job, what is expected, how to be efficient, safe and effective. A kiosk is inexpensive, secure and available 24/7.
  • Training offered the same to every employee.
    • You have already defined the best practices for each job. By putting those procedures online, every new employee sees and hears the right way to do the job; the way you want the job to be done.
  • Training can be customized.
    • You decide how the course will look and feel. You will use your terminology, pictures of your plant, your employees, and your procedures. Training will be specific to your company practices.
  • Employees can train from their desk.
    • Of course warehouse or plant employees don’t have a desk or PC so the kiosk is their desk. Employees can be sent to train at the supervisor’s convenience when production is slower or those rare days when you are fully staffed.
    • When you need to train current employees on new policies there is no longer a need to gather everyone in the training room and bring production to a halt for an hour. They can be sent individually to the kiosk to train while production continues.
  • Training is automatically tracked.
    • For new employees learning a new skill, e-learning will track their progress and report on which courses they have taken. You can set up a list of required courses for new hires and ensure all training is completed. This includes safety training as well as job specific.
    • For current employees being updated on new policies, e-learning will track who is complete and report on who has not taken the required training.
  • A short quiz can be included to ensure they understand the material.
    • It is important that new employees understand the training, especially when they are doing it online. Interactive Q&A sessions will ensure they “get it” and if not, you can be notified via email and can retrain.
    • When training current employees in a classroom setting do you ever really know if they understood the material or were even paying attention? Using e-learning, you will be certain they know the major points because they need to answer questions specific to the topic.

E-learning is an efficient and effective way that companies are now training their office staff and it can be used just as effectively for plant, operations and warehouse employees. It is simple, convenient, is quickly catching on and will soon be the new standard for operations and production employees across many industries.