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How Online Training Supports Business ROI

Online training is a cost-effective and beneficial way to support business revenue and ROI goals. Learn best practices to improve your training ROI.

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9 min read

Effective employee training delivers a return on investment

Every business hopes their employee training program will help them get tangible business results. So, does it make sense to measure success with performance indicators that have nothing to do with ROI? Think about it. If you offer a training program on customer service upskilling, which success metric makes more sense? 

  1. Every participant completed the training program and passed the quiz.
  2. Customer satisfaction scores improved by 10 percent 60 days after the course.

Option two is clearly the better answer. Yet, for too long, option one—completion rates or assessment scores—was deemed a worthy indicator of success without delivering the desired results. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how online learning can be an effective tool for achieving business goals, provided you follow best practices.

For more insights and best practices on creating excellent training courses, read our e-book, “Close Skills Gaps With Science-Based Learning

Key Takeaways

  • To maximize the benefits of employee training software, implement best practices like setting smart goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) 
  • One effective way to use an online learning platform is to train in the flow of work without a set time for “class.”
  • Tie employee development metrics to desired results, like higher revenue or decreased management escalations, and use a dashboard to track weak spots that may need additional training.

For more tips on building effective e-learning, visit this post.

How does an online employee training program improve business results?

Training investment topped $100 billion for the first time in 2022. Clearly, businesses hope that investment will help them reach business goals like increasing revenue, reducing costs, enhancing efficiency, and maintaining a competitive advantage. But getting there takes more than “checking the box” by sending out dull compliance training once a year. 

To create an effective e-learning program, start with a tangible goal. Then, map the turn-by-turn directions to achieve it. Evaluate your team’s ability to execute these directions. Are they ready? Do they have the skills they need? Identify knowledge or skill gaps blocking the path to the goals.

Finally, choose the metric you’ll use to demonstrate progress toward the goal. Take a baseline and create training materials that help the team close skills gaps. Continue to measure success against that metric as the team progresses on the path to that goal. Tweak training as you go to improve impact. 

Save money and time with online employee training courses

Cost is one clear reason training software enables teams to reach training goals. Classroom training requires an instructor and a shared physical location. Meeting in person may include travel, hospitality, and materials costs. It often means pulling the team away from their day-to-day work, which may temporarily hurt productivity and profits.

Training employees online can be more cost-effective than in-person training because it eliminates many of those costs. It is also simple to create and distribute at scale. A good program is easy to update and customize for different target groups or purposes. 

That’s not to say that either in-person or online training is inherently better than the other. That’s why it’s important to analyze the goals you wish to achieve and what format—or combination—might fit that best. 

While saving money makes online training appealing, remember it must be good training with measurable, impactful goals to be effective. That’s where learning in the flow of work comes into play.

Create courses for “learning in the flow of work”

With asynchronous workplace training, there’s no set time that class begins or ends. Employees can take online courses wherever they want, whenever they want. Because there’s no set time for learning, employees can go at their own pace—when it fits into their schedules. 

That’s important for a few reasons. First, it makes learning easy to digest and consume. Let’s go back to our customer service improvement example. Imagine a front-line worker has a 15-minute break to consume two short training modules on turning an angry customer into a happy advocate. That same afternoon, a frustrated client brings in a return. The employee recognizes some of the behaviors they learned in the modules and can immediately employ the techniques they learned. Later, the customer fills out a survey about the interaction and gives the employee 4.5 out of 5 stars—a huge improvement over last month’s 3-star average rating. 

This example raises a second reason learning in the flow of work is beneficial—applying new skills helps them stick. So, our customer service employee who applied their new skills created new habits to help achieve the ultimate goal—improving customer service scores. 

Some skills training simply must take place in person. For example, no one would consider learning to insert an IV through a written manual. In those situations, online training is ideal for reinforcing skills using the spacing effect. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinhaus discovered over a century ago that we learn better when we spread learning out over time rather than try to learn everything all at once. Bite-size reinforcement lessons online, taken at the time of need or in the flow of work, are an excellent way to follow up on skills gained in person.

Measure training results that matter

We’ve touched on this throughout the blog, but it bears repeating: e-learning training software helps you measure employee performance against desired results. First, because online training software lets you deliver a consistent training experience for every learner and makes measuring impact easier. You can track who completed the course, but you can also see if certain lessons stump learners. Or, you can compare completion rates to goal results to see if certain lessons need reviewing or tweaking.

A good training system will provide analytics to track a learner’s progress through a course and see whether they’ve mastered the material. 

So, let’s go back to our customer service example one last time. Imagine now that HQ says store #215, where our employee works, needs to increase quarter-over-quarter revenue by 5 percent. As store 215’s manager, what would you do? 

First, you might identify revenue growth opportunities. You notice that inventory includes some items under 25 dollars and decide to improve the team’s upselling skills. You set a sales receipt target KPI and decide to train the employees to achieve that target by upselling. 

Next, you implement online scenario-based training to gain a baseline of the team’s current ability to upsell in different scenarios. Once you know which scenarios cause salespeople to struggle, you develop training content that teaches them how to upsell effectively in those situations. You might pair digital training with impromptu practices on the sales floor, roleplaying with associates and upselling to live customers. Then, you discuss what went well and where the employee struggled. You might recommend further product training in a microlearning format to help the employee feel more confident. 

At the end of the month, you compare receipt tickets to the previous month and check inventory to identify the top-selling items. You might tweak tactics or double down, depending on performance. 

By tracking the relationship between training and KPIs, you’ll have a better idea of what training works and what training needs tweaking. And soon, you’ll be on your way to achieving that 5% revenue increase!

Online training programs + actionable, measurable goals = increased ROI

Online employee training programs are cost-effective and engaging—and will help your team reach sales goals. However, training must be paired with measurable goals that matter. Warm bodies in a room won’t cut it. Instead, for maximum stickiness, find ways to weave training into the day in the flow of work. Don’t forget to use the dashboard analytics in your online training tool to follow progress, catch roadblocks, and tweak training to help you achieve your goals. You’re well on your way to success!

Learn more about scientifically proven ways to create training that actually changes behavior from the e-book “Close Skills Gaps With Science-Based Learning.”

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9 min read

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