4 Negative Preconceptions That Employees Have About Online Training (And Tips To Fully Engage Them)

Online Training Preconceptions That Hinder Engagement
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Summary: Your staff suddenly seems uninvolved and disinterested in your training course. Or you notice that participation rates are slowly on a decline. Could it be that negative training preconceptions are hindering their engagement?

Online Training Preconceptions That Lower Engagement

You may notice your employees are quietly detaching from your corporate training programs. This can be caused by any number of things. Maybe it’s a particularly busy time at work or at home, end-month sales rushes, or exam season at kids’ school. It might be that the issue lies with the course itself. Then, there are other instances when the mere idea of corporate training is a hindrance. Employees have negative training perceptions about how the experience will play out or that it might not be worth the effort. How can you identify potential problems and resolve them? Here are some examples of what might be going wrong so that you can improve employee engagement and create a connection.

1. Computer Illiteracy

Today’s younger generation may act like they were born with computers in their hands. They take smartphones and tablets for granted. But for less exposed demographics, the other extreme is more likely. They might be chronologically older or simply haven’t had as much access to digital space. This makes them doubt their ability to succeed in online training. They’re scared they won’t know what to do, or how to use their training materials. This fear sometimes cripples them from even trying. Pair them with a more computer-savvy mentor that can walk them through the process. The mentor should be at hand (or rather on the phone, via social media, or messaging apps) to answer questions. Pick your employee training mentors carefully though. You want them to be friendly, non-judgmental, and good teachers because they may have to break down "obvious" concepts that seem alien to someone with low digital access.

2. Disconnected Context

Sometimes, the content is a bigger problem than the channel. In this scenario, your trainees can consume and understand their training content. They just don’t see how it affects them. Past training experiences have taught them that it’s all about theory instead of real-world applicability. The chosen topics seemed remote and cosmetic, at least from a trainee’s perspective. First, review your subject matter to make sure it’s actually relevant to your staff. Once you’re convinced, help your trainees see relevance too, by offering background information. For example, maybe there’s a task performance rule that seems to complicate matters instead of boosting productivity. If you don’t already know, find out the reasoning behind this rule. Maybe someone in management prefers this approach. Or maybe there was an issue in the past that led to a change in performance protocols. Include those tidbits in the course. Also, give realistic instances of where and how they can use the skills they’re learning, or apply the knowledge they’re memorizing.

3. Negative Schooling Experiences

On many occasions, your trainees’ reticence stretches to childhood. Maybe they performed poorly at school, were dismissed by teachers, or got picked on/ignored by classmates. This ingrained a negative attitude toward any form of education. It can be a tricky thing to change but isn’t impossible. Talk to your staff and find out why they’re resistant to training.

Get the right person to do the interview. You don’t want your staff to feel too intimidated to respond. Worse, they might be so eager to please you that they end up saying what you want to hear. But if they don’t tell you the truth, then you can’t fix the problem. If the issue is their overall viewpoint on academia, give them alternative training structures that "don’t feel like school." Instead of long-winded text, let them learn through videos, animations, simulations, and serious games.

4. Unclear Training Paths

Some people live in the moment, but others need a clear map of where they came from and where they’re going. So even in a training scenario, they want to know how their current course connects with their previous one. And they’re curious about what comes next. These types of people aren't content with studying for the sake of it. They won’t sign up for a course just because you told them to. If the subject or content makes no sense to them, they’ll drop out. Periodically sit with each employee and make a career plan. This could be during the annual appraisal, or you could make it a part of company culture and have these sit-downs monthly. Peer-based coaching and mentorship evaluations are other great ways to approach the problem. Review the courses they’ve done. Advise them on what to try next. Offer multiple training journeys, explaining the goal of each. For example, someone looking to work overseas could study languages, accounts, and culture, then be promoted to franchise management.

Advice To Enhance Employee Engagement

When you have high-quality training courses, but nobody seems engaged, it can be challenging to root out the cause. So how do you verify and resolve their reasons for disinterest? If they feel like their tech-savvy is inadequate, create a buddy program. When a course feels like it has no place in their day-to-day work, explain with examples and case studies. For trainees who suffered at school and loathe all things in education, offer training in a lighter, more playful manner. And for the kind of trainee that needs a "why" before they start, offer practical study goals and targets. You might consider pre-assessments or surveys to not only gauge their pre-existing knowledge but diagnose potential sticking points. That way, you can create future courses with these online training preconceptions in mind to improve motivation and employee engagement from the outset.

Accessibility challenges and a less-than-user-friendly interface might be another hurdle your employees must contend with. If so, the best employee training LMS might be a wise investment.