How to Use Self-Paced Learning to Maximize Training Efficiency

Using self-paced learning methods in staff training will benefit business and help retain top talent

From a very early age, we all learned how to process new information.

No matter how long it took us to learn our native language or multiplication, we developed the ability to learn the necessary information to go about our daily lives.

At some point, learning new information became easier once we established our preferred learning style.

However, our preferred learning style was most likely not always an option growing up.

Depending on where you grew up, standardized tests, academic resources, and the education system probably offered you a one-size-fits-all type of education.

In the era of digitization, we can no longer expect everyone to be onboard with a one-dimensional training solution. With the help of the internet, blended self-paced e-learning methods have provided the modern workforce with numerous opportunities to learn new skills when they want and how they want.

In this article, I discuss the benefits of providing self-paced learning options to employees in order to improve their work environment and to allow them to upskill to stay ahead in the modern workplace.

woman searching for new training material

What is Self-Paced Learning?

Self-paced learning is defined as a specific learning method in which the learner is able to control the amount of material they consume as well as the duration of time they need to learn the new information properly.

The result of the individual’s ability to process the learning material is often referred to as knowledge retention.

Self-paced learning differs from other learning methods because you are in control of what you learn and when you learn it.

Learning at your own pace is not necessarily a new form of learning, but the concept is still somewhat new for businesses.

Think about when you begin a new job.

You are expected to be onboarded and fully operative within a short amount of time.

This means learning the new processes, meeting new co-workers, understanding the product, complying with procedures, and mastering the tools needed to perform the job effectively.

Most likely, the process is different than what you may be accustomed to and getting up to speed can be challenging.

Considering the circumstances, getting up to speed on new procedures puts a lot of pressure on new employees. Especially on those who have only operated in legacy capacities.

Most e-learning solutions already offer self-paced learning tracks because of its autonomous nature and ability to capture and record each person’s interactions within the system.

For these reasons, self-paced e-learning solutions continue to dominate modern employee training.

Modern staff training and career development opportunities provide benefits for both the employee and employer, but what most employers fail to understand is exactly how important these opportunities are in order for them to remain competitive.

In fact, a recent study showed that 70% of participants confirmed “job-related training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job.”

Let’s look at the benefits for both employees and employers.

Millennial learning new training material

Advantages of Self-Paced e-learning for Staff Training

Flexibility

The most obvious benefit of offering a self-paced learning strategy means not only can employees learn whenever they feel like but also wherever they feel like.

This benefit also extends to the employers as well. Flexibility for training sessions means no need to organize the logistical aspects that surround planning a training event.

This translates to no meeting room arrangements, finding an instructor, updating the learning and development training content, inviting attendees, and ensuring that everything else is organized for the event.

For employees, the logistical aspect is also removed when more remote learning options are made available. This translates into employees having more time to learn material as less time is spent arranging flights, hotels, and transportation to the office.

Learning alone also means you can learn from your mistakes without feeling guilty or ashamed when you answer something wrong in front of a room full of people.

Without the time pressure and social pressure, each person has the chance to learn to the best of their ability.

Higher Knowledge Retention

One of the biggest benefits of self-paced learning is an improvement in knowledge retention and memory performance.

Exercising cognitive functions helps the brain with performing mental tasks which improves overall memory.

Self-paced learning also supports inductive thinking, which refers to the ability to comprehend information and then derive conclusions based on the information presented.

One way to support this is the implementation of gamification techniques in e-learning.

We already engage with instances of gamification in our daily lives, such as participation in loyalty programs or when we share our progress or results in an app on social media.

Offering courses in this manner allows for information to be processed in bite-size pieces as opposed to all at once. This is known as microlearning and prevents cognitive information overload.

It also presents the information in a less intimidating and more entertaining way, thus increasing the likelihood that it will be stored in long-term memory.

Overall, if is fun, it will be used often. And best of all, you can track progress and adjust courses and learning material based on results.

Improved Employee Experience 

In Userlane’s latest webinar with Gethin Nadin, Director of Employee Wellbeing at Benefex, we learned that the employee experience is one of the main influences on employee retention.

Gethin discussed the many aspects that play a pivotal role in constructing a great employee experience, one of them being a modern and supportive working environment.

Since technology is already so prominent in our daily lives, it makes sense for companies to provide access to materials they need by using a means that people are already familiar with.

Not only is a better employee experience something that will give you the edge in your business, it is also something that has become an expectation from employees.

The reason this is important is because it is becoming difficult for employees to attract and retain top talent.

Websites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor give potential employees the ability to filter through their options and have a glimpse into what the company culture and employee experience are like without even having a first interview.

The employer no longer has the upperhand on future and current employees. Social capital is now just as valuable as financial capital, meaning that employees will no longer hesitate to look elsewhere if certain career expectations in the workplace are not met.

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, recently sat down with 250 organizations to discuss the disconnect between employee engagement and employee experience at their businesses.

Of the 250,

Those that invested most heavily in employee experience were included 28 times as often among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 11.5 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, 2.1 times as often in Forbes’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, 4.4 times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers, and twice as often in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

This research shows that an investment in a better employee experience is what will give your business an edge as the job market becomes more competitive.

employee working in a learning management system

Self-Paced Learning and E-Learning: Methods and Best Practices 

One way to jump start self-paced learning in your organization is by updating your e-learning programs within a Learning Management System.

A LMS already serves as the central learning portal for employees and is therefore the most logical place to start implementing changes in the learning system.  

The material should already be user-friendly, easily accessible, and interactive in order to increase the chances of the material being retained and well-received.

Standard e-learning tends to be asynchronous in nature, making it difficult to track progress, and fails to account for the effects of the forgetting curve.

A LMS does provide a wealth of knowledge and is very useful to learn certain skills in the workplace.

When it comes to learning how to use software, however, your staff can benefit from a more “blended” approach within their e-learning material by utilizing interactive onscreen guidance..

Interactive guides offer constant support because they are already implemented on top of the software that you need to work in.

This specific self-paced approach combines traditional training with technology, allowing the user to take full ownership of their progress and manage their workload.

Userlane is a great example of the combination of self-paced learning and e-learning through the implementation of interactive onscreen guides.

For example, new employees are able to get started in any software program from the very first day.

Not only is the long onboarding process shortened significantly,  current employees are also given the ability to sharpen their skills by utilizing interactive support available to them within their programs.

This bilateral relationship continues even after a contract has ended by online reviews and endorsements.

Luckily, there are benefits for both the employee and the employer. However, the results can vary immensely depending on the amount of dedication from each side.

Self-Paced Learning Methods: Supporting the Employee-Employer Relationship 

The employee-employer relationship is ever-changing, and, luckily, most businesses are already making considerable efforts to improve the way employees live and work.

However, whether the investment in employees is a priority still remains an important question.

As an employer, the bottom line is – how important is it to your business to attract and retain top talent?

The fact of the matter is, employees are being aged out by a younger, tech-savvy workforce and need to be provided with the ability to stay sharp in their careers. At the same time, more businesses are offering better benefits, flexibility, career development programs, opportunities for growth, and transparency.

Offering the option for self-paced learning is just one piece of the puzzle needed to provide the the most beneficial experience to both employees and employers in order to obtain and retain the best talent.

If you are interested in learning more about employee experience and other staff training methods, check out our webinar with Gethin Nadin about all things needed to create the best employee experience possible.

Register for our Employee Experience 101 Webinar

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