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How to make training less time consuming

How to Train Remote Staff in Less Time

Online training can be a life-saver. This is especially true when in-person options for staff are cancelled, and also when it’s hard to get people in one room together to learn. For people learning and delivering training, being able to learn new skills demands being able to take online courses. This might be a short-term fix for some organizations, but it will likely be the new norm for many others.

The benefits of remote learning are many. However, one common complaint is that it takes too long. Some people think it takes a long time to develop an online curriculum, and some people think it takes too long to complete the training.

A time-sink can have negative results on your program and result in lackluster remote learners. If you can’t get your new workers up to speed, or upskill existing employees, in a reasonable amount of time, your agency will feel the effects. Poorly trained people can’t do their job. Some staff members will make an attempt to do a job assignment, but they won’t do it correctly. At worst, they do slap-dash work. At best, they think they’re doing the right thing, but don’t understand. Either way, if they skim over long training, they will miss important skills.

It’s hard to apply a single rule to the wide variety of online courses. But it’s worth examining ways to either lessen the effects of time-consuming training, or at least manage expectations so everyone on your team knows how much time to make in their schedule. These changes let you train remote staff in less time and can make training feel easier and less intimidating.

Tips To Train Remote Staff in Less Time

  1. Track training time.
  2. Give staff enough time to learn.
  3. Set a deadline.
  4. Document processes for training later.
  5. Avoid multitasking.
  6. Answer questions ahead of time.
  7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.
  8. Set expectations that training does take time.

1. Track training time.

Before you make any changes to your training selection, make sure it really is taking an unexpected amount of time. It might just feel like it’s taking a long time. Boring or confusing courses are just as hard to sit through as a bad movie. They might not, however, take an inappropriate amount of time to complete. Have your staff track when they started and ended.

A tracker helps train remote staff in less time by being more organized

2. Give staff enough time to learn.

Some learners look at training as one more thing they have to add to their to-do list. Make sure they have enough time for training by making room in their schedule. An online course is far more flexible than an in-person training. Learners can do a bit of work when they have the time, break away to work with a client, and then come back to finish up. If 10 p.m. is a better time to work, they can work at 10 p.m. There’s no travel time.

3. Set a deadline.

Any time is often no time. If someone can push a deadline for completing a course into the future, they might never complete it. It also takes time to keep snoozing training, or not setting aside enough time to do it. So offer your staff a limitation on when they can finish a course, and they’ll find a way to fit it in.

A deadline can be a one-time event (“Complete the HIPAA compliance training by 5 p.m. Friday”) or ongoing events. In this case, you can give mini-deadlines to your staff. For example, they should complete module one by Wednesday, module two by Monday, etc. Structure can really be a time-saver and a big motivator for professional development.

4. Document processes for training later.

Taking a course in the moment is great, but having the training when you need it can be even better. People learn best when they can apply the skills at the right time. So provide training up front, and then later, when it comes time to use those skills, support your staff’s knowledge with added information.

The way you do this is to document everything, so that you have process and procedure documents that are at-hand when they’re needed. Document whenever you can, save what you create, make it available to the right people, and you’ll find you train remote staff in less time.

5. Avoid multitasking.

Multitasking is a way to do several tasks badly at once. It might feel productive to try to do two tasks at the same time, or switch between two tasks in quick succession. But https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask. We’re not made to do two things at once. Many psychological studies have showed that the brain doesn’t work this way and actually slows down task completion.

So when your staff is learning, make sure they’re learning. Discourage texting, phone calls, discussions, and working on completing training while doing other jobs. It will speed everything up.

6. Answer questions ahead of time.

Create the best condition for your learners by predicting the questions they might ask and answer them ahead of time. That way, neither of you need to waste time asking and answering obvious questions. For example:

  • Send a supplies list in advance, such as headphones, notebook, computer
  • How much time they can expect to spend on a course
  • Access information, including login, password, and whitelisting to avoid spam
  • Requirements for their job that you know happen on a regular basis

Add these items along with any others to a notebook or a document that you circulate every single time you instruct your team to complete a training. Also encourage learners to ask questions whenever they have them so you can add to your document.

7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.

Upskilling means to train your workers at a higher level and with updated skills to meet best practices, guidelines, and requirements. Upskilling isn’t training from scratch. It’s the practice of training often to keep up with protocols. Upskilling can also be quicker than training with a brand new course. You’re not reteaching, you’re customizing training so it meets new skills quickly.

8. Set expectations that training does take time.

Online training can be a time-saver in many ways, but it does take time. Factor in such issues as traveling, staying in a hotel, or waiting to check in at an event means that remote learning lets you train staff in less time. However, learners still need to sit in front of the course and complete it. Online training isn’t easier and it’s not a breeze. So make sure your learners know what to expect by telling them they should take training seriously and put the appropriate amount of time into learning.

Sometimes, just knowing how long something will take makes it go by that much quicker.

7 Ways to Build Participation in Remote Training

Everyone is better at delivering training online than a year ago. But given the amount of instructor-led training (ILT) that’s moved to virtual training, many learners aren’t as engaged as they should be. Add to that disruptions while working from home, and it can be a good time investment to think about ways to keep participants engaged in remote learning.

Engagement varies widely, depending on the course and who’s taking it. And there’s no one way to make sure that your participants are actively involved. However, there are a few guidelines and communication strategies you can follow that will help make your training stick.

1. Ask early and often for feedback in multiple ways.

Asking for feedback is a proven strategy for increasing engagement. The best part is that you can ask for feedback no matter what format your training is in: if you have virtual instructor-led training (VILT) with a facilitator or if you have purely self-paced lessons. It’s simply a matter of checking in.

You can use many different methods—simple or complex–to get feedback from participants, including:

  • A forum designed for general thoughts
  • A survey at the end of the course
  • Polls throughout the training. For example, ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module.
  • Asking for thumbs-up or thumbs-down emojis on your team chat channel
  • Direct questions about how the material relates to their work
what did you like best about this course

2. Make sure supervisors participate too.

Participants’ supervisors are critically important to the success of any learner’s training. Supervisors need to be included from the beginning. At the very least, supervisors set expectations for training, answer questions and make sure employees participate. This goes for stakeholders too, who want to make sure their training investment pays off.

They can also take a more hands-on approach to training by answering specific questions that arise in the course. They can make time in the employee’s schedule for learning. With many healthcare professions, supervisors also need to demonstrate procedures or supplement training with information about internal policies.

Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results. Create a related course that supervisors are also required to follow.

3. Enlist peers for training.

Peer training is one of the best ways to drive home skill building. Top-down instruction is fine, but sometimes employees listen to their coworkers more closely.

This is partly because coworkers can relate to each other in a unique way. They have a good idea of how their job works within the organization, what their clients or patients might need, and other critical knowledge that might not be included in the core content. And peers can be less intimidating than bosses.

Peer-to-peer training is especially helpful in new hire situations or when you’re trying to build rapport among team members.

4. Set training and development benchmarks.

If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark.

One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement. These benchmarks can be coupled with performance reviews and job goals. They may also be part of larger initiatives, such as quality improvement projects.

5. Offer rewards.

There’s a reason so many coffee shops offer punch cards: rewards work. Think about what incentives for completing training will motivate your participants to finish. Make sure to focus on rewards rather than penalties.

Successful rewards we’ve seen are completion certificates or industry certification. Even simple public commendations for completion, such as on the company Slack channel, are surprisingly motivating.

Some other ideas are:

  • Friendly competition, including badges and leaderboards
  • Promising new equipment for use on the job
  • Additional training opportunities
  • End-of-course lunches for successful participants
offer rewards

6. Make it relevant.

Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too general or not addressed to the right group. Make sure training initiatives are aligned with organizational goals and mission first of all.

If you can, develop courses from scratch and after carefully surveying your audience. This will give you the best chance of creating something that is truly tied to your agency’s needs. Staff members also usually appreciate being asked for their feedback and seeing the results being spread to the company. Off-the-shelf courses can also be customized on screen, or they can also be complimented by instruction in the field.

7. Give help and support to those who need it.

Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course.

Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint coaches in the workplace who can offer assistance. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.

Originally published October 16, 2014, updated March 15, 2021.

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How To Make Your Online Training Less Intimidating

 
 

New training technology can be exciting and engaging for health agency employees—really!

If you’re changing the way you do training to a new method that’s different for your team—probably in a conference room with a speaker at the front—your staff might feel intimidated. Change can be scary for some people, but it doesn’t have to be.

Adopting new training technology, such as online courses, means a different mindset for your agency staff. By doing some planning and strategy, you can roll out your new online learning project smoothly and get people trained as quickly as possible.

Here are 9 steps you can follow for the successful implementation of your new elearning program.

1. Cultivate a positive attitude.

Start off by setting the tone for your training program. Convey some excitement and build some anticipation. The right frame of mind helps people adopt new technology and other job changes. Nix any negative attitudes right away. Remind your team that they are capable of learning new things and can succeed.

Think of your new course launch like the premiere of a Hollywood movie, so your employees are enthusiastic to begin.

2. Remind new learners of their existing experience.

Taking a class online is much less challenging than most people realize. Most people take for granted the kind of work they do on a computer, including checking their e-mail, posting to their social media accounts, or typing a document on a computer. With that kind of ability, they won’t have any trouble with an online course. Remind them of that.

Next, address their fear of the unknown by letting them try out the tools and see they’re not so tricky. You could:

  • Use some screen recording software or a tutorial from your vendor to show how to get started.
  • Arrange a presentation to introduce them to the learning system.
  • Let them try it for themselves with a few simple tasks, such as logging in or changing their password.

Once they see the tasks aren’t very different from what they normally do on a computer, their fear factor will reduce considerably.

It’s still a good idea to ask an administrator to be available to new technology users to answer simple questions. You can also offer a computer-readiness quiz at the beginning of class to help pinpoint those who need extra help.

3. Show how the training relates to their job.

Some online trainings are vague and not well targeted. If your staff has had experience with these courses in the past, they might legitimately worry that they’ll have to sit through a course that doesn’t have anything to do with their job duties.

Solve this by relating any new training initiative with clear learning goals that are based on professional development. Then, when you do introduce a new program, it will immediately be relevant.

Be clear when you notify staff about the course that it will help them with X skill–provide real-life examples when possible. For example, tell them, “This new course on health literacy includes worksheets you can download and use to assess clients’ literacy levels.”

4. Put a friendly face to the training.

For some people, the idea of not being able to sit in the same room with an instructor is a big turn-off. The reality is that time away from work in a training room is difficult and expensive, and “remote” learning doesn’t have to feel far away.

If you have a course facilitator, encourage them to introduce themself to your staff and ask them to share information with one another. If it’s an administrator, have them post their picture next to a quick introduction. If there’s no one facilitating, include a picture of a person learning and enjoying it.

This will help build a personal rapport. It can also be helpful to build periodic conference calls into a course, or create virtual office hours, so participants can interact with the instructor. A mentoring structure can help too, if you can pair learners with experienced health workers.

The Office of Healthy Communities at the Washington State Department of Health solves this by presenting their community health workers with a blended learning model: an in-person session followed by an online program. Read more about how their program works.

5. Give your team time to train.

Some learners are happy about the prospect of learning new skills. Others look at training as one more thing they have to add to their to-do list.

You can ease this anxiety by setting aside time for your team to work on their courses.

Also remind them that an online course is far more flexible than an in-person training. Participants can do a bit of work when they have the time, break away to work with a client, and then come back to finish up. If 10 p.m. is a better time to work, they can work at 10 p.m. There’s no travel time.

6. Provide the right equipment.

Health staff are not technology staff, so they naturally don’t have access to the whole range of equipment someone who works in an office all day would. However, the list of equipment most people need for taking an online course is pretty short, and most people either possess or can find access to what they’ll need. The list includes:

  • A computer or smartphone
  • Speakers or headphones
  • A printer if they want to print anything out

Most people can go into an office to access a computer, if necessary, or they can visit their local library. You can make sure participants have their supplies by providing a “things you’ll need to begin” list and then telling them where they can find public access, if necessary.

7. Provide language options.

Many people who don’t speak English as a first language or fluently worry they won’t be able to keep up with a course. In feedback from our courses, we’ve found just the opposite. Because learners can reread text many times, listen to audio or experience the material in different ways, it makes it easier to spend the time necessary to process and understand the course.

If you have a critical mass of workers who need access in one language, you might consider having the course translated or offered in another language.

8. Set some goals.

Setting and reaching goals is important to your staff, who needs to see how their work fits in with the larger objectives of your agency. This is part of the research you should have uncovered in your training needs assessment.

Once you set them, then look at what might make them more difficult to reach. In many cases, there could be a training gap. The gap might be:

  1. Individual. If one person lacks the skills to complete a task, they have an individual training gap. For example your new hire needs to do community outreach for your agency, but they don’t have any outreach skills.
  2. Team. Your whole team might lack skills to carry out an initiative, so they have a team learning gap. An example almost everyone can relate to is setting up new protocols for Covid-19.
  3. Organizational. Entire agencies sometimes have a gap in an area and have an organizational learning gap. Many organizations recognize they have gaps in cultural competency and have needed to supplement training in that area.

Learning goals might even reach into the future, and they can dovetail nicely with personal goals of your team. You can ask your employees what they’d like to learn in the next month, quarter, or year, and then provide them with training opportunities to get there.

9. Support peer learning.

Some employees are afraid they’ll feel isolated by working on a computer and won’t be able to meet the other people in the course. In feedback we’ve received in our courses, we’ve found just the opposite.

One woman, for instance, said she met many more people than she does when she’s in a live training. In a conference room, she talks only to the people sitting on either side of her, but online, she had lengthy and meaningful discourse with everyone in the course.

Online courses are also easily adapted, so you can offer support materials that do relate well to the community. You can ask participants to share personal stories with the group and provide lists of local resources and agencies that they will find useful. The best courses are the ones that reflect the people taking them.

The path to learner engagement.

The best way to address any fear is to acknowledge it, so your staff knows you’re taking them seriously, and then provide examples and evidence to make them feel more at ease. After the first week, most participants will wonder why they were ever worried in the first place.

Originally published June 6, 2014, updated March 08, 2021.

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18 Ways To Motivate Distance Learners in Professional Development

Your agency has probably restructured at least some of its professional development training as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. You may have shifted to online learning or at least holding some trainings via remote platforms like Zoom.

It’s handy to have a distance learning safety net so you can keep passing information on to your staff. But just because the technology is there doesn’t mean your team’s motivation is too. Times are tough, they might not be engaged in the same way as usual.

Even in normal times, it’s tough to keep learners motivated in an elearning course. For starters, visual cues are hard to read from a distance, so instructors have trouble responding on an individual basis. Many self-guided courses are lackluster and not tied to learning goals, so they can be hard for participants to follow.

How to motivate learners

The secret to motivating learners is to hit them from all directions, and make sure every step is designed to promote enthusiasm in what they’re learning.

In general terms, this means ensuring your staff knows why they’re taking a training and that the value is clear. It also means giving them educational materials that are designed for adult learners. Grown-ups need to juggle competing demands, preferred learning styles, and their own familiarity with the delivery method.

Following is a list of ways you can create an environment that encourages learning and help staff feel inspired to build their own skills.

1. Make sure training is relevant for their job.

Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too general or not addressed to the right group. Learning new skills can keep employees engaged and dedicated to their jobs. It helps if you can merge training with staff learning goals.

2. Get buy-in from supervisors.

Participants’ supervisors need to be included from the beginning. A supervisor can make sure employees participate and also help answer any questions that arise in the course. Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results.

3. Build anticipation for the course.

Treat your training launch with some showmanship. Deliver some teasers ahead of schedule that let participants know something exciting is coming up.

4. Promise a reward.

Some training needs to be done, no matter what, such as HIPAA or privacy rights. But you can tie a reward to successful completion in other modules. This might be a certificate of completion, some paid time off, new equipment for use on the job, additional training opportunities, or end-of-course lunches.

5. Allow time in their schedule for learning.

Allow an afternoon or a certain number of hours to complete training. This helps if they have a busy schedule that competes with their attention.

6. Set benchmarks.

If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark. One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement.

7. Share learning objectives.

Frame the training by sharing what the course will be about and give staff a target. If they know what they should be learning ahead of time, that helps them know what they should focus on.

8. Ask learners to set their own goals.

Similar to the above tip, you can encourage learners to state what they want to get out of the course. Thinking about how the material fits in with their life can help make it more relevant.

9. Call and/or email all participants at the start of class. 

Tell your staff from the beginning that you hope to connect with them as an individual and are invested in their success in the course.

COVID-19 & Women's Health: What You Need To Know

10. Cultivate a warm classroom where you, as the facilitator, are present and reachable. 

Provide your phone number and/or a frequently checked email account that your participants can rely on reaching you in a timely manner. Many people are unsure of online learning and nervous about taking courses. This strategy helps overcome their fears and boosts their contribution.

11. Nominate a champion.

Encourage community participation by asking participants to elect an “Inspirational Class Captain” to post motivational quotes in each module. The blog tool or the discussion Forum is a good place for this contribution.

12. Ask early and often what participants think.

A survey at the end of the course is good. Asking them throughout the course how the material relates to their work is even better. Learners will often forget details by the end of a course. Check in with polls that ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module. Also create a forum designed for general thoughts, and ask your instructor to get in the habit of asking for feedback.

13. Talk to participants.

Offer Skype, Zoom, or chat sessions to participants on a weekly basis. Offering these as set office hours is a great way to motivate participants to ask questions they need immediate answers to and to engage with you when they otherwise might not have.

14. Be careful with feedback.

Provide consistent, positive feedback and frame all negative feedback with a positive tone.

15. Offer “extra credit” activities/games each week if possible. 

Even if participants aren’t participating in the course for grades, very short quizzes can be pitched as games that add a layer of fun to the module and help to motivate the participants to continue on.

16. Include partners.

Create peer groups or peer partnerships to encourage collaboration and class participation. This could be community partners or interagency partners. You can use the Groups tool to create private collaboration space.

17. Follow up often.

Identify low participating participants and respond more to their posts to show that you’re tuned into them. Call and/or email participants who are not participating in class to show that you’re concerned about their presence in the classroom and offer support to help them succeed. 

18. Give help.

Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course. Read some more tips about making your course accessible for people who have visual or physical limitations. Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint coaches in the workplace who can offer assistance. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.

Originally published July 3, 2014, updated February 12, 2021.

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