There’s a disconnect when it comes to employee training. Employees want and even leave companies due to lack of development. However, the perception whether true or not is that companies view training as an afterthought and as a result, employees feel their development is put on the back burner.
Here are some training statistics that display this from the 2019 Future of Work and Employee Learning report by Sitel Group.
- Nearly one in three U.S. employees admit they have avoided asking their employer for training on a specific topic because they thought they may be concerned they didn’t know about the topic to complete an assigned task.
- 46 percent of employees believe their employer penalizes them for not having certain skills on the job.
- 26 percent of employees admit they have not attended, participated in, or completed training in the past because their manager didn’t encourage them to attend or they felt their manager didn’t think it was important.
What are interactive training courses?
Now that you know why interactive training is needed, you may wonder what exactly it entails. Interactive training can be group activities, simulations, games, quizzes, assessments or anything else that keeps employees active within the learning process. Utilizing these various methods, ensures employees are present during training. And when they are engaged, they are inspired and see the true value in the training they are receiving.
In return, this leads to better team bonding and gives employees a voice within the training. Instead of simply listening to a lecture or reading through material, they become an active participant in the training session. Although this type of learning can be out of some employees’ comfort zones, a good facilitator or a well-structured eLearning training session can accommodate different learning styles.
Benefits of interactive training
So as you can see interactive training courses are important to employees. But the question is how to make it most effective for the individual team members, managers, and the company as a whole. This can be accomplished through this type of training. Why is this method effective? Here are some of the benefits.
1. No risk
The entire point of training is to learn. And making mistakes is part of the learning process. With interactive learning, employees can take courses, make mistakes and learn from where they went wrong. All of this happens before they are actually back on the job. So, interactive training offers no risk with tons of reward.
2. Uses several learning styles
Everyone learns in a different way. For example, some people are visual learners and like watching videos while others are more analytical and learn better from graphs with statistics. When it comes to interactive training courses, it’s easy to incorporate several learning strategies within the same training sessions. This will help you engage more employees and use a more well-rounded approach.
3. Provides immediate feedback
Interactive training courses provide real-time information. Employees don’t need to wait to the end of the course to find out how well they understood the material. By testing employees as they learn also provides a more dynamic training session. It gives employees a chance to assess for themselves what they could have done differently and how another course of action would have produced different results. This helps drive new skills to memory as well.
4. Uses soft skills
Often soft skills like communication or working as a team are overlooked. An easy way to learn soft skills is through interactive training courses. For example, you have an entire team taking training together. Not only are they learning a new skill, but they are learning how to rely on one another to problem solve. Plus, peers can learn from one another and offer advice that reinforces the training module. And, it builds trust and communication strengthening the company in the process.
5. Helps with complex training
If you have new skills that require multiple sessions or are more intricate topics, it’s easier to use interactive training sessions to learn these skills. For example, if you are training a sales team on a new product line, you’ll want to demonstrate the features of each product. This includes showing how they work, what can potentially go wrong, and what questions a customer may have. By physically going through the motions of training, it’s easier for employees to put themselves in the shoes of the customers. This really drives training home and shows the value.
6. It’s fun
As much as employees see the value in training, sometimes they are busy on project deadlines or are leaving for an upcoming vacation. Basically, their minds are elsewhere and training becomes a formality. But with interactive training courses, learning is presented in a fun way. And when you make training engaging and interesting, employees look forward to training and development.
How to incorporate interactive training in your program
Once you understand the benefits of interactive training courses, how can you use them in your learning program? Here are some ways to easily incorporate it.
Use videos and graphics
The use of video is becoming more common in marketing, social media and other interactions people have day to day outside of work. So by adding video, you’ll make training more dynamic. If you already have PowerPoint presentations, simply see where you can include short video clips to break up the material or insert graphics where you are making key points.
You can also create short videos for less complex subject material if you need to drive a few key points to memory. These can be a person talking or even scenery including background music with a couple text talking points added in. Other elements worth considering are click and reveal, drag and drop and voice overs. Whatever method you use, the point is to connect eye-catching visuals with important content. That way, you keep employees engaged while learning.
Include frequent tests and quizzes
Every person only has a certain attention span no matter how patient they are. After listening to an hour-long training session and asking your employees to take a quiz on what they learn, isn’t very beneficial. A better way is testing, quizzing and assessing throughout the training. That way, it forces the learner to focus on each topic being learned. Plus, if they take a short five question quiz after each section it breaks up the training a bit. And if they struggle with one topic over another, it gives the learner time to spend going over that particular section until they understand it.
Simulations can make interactive training courses really come to life. If you aren’t familiar with simulations for training purposes, think of it as a pilot learning to fly. They go through simulation training before they actually go into flight to learn how it feels and how to react once airborne. This same style of training is great for other industries as well. For example, a communications department is given a crisis scenario and told to act. They have time to feel what it’s like to be the situation without any actual repercussions. Plus, there’s time afterwards to regroup and go over what actions could have been refined given an actual situation.
These simulations can either take place in a classroom setting or over a computer. If it’s an online training module, give three scenarios based on a problem at hand. Then let employees choose which path they would take. If they veer off on the wrong path, provide options to choose a different path. This will give the learners time to react in real-time and think through the entire solution as they train. And at the end of the simulation, provide feedback as to which path would have been the correct one to take given the situation.
Gamify the training
Gamification in training not only makes training fun, but it gets employees interacting. This type of training uses games to drive new skills to memory. And when employees find training fun, they are more engaged and more present to learn what is being given to them. Plus, a little healthy competition between team members or the company as a whole can be a good thing.
To further create a gaming element in your training program, you can keep track of the top scorers and either display this prominently within your training program or use this information in a communication tool like a company newsletter. Or another option is reward employees with certificates or badges to indicate high scores. Recognition in gamification in training is a great way to further reward employees who learn the needed skills successfully.
While gamification in training uses the essence of game play with points, high scores or rewards given, game play is actually playing games to train. This is another way to make interactive training courses successful. Again this could either be in-classroom or online training sessions.
Consider what your training objectives are and which environment makes the most sense to incorporate games. For example, you could include computer type games for elearning and a problem solving game in groups in a classroom setting. Either way, games are great for collaboration, working together and quick thinking.
Build in interactive elements
This may sound like an obvious solution, but look at every slide of your training module and add interactive elements to as many slides as you can. This will break up the reading for the learner and it also forces them to click, mouse-over or hit play before moving onto the next slide. By taking these actions, you’ll have better attention spans to learn the information versus simply glossing over the details to get to the next slide.
Digital storytelling is using a mix of video, audio, images and text to tell stories, information or ideas. This is a great way to make training more interactive. A digital story is usually short like 3-5 minutes long or even shorter. It acts as an audio-visual presentation using images, photographs, background music and some text or narrative.
An example, may be sexual harassment training. To illustrate the point of what deems harassment on the job, you use digital storytelling to show an interaction between two colleagues at the office. Then you follow up with questions about what the learner just watched, what was inappropriate action and what next steps should be taken. Digital storytelling in other words is used to demonstrate, reinforce and teach concepts on a personal level. It puts employees in situations they can relate to in order to drive key points home.
You may be familiar with virtual reality games where you need a headset in order to immerse yourself in the experience. Well using 360 videos and photos uses this same concept except learners can participate without any needed equipment from their own computers. You’ll want to shoot wide angle photos or videos that show the entire scene.
These types of interactive training courses are great for onboarding in the hospitality industry for example. Let’s say you have hotel employees who need to understand room layouts, the floorplan of the hotel and where the amenities are located. 360 videos and photos can help get them up-to-speed so they can better explain these features once they are in front of guests.
Choose branching scenarios
One way to make learning more interactive is to individualize it. When an employee feels training is tailored just to them, they are more willing to absorb it thoroughly. Branching scenarios are a lot like those childhood books where you would select which direction to take. Based on your decision, you were taken down one adventure over another. So branching scenarios in learning is giving employees choices and letting those choices dedicate the consequences of their actions. This forces employees to “live” the training as they are taking it and as a result, they better understand how the training will help once back on the job.
By deploying these interactive training techniques to your program, you’ll add value to your employees and learning will become fluid within your company.