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Should You Offer E-Learning or Classroom Opportunities to Employees?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

A key component in the mix of employee retention strategies is to offer employees career development opportunities. As the war for talent heats up in 2013, retention has become a primary concern for many employers. But what kind of education do employees want and how do you give them a valuable opportunity in a cost-effective manner?

More and more employees of organizations seek not just a paycheck but employee development and career growth. Often times HR professionals are charged with associate development among their daily tasks. Both e-learning and classroom learning are ways to grow, develop, and retain your current workforce. But, is in-person classroom training worth the increased cost and travel expense? Here are some benefits that'll help HR professionals learn that the traditional classroom might no longer be the best choice. 

According to the American Society for Training and Development an average of 40 hours of training a year for every employee is a recommended minimum in the traditional workplace. Whether it’s through seminars, workshops, or classes, training and development are important to employees who want to succeed in their careers. In order to provide some type of continuing education employers are looking for methods to do so without interrupting day-to-day operations and at minimal cost.

The debate between e-learning and classroom learning is one that has stretched since the early years of the Internet. To reduce the amount of time in the classroom, blended approaches have been implemented in not only college campuses, but in professional trainings. Although seminars and workshops will never be replaced, e-learning has increased in popularity through the use of webinars and online training.

The cost of the classroom not only extends to travel and decreased productivity, but time and cost are bigger players in classroom trainings. E-learning cannot only be done from the comfort of your office, but encourages higher levels of collaborations and learning. By taking a holistic approach, a company can arrive at a training process that is more engaging and effective than traditional face-to-face learning at an economical cost.

Classroom learning may excel when a student already has a basic understanding of the subject matter and human touch is needed to develop a higher level of knowledge whereas e-learning is perfect for those who are being introduced to a subject for the first time. Classrooms have blended themselves for those who not only learn differently, but also learn at different speeds. Assessments have been introduced into e-learning to help control the efficiency behind learning.

A benefit of e-learning over classroom learning is the ability to engage and be more collaborative. Those who participate in e-learning have a great level of access to mentors, experts, colleagues, and professionals both inside and outside their organization without having to travel to far off places. With the focus on the participant, e-learning can ensure employees fully master the training content, ultimately leading to greater job performance.

Whether you take on a holistic approach or a traditional approach, career development opportunities must be part of the mix in your employee retention strategies.  As the world evolves and new technologies are being developed it is important that companies allow their employees ample development to stay on top of these trends. Career development is a win-win situation for both you and your employees—they’re happy enough to stay and keeping them at the forefront of innovation and knowledge is good for your company. 

Have you found e-learning or classroom learning more effective in your own development? Why?

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs.

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