Enhancing Employee Learning and Development with Learning Management Systems
October 18, 2023
A recent survey by Gallup found that nearly three-quarters of the U.S. workforce are not engaged. Learning and development (L&D) opportunities provide employees with a purpose, encourage community and foster curiosity, all of which can contribute to increased employee engagement. Furthermore, these programs show employees their development is valued, which can boost morale and improve attraction and retention. In fact, educational technology company LinkedIn Learning found that three of the top five reasons employees search for new jobs relate to their desire to learn, grow and develop new skills.
Successful L&D programs can also help employers reduce skills gaps and drive operational excellence. Yet, traditional learning opportunities aren’t always compatible with a modern workforce. For example, employers with a multi-generational workforce, a significant number of remote or semi-remote employees, or employees with a wide range of learning styles may find that conventional learning practices create unequal growth and learning opportunities within an organization. Therefore, finding an effective means for online training, such as a learning management system (LMS), is a critical aspect of many L&D programs.
What Is a Learning Management System?
An LMS is a software application or web-based technology employers can use to plan, design, implement and evaluate their L&D programs. They’re often used to store e-learning content and automate employee learning processes. LMSs can have basic functionality or be highly advanced technology that can gamify learning, advance social and mobile learning, and use artificial intelligence.
Learning management systems:
- Oversee training and e-learning
- Store, organize and distribute courses
- Track individual progress
- Set employee goals
- Communicate with individuals
- Provide detailed analyses
- Identify skills gaps
- Indicate individuals in need of additional support
Benefits of LMSs
LMSs can benefit organizations that want to provide self-paced learning opportunities or have a widely dispersed workforce. They can help organizations evolve, accelerate growth and address talent shortages.
Using an LMS for L&D programs may be advantageous, as it may:
Reduce cost. Over the long term, e-learning can be a cost-effective learning solution. With LMSs, employers don’t need to pay for travel, instructors, vendors or other materials (e.g., training manuals), which can reduce total training costs.
Save time. These systems allow employers to build complete courses quickly. These courses can continually reused and revised, reducing the time needed to onboard or retrain employees. Furthermore, LMSs lessen the administrative burden by automating much of the learning process. They also allow employees the opportunity for self-paced learning, which can reduce the amount of time employees spend away from work training.
Promote a learning culture. Giving employees a tool for continual and self-driven learning with LMSs can enable employers to create a culture of growth and learning. This can benefit both employers and employees by providing individuals with access to updated training and upskilling programs that can reduce skills gaps within an organization. LMSs also allow organizations to understand how effective their training programs are by measuring learning outcomes and connecting them to organizational performance.
Ensure compliance. Many organizations are required to provide employees with certain mandatory training (e.g., anti-harassment or health and safety training). LMSs track and store information proving that employees took and understood the required training. This can benefit employers in case of an audit or accident.
Boost engagement. Employers can create innovative and meaningful content to boost employee interest and engagement in L&D. Many LMSs allow for gamification, in which employees can unlock higher skill levels by gaining certain features, such as trophies and badges. This can motivate employees to reach new levels of learning and achievement, increasing engagement and improving the user experience.
Provide flexible learning. LMSs can easily be scaled up or down to meet the needs of an organization. Employers may choose from a wide variety of learning formats, including videos, webinars and e-learning modules. Personalized learning paths can also be created to meet individual needs, providing employees with an effective learning experience suited for them.
Increase accessibility. Using an online learning system can help employers provide all employees with equal access to onboarding and learning opportunities. This can help ensure that employees won’t be held back from professional growth due to location, schedule availability or learning styles.
Drawbacks of LMSs
As a software system, an LMS may not be right for every organization. Before purchasing an LMS, employers should consider the following potential disadvantages:
Set-up time. There is a significant upfront time commitment to implementing an LMS. After researching different LMS options, employers must learn how to create courses and implement the system, which may require administrators to undergo system training before launching the course. Additionally, coding and IT knowledge may be required to customize the courses.
User-friendliness. Employees who aren’t tech-savvy may initially struggle to adapt to online learning. As a result, it may take more time for some individuals to adapt to the new technology. Employers can help by selecting LMSs with simple and engaging features to improve employee engagement and use.
Associated costs. Although LMSs are generally a cost-effective learning solution, there are necessary expenditures, such as purchase fees and implementation, training, security and maintenance costs. These can quickly exceed an employer’s L&D budget. Employers may also find that they must hire additional third-party platforms to boost compatibility and functionality.
Limited options for personalized learning. The ability to individualize learning to meet employee needs is a crucial benefit of LMSs. However, some LMSs may provide limited opportunities for personalization, which can make employee learning and engagement less effective.
User issues. If LMS support fails to meet the needs of an organization, it can dramatically impact the functionality of an LMS and cause decreased employee engagement. For example, if an LMS only provides basic tutorial information, administrators and users may struggle with the functionality of courses. Furthermore, e-learning may not be right for all learning styles or all types of training (e.g., physical skills). It also lacks human connection, which some individuals may need or desire for optimal learning.
Lack of enforceability. Unlike in-person training, which is easy to enforce, LMSs require employees to be self-disciplined and follow through with their training with minimal oversight. As a result, employees may fail to complete essential training. They may also be able to cheat their way through LMS courses, which can undermine the effectiveness of L&D programs.
Employee L&D is a long-term investment that can contribute to organizational success by lowering turnover, reducing skills gaps and improving employee satisfaction. As organizations navigate the diverse needs of a modern workforce, learning technology such as LMSs may help ensure that all employees have equal access to learning and development opportunities.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your employee benefits broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.
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