Online Training Programs: The Pros and Cons

Posted by Mark Jackson on Tue, Apr, 21, 2015 @ 10:04 AM

With every aspect of employee life becoming automated or moving to the cloud, it only makes sense that training would end up in the crosshairs of discussion. Currently, only 34% of workers have participated in some sort of computer-based or online training program for work. Like with many of the new changes in work, there are of course strengths and weaknesses. But ultimately, does turning over on-the-job training for candidates over the computer programs benefit the companies, or is it a safer bet to use a more personal touch?


Discussing Potential Disadvantages 

Many of the disadvantages people see in leaving training up to programs don’t actually have to do with the software itself, but the people who use it. For example, many of the disadvantages of online training programs listed by TribeHR here are the result of poor workers, not technology failures. If workers aren’t motivated to use the software, it could be the software doesn’t pass muster, but it could also be the employee who doesn’t want to implement a new process will allow them to work better. Similarly, the fear that the technology could lead to feelings of isolation could be assuaged by combining the technology with a more personal touch from managers.

This isn’t to say there aren’t disadvantages to online training. Technological access inhibits the kinds of people and industries that have access to online training, and this is a difficult problem to overcome. However, these problems, while serious, should not affect that large majority those who can implement online training.

Train Better, Save Money

In 2013, companies spent an average of $1,208 on training per employee, according to a recent report by The Association of Talent Developments. How does that training break down?

  • 63% of this money is spent on internal services, such as learning department staff salaries, travel costs and a host of other minor costs.
  • 27% of it is spent on external services, such as consultants, content development, licenses, workshops and training programs.
  • 10% is spent on tuition reimbursement.

It doesn’t take a math wiz to see how online training programs could cut down on those internal services. When training’s online and automated, there are far fewer people to pay, less travel to account for, and most of the minor costs (such as a non-salary development and delivery costs) are included in the cost of the software. And with providing many of the benefits of regular, face-to-face training in most situations, what’s not to like?

Tweet This: It doesn't take a math wiz to see how online training programs could cut down on internal services.

Creating and Tracking Results

It may be cheaper, but does online training provide any real benefits other than monetary ones? Absolutely. A recent study conducted by MIT found that not only is online learning just as effective as face-to-face training, but that amount people learned in an online college course was greater than in a traditional lecture-lead class.

But how do you know if your training program is working?

"[Assessments] can be administered between modules or after the entire course, and can be intelligently designed to test against the learning objectives of that course. The scores on these assessments can be used to highlight whether the trainee is grasping the concepts/skills and whether they require any extra help. LMS’s support in-built assessment features that can report on employee performance and can further provide certification for the completed courses.” — Nikita Anand (@learnzippy), Marketing Associate for LearnZippy

Online training isn’t perfect, but many of its problems can be solved by fixing issues with the people using it. This is a small price to pay for cheaper, better training that can be more easily monitored, leading to more accurate data and better decision-making for your company.

Looking for company training programs that are cheaper, better and will get employees up to speed in no time? Visibility Software’s Cyber Train has everything you need to take your new hire to the next level. Sign up today and receive a free demo!

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Tags: cyber train, training, Employee Training

Real Learning Doesn’t Need Bells and Whistles

Posted by Mark Jackson on Thu, Apr, 16, 2015 @ 09:04 AM

Learning Management Systems are a technology, and as with any technology, it’s subject to the fervor some people get when it comes to tech. HR Professionals want the latest and greatest, all the time, and are willing to pay extra for a new phone, camera, television or other piece of tech if they know it’s capable of more than someone else’s product. This chase for the state-of-the-art can be fun when it comes to consumer electronics, but it can often lead to technology that’s too confusing and distracting for many people to use. Rather than treating technology as a Swiss army knife (tools made to solve a number of problems without specializing), companies should look for fly swatters (tools that target only a specific problem). Why?


It Takes the Focus Off of Learning

Companies want to advertise something they have that others don’t, and this is how the concept of “Feature Creep” comes in. Feature Creep is when a product has so many auxiliary features it detracts from the product’s main purpose, and in some cases can kill the product itself. Often buyers are confused about which ones they truly need (because many consider vendors to be experts) and end up wanting to find a total system that incorporates them all. When this happens, it can create a hole in the middle of the product, usually right where the product is supposed to be at its best.

In the case of the LMS, Feature Creep rears its head in the form of a content focus. In a recent study, LMS vendors and users revealed how LMS are diverging from their main purpose:

  • 66% of LMS vendors reported that their Learning Management System focused less on learning and more on delivering content.
  • 58% of faculty members using LMS at schools reported they use it more for disseminating information than engaged learning.
  • Only 41% of faculty members used their LMS of choice to promote interactions outside the classroom. 

Why is this important? Because a learning management system should manage learning, not simply be a delivery source for information. As a training professional or HR pro, you want to ensure your employees are getting the education they need around specific job points… not just stuff you could send them via email.


Tweet This: A Learning Management System should manage learning, not be just a source of information.


Engineering Distractions 

This divergence from learning isn’t necessarily bad, per se; lots of pieces of technology end up being used for something different than their intended purpose (the telephone, for example, was originally conceived by Alexander Graham Bell as a way to record music). But it’s when the focus on creating the product becomes about better bells and whistles than on making a better product that this divergence can lead to problems. Our CEO Sean Pomeroy has cautioned against the focus of tech on periphery features over specialization:

“I remember someone telling me one time, ‘nobody buys a drill because they want a drill. Nobody says gosh, I want the best drill ever! They buy a drill because they want a hole.” 

If you load up your LMS with too many features, you’re either going to end up with a different product, or you’re going to end up burdening your current one. If an LMS focuses too much on content, or notifications, or other features that distract from learning, it could end up distracting employees more than helping them learn, as they have to figure out all the new features of a product. And with distractions costing companies an estimated $588 million per year, you don’t want a product adding to those costs.


Better Focus Beats Spreading Thin

But how do you beat the crowd, if having all the world’s features can end up hurting a product? Simple: Focus. An increasing array of products advertise their ability to do two things at once; phones, computers, video game consoles. They pride themselves on their ability to appeal to the increasing pervasiveness of multitasking, but chasing this incentive is a bubble waiting to burst. Only 2% of people can actually multitask, and most who try to perform multiple actions at once do worse at both.

The real focus of an LMS, as always, should be learning and simplicity. That doesn’t mean feature sets and simplicity have to be mutually exclusive, though; there’s a market emerging for systems whose design allows them to do more without losing sight of the important parts. As it stands, 25% of companies use multiple Learning Management Systems to do various tasks — using one for actually learning and another for keeping track of tasks. An LMS that can do both of these things, without having one distract from the other, will better serve its clients in the long run, and won’t need all the fancy accouterments of other systems. 

Visibility Software’s Learning Management System is all you’ll ever need. Our Cyber Recruiter and Cyber Train solutions will help keep new hires and longstanding veterans alike engaged on the tasks at hand. Don’t believe us? Sign up for a demo and see for yourself!


Tags: LMS, learning management system

Build Culture and Collaboration Like A Shark

Posted by Mark Jackson on Tue, Apr, 07, 2015 @ 08:04 AM

Sharks are fearsome creatures, but they’re not to be feared. Although there were only a total of three fatal shark attacks worldwide in 2014, movies and television have made us fear sharks. Sharks are indeed formidable when confronted, but whether they’re fish that look for blood or investors looking to take a small idea to the next level, you shouldn’t be afraid of looking one in the face. In fact, everyone in the world of business, including recruiters, HR reps, or anyone looking to develop a culture at their company can take a cue from these sharks to build a better workplace, without the need to go too far into the deep end.


Rows of Teeth - Prepared For Failure

Sharks have two rows for teeth for chewing food and prey, but they actually have several rows of developing teeth behind those two rows, since they can lose several of their teeth per year. Similarly, companies looking to expand their culture and grow as a business shouldn’t be afraid to lose some teeth (or their case, money). Barbara Corcoran, Co-Founder of Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners and perhaps the world’s most famous “shark,” has described how she’s okay with parting with some serious money for the sake of innovation.

"Each year, I gave all my managers 5 percent of their operating budget to use however they wished with no accountability. If they didn't spend their mad money by year-end, they had to give it back. No one ever did, and they blew it on all kinds of stupid things like ad hoc parties and day trips, costume and movie rentals, surprise bonuses for good deeds, gifts, fortune-tellers and lots of alcohol. They also spent it on wacky business ideas—most of which didn't work. But they learned to laugh it off and, in the process of failing, tripped over some good business ideas that did work."

Use all your teeth. Don’t be afraid of trying something out and having it not work. It doesn’t have to be financially, either — taking the time to do something new, even if it won’t work out, can sometimes be worth the risk.


Dorsal Fin - Having important signifiers 

Sharks have fins atop their bodies for better swimming and balance, but the iconic fin poking out of the water has become their calling card in film and television, giving them an intimidating presence (even if sharks don’t swim up to surface very often). Every good company has similarly an iconic logo, but this sort of imagery should also extend to the internal culture. Having something unique at your company can make the difference between employees who feel like they’re a part of something and those who are just there for the benefits. 

It doesn’t have to be a symbol, either — many companies have unique cultural traits that set them apart and make employees feel special. Zappos offers new employees $2,000 to leave because they only want people who love working there; Google lets its employees spend a fifth of their time however they want; Disney asks employees about their childhood dreams before hiring them. And it doesn’t have to just be big companies. Small companies have even more freedom when it comes to making their culture unique and interesting.

Tweet This: 86% of employees and execs cite lack of communication as responsible for workplace failures.


Hunt In Packs - Collaborative Culture 

Many kinds of sharks hunt in packs, making it easier to hunt larger prey and allowing them to hunt groups of fish more easily. Like these social sharks, companies should always encourage a culture of collaboration centered around a single pivot. Collaboration is so important, in fact, that 86% of employees and executives alike cite a lack of communication as responsible for workplace failures. Without the ability to talk to each other about critical tasks, it’s impossible to know who’s doing what, and creating teams for projects helps alleviate this. What’s more, making sure employees aren’t afraid to ask for help on difficult tasks will help everyone out in the long run. 

Tweet This: 90% of companies improved productivity after implementing a collaboration system.

If you’re looking for a good way to centralize your collaboration, try using a system where everyone can pitch in on tasks. 90% of companies say their productivity improved when they implemented a collaboration system in their office. Why not give it a chance? After all, the only thing you have to lose is some teeth.

Visibility Software Learning Management System can help employees get into the swing of learning from failure, creating a more diverse employer culture and implementing collaborative practices. Sign up for a demo today and see how much more innovative your company could be!



Tags: company culture, LMS, learning management system

Perform Business CPR With Your New CPO

Posted by Mark Jackson on Thu, Mar, 26, 2015 @ 08:03 AM

A common business mantra you may have heard before is “do more with less.” Whether it’s avoiding fake work, managing your revenue and expenses to make sure you’re getting the most for your money, or consolidating departments into each other, the idea of making the most of what you’ve got is an alluring one. Shouldn’t companies always want to get more out of their expenses, employees and assets? If the mantra is to do less with more, what were businesses doing before?


Enter the CPO, a recent addition to the executive repertoire. The positions of CPO came into prominence after President Obama added the position to his stable and named Jeffrey Zients his first CPO with the goal of having him “streamline processes, cut costs, and find the best practices throughout our government.” The CPO is the answer to all of the “do more with less” needs, but what exactly is a CPO? How do they help maximize your businesses’ talent and finances simultaneously? How do you get one?

CPO vs. CPO: What’s the difference?

Before we begin to define what a CPO is, we should clear up a bit of the alphabet soup. “CPO” can mean a number of things, but for our purposes, it means two things: Chief Procurement Officer, and Chief Performance Officer.

A Chief Procurement Officer is effectively the leader of the HR department at a company. They handle all the human resources issues and handle talent acquisition matters. They’re responsible for how employees are treated, how they work, and how to find (procure, if you will) new hires. A Chief Performance Officer, on the other hand, takes a bit from the Procurement field and adds a bit of finance. Mark Feffer (@markfeffer), President of Tramp Steamer Media, does a great job of defining the role of the CPO.

"CPO takes an organization-wide view of performance, developing measurements to gauge the results of various units, working with stakeholders to improve them, and reporting on performance to the organization’s chief executive... In essence, the CPO becomes the go-to person for issues related to an organization’s performance in all aspects of its operation.”

A Performance Officer would take the idea of talent and turn it into something that helps inform ideas of performance, then taking both of those ideas and measuring them against expenses.

A Chief Performance Bump

But why are these CPOs necessary? Because businesses around the world are constantly motivated to improve their performance, and to do this, one needs a keen understanding of both the financial and human aspects that drive it.

According to a recent survey, 57% of HR departments have increased spending on analytics, the kinds that help them understand how their employees are performing. Additionally, 70% of CEOs are concerned about finding the right kinds of candidates for positions they need filled, and 58% worry about the rising labor costs associated with entering high-growth markets. This tells us that the ideas of big-picture finances and talent management are intertwined much more closely than we thought, and order to maximize both, a company needs someone who can dip their hands in both.

Tweet This: 57% of HR departments have increased spending on analytics.

Now we have to figure out who that is. If you’re looking to promote from within, look no further than some of your top-performing employees, who may already be doing some of the things necessary to become a valuable CPO. Top performers don’t get where they are alone; 83% of them use big data to gain insights about their business, which is the exact kind of thing a CPO would need to do. They also know how to bring different departments together, and 88% of top performers can collaborate well with others, including people outside their enterprise. Finally, a Good CPO knows which way the winds are blowing, and 73% of top performers do too, adapting to changing market conditions on the fly.

So when asking your company to do more with less, start at the top and implement a CPO who can merge performance with finance and give you the performance increase you’ve been looking for. Your CPO may already work at your company or it may be someone you bring in from the outside, either way, with an executive focused solely on performance and procurement, you maximize talent and efficiency.

If you’re looking to maximize your talent and get more out of what you’re spending on its acquisition, look no further than Visibility Software. Visibility offers Cyber Recruiter, your one-stop ATS offering applicant routing, interview scheduling, onboarding services and more. Sign up today and get a free demo!


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Tags: cyber recruiter, Performance, HR analytics

Succession Planning: The Core Issue of Leadership Failings

Posted by Sean Pomeroy on Wed, Mar, 18, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

An organizational succession plan should always have a plan B. It is one of the biggest problems for any business and a core issue for leadership. Succession planning is like an insurance plan for the survival of your business. So it stands to reason then, that if you don’t have a succession plan, you can’t ensure that your business will survive after your resignation. The good news is, it’s never too late to start the development of a succession plan. All you and your team have to do is answer a few questions and write the plan to set it in motion once it’s needed. It’s no easy task however, and as it becomes a higher priority as Baby Boomers enter retirement it’s of growing importance to be able to answer these questions. Brendan O’Neil, Solutions Architect at CareerBuilder, provides the essential questions to ask in order to create a well-rounded succession plan:


  1. How many people will be leaving the organization - both voluntarily and involuntarily - over the next 5-7 years?
    The youngest Baby Boomers turn 50 this year and are preparing to retire. Your organization has to be ready for the retirement or removal of key players to the team. The maturing age group makes up 13% of the American population, and that could mean a large percentage of employees retiring from your organization.

  1. What skill sets will those employees who are leaving take with them?
    In preparation for several key members to leave the organization, understand what their positions are. Detail job descriptions accordingly so the team can adjust functionally and culturally for the impending change.

  1. Will we recruit externally or promote from within to fill those gaps?
    A vast majority of organizations - 77% of them - realize the significance of internally recruiting candidates for promotion. However, even though so many understand this key fact, 54% do less than one-third of their recruitment from within the organization. Take into account the financial responsibility of committing to an external recruitment plan and if that’s a risk your organization is willing to take. While internal recruitment strategies may save the budget, external recruitment can bring life and fresh ideas into the office.

  1. What’s going on outside the organization that could affect my ability to recruit the employees we need?
    Pay attention to economic and employment trends. Mass layoffs and the size of college graduating classes are just two examples that can have an impact on how your team formulates a recruitment strategy.

  1. Where is the supply of candidates going to come from?
    Your career page, job boards, and social job advertisement all have a part in recruitment strategies. What do they have in common? They are all on the internet. Online recruiting can save companies as much as 50% in cost-per-hire.

  1. Where will our company be in 3-5 years, and what does that mean for the type of people we will need to recruit?
    Projecting your organizational needs as well as employee needs can help decide the future of your team. This can help your recruitment team determine which niche job boards it will be best to post job openings to. 

  2. What type of training opportunities do we need to provide to ensure our current employees develop the skills we need?
    As the Baby Boomers enter retirement, the Millennials are entering professional employment. That means, your organization will need to prepare the training programs set in place appropriately. Because 40% of Millennials are interested in careers that allow for growth and accomplishment, training programs need to determine a career path.

Now that you’ve asked all of these questions, do you have a backup plan? Your succession plan is dependent upon how thorough the questions are answered so your organization can be prepared from A to Z when a key team player leaves the company. Give your team the tools they need to keep the organization thriving as Baby Boomers retire. They have big shoes to fill and with a succession plan, it will be much simpler for your team to compensate for any gaps in the team.


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Tags: cyber recruiter, Leadership, Succession Planning