Plan Your Learning Strategy
The key to an effective e-learning training program is a well-developed learning strategy. Identify your overall training objectives, and then determine what role you want e-learning to play in the achievement of those objectives. Some organizations make the mistake of thinking e-learning is their learning strategy, instead of a tool in their overall learning arsenal. As a result, those organizations rarely experience much success.
Secure Inter-Departmental Cooperation
Unlike other methods of training, e-learning is not something that can be implemented by the training department alone. It’s critical that you work with your Information Technology department to make sure your training rollout is free of operational difficulties. Be assured that if you fail to involve IT, operational problems will arise at the most inopportune times. It’s also a good idea to involve the Human Resources department. HR can help you identify different ways to utilize the wide range of record keeping opportunities offered by e-learning programs. HR can also identify any potential confidentiality issues.
Develop or Invest in Content that is Specific to You
Currently, there isn’t a lot of content available that is specific to the foodservice industry, which means the initial investment can be expensive. Some organizations balk at paying this price and instead choose to purchase generic content that is not foodservice industry-specific. Although it may be tempting to try and modify generic content to fit your needs, in the end your results will suffer. Leave the general industry courses to the general industry organizations. If you are ready to take the plunge into e-learning, you should be prepared to invest in the content that is right for your organization. An initial investment in content that is tailored to your learning strategy will better enable you to achieve your training objectives.
Test Your Content
Many people immediately assume that it is necessary to have a sophisticated technological solution, such as a learning management system (LMS), in place before an e-learning program can be successful. In reality, starting with technology before the content has been adequately tested results in failure 75 percent of the time. To avoid this pitfall, test your content to verify that it achieves your training objectives. If it does, you can pay to have your content hosted on an external LMS at a relatively low cost. After you begin to realize returns on your initial investment, you will be in a much better position to purchase your own LMS that can be rolled out to the entire organization in a cost-effective manner.
Give Yourself Time to Do It Right
Some organizations are surprised at the length of the timeline required for the initial implementation of an e-learning program. In reality, e-learning takes just as long to plan, develop and coordinate as any other quality venture. Consider enlisting the assistance of an organization or person with experience in e-learning implementation. This experience will be invaluable in ensuring the rollout of an effective program in a reasonable timeframe.
Secure Your Training Stations
E-learning does require in-unit training stations. Investing in these computers and setting up a space to house them can be a challenge. However, with the declining cost of computers and the rising availability of affordable laptops and other portable technologies, this is less of an issue than ever.
So, is the Time Really Right?
Although it has lagged behind other industries in realizing the many benefits of an e-learning training program, the foodservice industry is poised to take full advantage of this exciting tool. It is in the enviable position of being able to learn from the past experiences of other industries and get it right the first time. The foodservice organizations that apply the tips in this article to develop an e-learning training program that raises employee competency, reduces turnover and increases overall revenue. For the foodservice industry, the time is definitely right.
About the Authors
Jeff Tenut and John Poulos are Partners at DiscoverLink, Inc., an experienced provider of learning solutions specializing in e-learning. They work with a wide range of foodservice organizations to assess their training needs and develop the overall learning strategy, e-learning program and content to meet those needs.
About People Report
People Report™ is the foremost provider of workforce metrics, benchmarks, trends and best people practices for the foodservice industry. With more than 90 member companies, the mission of People Report is to be the catalyst for service companies seeking to balance people and profits. Services include quarterly and annual reports for its members that track, analyze and benchmark the people side of the P&L. In addition to its member only reports, People Report conducts broad national research on the service sector workforce of today and tomorrow, including demographics, compensation & benefit information, recruiting and training practices, turnover costs and solutions and more. Visit the experts on current and future HR trends for the foodservice industry at www.peoplereport.com to download and order reports, find a speaker, as well as learn more about membership.