If you are building a new training program or are revising an existing one, you may wonder if onsite training makes sense. And if you don’t currently have an onsite training facility, should you spend the money to create a designated space? These are just some of the circumstances to think about when deciding between onsite training or some other training like offsite training. The best place to start is by weighing the pros and cons of onsite training.
Cons to onsite training
Sometimes getting out of the office can act as a mini-retreat for employees. Holding a group meeting at a hotel or another offsite training facility forces employees to leave the office behind and solely focus on the training. Employees can’t run back to their office for example and check on tasks left undone. Plus, if you create some team bonding exercises, it can help grow the team professionally and also personally.
When you hold training offsite you can customize the setting. For example, you can pick the room size you need, the table configurations or the ideal environment to train your employees. And by controlling the environment, the more your employees will be engaged during training and the more likely they will retain the information learned once training is complete.
If you are a smaller company and do not have a learning department, hiring an outside firm to run your training may seem beneficial. Not only will this company provide the space needed for the training, but they will provide a specialist to run the training. This could save you the time and effort of taking this task on yourself.
Advantages to onsite training
Now let’s discuss some of the pluses to onsite training.
When you hold your training onsite, you save time trying to find a facility to hold your training in off-site. Whether you have an entire learning team or it’s a single person department, it takes effort to research places to hold training for your teams, secure the space for the time you need the training, and to make sure the facility has the necessary technology for you to carry out your training.
Onsite training often saves money. When you train off-site, you need to pay for a facility to hold the training in. You also need to figure out transportation to and from the training if it’s not nearby. Plus, if you choose a hotel for example to hold the training, you may pay for hotel lodging for a night or two just so you can fit in multiple training sessions in the same block of time. And if you are choosing a longer training session like this, you will need to incorporate food and beverage costs for your teams.
In today’s world, customers want to do business with an organization who cares about the environment, gives back, and doesn’t spend money they don’t have to. So by holding a large offsite training where the company is paying a large sum of money for its employees to receive training, it may look like a waste of money to customers and even employees, not in the training. This could create backlash both internally and externally for your company.
No business loss
When you train off site, your employees don’t have access to their physical office space. Although most files and documents can be accessed remotely, being at remote training removes employees from their workday. For example, an employee could get a call from a client that requires them to collaborate with another team member in the office. If they were onsite training, it would be easy to walk down the hall, chat briefly, and get back to the client quickly. However, if you are offsite, this process could take longer either irritating the client or potentially losing business.
If you are doing some executive coaching for your senior-level management team, for example, this training may be sensitive and not something you want leaked to customers or even competitors. Holding training off-site makes you a bit more vulnerable to security issues. This may also be a problem for new product roll out training sessions or compliance type training where training materials and handouts need to be taken by trainees upon class completion. Leaving material behind in a public hotel room, for example, could be problematic if they were to fall into the wrong hands
What training is best for your company?
Now that you know some of the advantages to online training as well as the drawbacks, how do you decide if onsite training makes sense for your organization? A good place to start is consulting with a learning management system provider. They can listen to your pros and cons and help you make your decision. If you choose to incorporate a corporate LMS, you’ll see that the positives to online training way outweigh the negatives. And even the drawbacks to onsite training can be solved with the correct LMS provider.
If you currently have an LMS provider and are thinking about switching or if you are still unsure if onsite training makes sense for your company, here are some key questions to ask yourself. These questions can help guide your decision.
1. What are your training goals?
The first step to consider is what do you hope to accomplish by moving your training onsite? Maybe it was one of the advantages we mentioned above or something else. But no matter the reason, write down the reasons for moving your training in-house versus off-site. Make sure to consider how your employees learn best. In other words, how will moving training onsite strengthen their learning and development?
2. What are your learning objectives?
Next, if you do not have specific learning objectives written down, you’ll want to draft these. This process will help you decide which training path to take. These should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Plus, learning objectives should help
- tell your trainees what will be focused on
- show stakeholders how successful training will be
- make assessment easier
- help instructors gain insights into the learning process
3. What training materials do you currently have?
After you identify what learning needs to take place, it’s a great time to take inventory of your current training materials. If you don’t currently have an LMS, these training materials may be in different iterations scattered on your Intranet or stored in various places. If you are going to revamp your training, now is the time to organize your materials. You’ll want just the latest versions stored in one central location like an LMS for easy access for both facilitators and employees. Once organized, it will be easier to choose your training method.
4. What skills does your company need?
This is a large question and may take some time. But in order to run a successful training program, you’ll want to perform a skills gap analysis. In simple terms, this will tell you what skills your employees currently have and which skills you need them to have in order to complete daily tasks and company goals. Once you figure out what skills need to be learned, this will help tailor your training program.
5. How will your employees learn?
If you are used to hiring an outside company to manage your training off-site or utilizing space other than your office for training, you may view training as just classroom-based. However, in today’s training and development world, there are so many more ways to learn. Onsite training can consist of a blended learning environment where some training takes place in person and some training takes place virtually at an employee’s workstation.
Besides the physical location of training is how an employee learns. Some training is best learned through assessments. While other training makes sense in a peer to peer or scenario settings. And you’ll also want to take into account different employee personalities. For example, your marketing department may do better with essay-style learning while your developers may learn better through gamification in training.
The point is when you assess your learning program, you open up a world of different ways to train that may work better than just offsite training. If you are new to some of these forms of training, partnering with an LMS provider can help. They can walk you through the various training and development available and customize a learning program to match your company’s needs.
6. How will you administer training?
One of the benefits we discussed for offsite training is using an outside facilitator for a course if you don’t have one on staff. However, if you begin onsite training, you can cut out these outside facilitators or at least minimize their use. Once you start using a variety of learning tools like the ones we discussed plus more of a blended learning style, you won’t use a classroom setting 100 percent of the time. And, by storing training materials in a central place like an LMS, you can train your more senior employees to become facilitators cutting costs. And setting up a company mentoring program is a great company benefit.
7. Where will my onsite training take place?
This question may seem obvious. At my business. But this is more of a question as to where within your company. If you are looking at onsite training because you are thinking of building a dedicated space for training, that is one thing. However, if building a separate training facility is not in the budget, think about if you can make one conference room a dedicated space for training. Take into account things like:
- Furniture that can be rearranged
- Sound quality
- Power sources for employee laptops
- Speaker podium or dedicated area for instructor
The bottom line is the more conducive to training this area can be, the easier it will be to move away from offsite training. Plus, you’ll get better buy-in from stakeholders and employees alike.
8. Do my employees have the technology?
One drawback of off-site training is it is well offsite. This means you need to think about or have an outside company gather all necessary technology for the training session. It is one thing to make sure the room is wired, but it is also important to consider your employees. Sometimes this can be a huge hassle for example if everyone in the room must have access to a specific piece of software or a specialized video component.
An easier way to accomplish this is with blending learning onsite. Some of your training can take place in a conference room or other dedicated space like we just discussed. And the other training can be virtually from a learning management system at an employee’s desk.
In order to accomplish this, you’ll want to consider what other technology your employees will need. For example, do you have salespeople who will need to take training while traveling or do you have remote workers who will be accessing training from personal computers? Taken technology into account can help guide your training plan.
If you are considering onsite training, it comes with many advantages including cutting costs and saving time. However, it’s important to weigh several factors like what your learning objectives are, training needs, and how your employees actually retain what has been taught. By answering a few questions, you can decide if onsite training makes sense for your organization.
Just keep in mind that employee opinions are always evolving and according to the 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer, employees are looking for flexibility from their employers more than ever. So by offering this same flexibility with an onsite training program through methods like blended learning, peer to peer learning, and gamification in training, you’ll be giving your employees what they are asking for. In return, you’ll attract and retain top talent.