Employee Education Questions: Onsite or Offsite Training?

There’s no doubt about it, employee education creates outstanding results for companies, but even so, most businesses aren’t quite sure how to go about it. The questions are many: What exactly should the subject matter include? Who should teach the materials? And the most common question of all: Should workers train onsite or offsite?

Employee education

Onsite vs. Offsite Training: The Pros and Cons

Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to this question, because it depends on several factors specific to your business. The most obvious reason to consider onsite training is because learning takes place in the actual work space on the same equipment and technology workers use in their day to day operations. However, there are other perks for onsite training, such as:

  • Less lost time.
  • No travel expenses.
  • No room rental fees.
  • Better access to company resources.
  • Easy to plan and schedule sessions.

According to Trainingmag.com, an offsite training location will make the training session more memorable and special, because of the change in environment. In addition, companies can choose a setting that can create a richer experience. Offsite training also has other advantages, such as:

  • Less interruptions from coworkers, calls and emails.
  • Trainees can focus exclusively on their training.
  • Uses no company resources, like equipment and supplies.
  • More individualized instruction.

Training Choices: Meeting in the Middle

According to trainer Mike Moore, some companies leverage both onsite and offsite training in order to cover all their bases. Both have their advantages, so combining them can create a better training program for your team. Not every topic requires one-on-one training. For example, many subjects may only take a 30-minute e-learning course for workers to absorb the main concepts. Online training works best for fundamentals, while onsite and offsite training sessions teach complex topics.

It is important to conduct a company analysis to discover weaknesses and strengths before implementing a training program. Once you hone in on the areas you need to improve in your organization, you can implement a training program to meet specific needs. Instead of tossing a dart, hoping to hit the right mark, you need to close the gaps in competency that will keep your company from meeting its business goals.

The Value of Conducting Employee Surveys

According to McKinsey.com, many companies will try out a new training program, find that it doesn’t bring the desired results, and then drop it completely. Instead of doing this, it is far better to discover where the gaps exist in employee skills by conducting a survey. Have your workers evaluate the current skills levels of their co-workers. In addition, ask them to suggest the skills needed to bring their team up to a higher level.

This approach not only heightens the awareness of employees in regards to the skills they need to succeed, it also encourages them to want to learn and adopt new skills to the job. By leveraging a program that focuses on the specific learning needs of your workers, you will save money and get much more out of your training program.

A good example of this involves a British Internet retailer, Ocado, based out of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The staff representatives had little to no experience using Excel. While some only needed a basic overview of the program, other staff members also needed basic IT skills in general to make using it easier and more efficient for them.

The enlisted Best STL, a group that teaches Excel courses in London to help get their staff up to snuff. They evaluated the team, delivery introductory and advanced day-long courses to the relevant groups. The introductory group received computer literacy training, as well as a general introduction to Excel for both home and business, while the advanced group received a more brief introductory training session, followed by one-to-one training to discuss possible Excel applications.

This targeted training helped the team by focusing on specific needs. The introductory team gained a greater appreciation of basic Excel skills for both business and home use, while the advanced team learned more about pivot and analytical tools, as well as the benefits of Excel VBA to develop bespoke tools.

So, the answer to the onsite vs. offsite question depends on a number of factors that you must examine carefully. By answering the “who, what, where and when” questions, you can decide which is better for your company, as well as your workers. Once you’ve completed your training program, be sure to conduct another survey with your team to see if the training was helpful or not. Continue to make changes until your training program covers all your needs.

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Flickr

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