How do you create online training that works well for employees that have different ages, technical proficiencies and education levels while still getting the results you need? This is a challenge — particularly on courses (like onboarding) that will be taken by all employees at one point in time.
Different generations place importance on different aspects of their training. For instance, younger workers tend to see gamification, as well as social and mobile capabilities as beneficial to their training. In order to create training that works for all, it need not simply be a series of compromises in order to create training that works. Rather it should be a more thoughtful, smart approach in order to create training that helps bring out the best performance for all.
Where to start
The best place to start is to get a handle on the makeup of your workforce. It could have a wider or narrower range depending on the industry. In order to get the best sense of how the training should look, it’s helpful to look at demographic markers such as age, technical proficiency, and employee experience.
Ease Of Use
Even if all your employees do have high technical proficiency, this doesn’t mean that a course should be overly complex. It should be designed with ease of use in mind. A course should be a tool that facilitates training performance, not impedes it. A common misconception is that overly complex courses are the most thought out. It’s not what you put in but rather what you leave out that makes a course truly successful.
A course should be designed in such a way that it allows even the novice to navigate through easily. Although if it becomes overly helpful, it risks being viewed as condescending and that turns off all learners.
An online training course needs to be readable by all employees in order to get the message across. Some employees may have a higher education level than others therefore the language must be readable by all. An important distinction to make is that language needs to be clear, not “dumbed down”. By targeting a lower reading level it forces the designer to have a better understanding of the subject matter. If the designer can articulate their understanding, the course will become better because of it.
If you’ve seen as many elearning courses as we have, then you’ll soon agree with us that visual appeal is critical. As a rule of thumb, a design needs to complement the course, not distract from it. It needs to make sense within the context of the course content. For elearning courses, there should be a visual balance between the images and the content. Even more text heavy online training like E-manuals benefit from thoughtful visual design like the treatment of text, font choice and color. It doesn’t have to be flashy to be appealing visually. All ranges of employees can agree on that.
Some older employees may prefer to take online training at their desk. However, that shouldn’t be at the expense of younger employees who prefer to take their training on their own time and on the device they choose. It can work both ways. A course that is published to HTML5 format can be viewed just as easily on a desktop or laptop computer as it can on a tablet or smartphone. The very best mobile courses can even be viewed on a smartphone and have their design rearrange itself so they can be viewed as easily as on a desktop.
Designing for all employees isn’t about compromises, it’s about smart decisions and partnering with the right custom elearning developer who knows how to take into account employee demographics today while being forward-thinking to ensure that your online training works and is appealing to the next generation of employees as well.