Making the most of online learning programs

E-training technology offers opportunity to improve workers’ skills, enhance quality of service
Thursday, August 1, 2019
By Jennifer Meek

Online learning systems are becoming a popular training option in the cleaning industry. These cost-effective tools provide janitorial workers with easy access to a broad range of courses that, when taken, can improve their level of performance, elevate their role and enhance their career potential.

But with so many online learning platforms now available, how do employers determine which is the best investment for their custodial team?

Quite simply, ask questions.

Cleaning equipment, products and technology are constantly evolving, so training must be revised to reflect those changes. Find out how frequently course content is updated and the platform’s method of continuous improvement. Employers should ensure workers can obtain important training information anywhere, anytime, including in the middle of a job, if necessary.

The best online learning programs can be accessed from any electronic device, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and even smartphones. Ease of access is also important. If workers aren’t comfortable using the program, they’re not going to engage with the training software.

Establish whether the platform is geared to the ‘tech-savvy’ or a wide range of people with different levels of online comfort. Make sure the program includes the option to review past courses, document training and provide recommended learning pathways to workers, too. Without this function, workers aren’t accountable for completing courses and, as a result, may be less motivated to continue taking them.

Eventually, training will fall by the wayside. Individually paced online training programs work best when there’s a testing component, so look to see if one is incorporated at the end of each course. This helps with the learning process and workers are more inclined to take the course seriously. Some newer programs allow users to provide course feedback, further engaging them in the training platform.

The art of motivation
Once an online learning platform has been selected, it’s time to put it to good use. To set workers up for success, employers should create a designated workstation where online training can be completed. Keep in mind that age may influence workers’ engagement preferences. If some learn better in their own environment, it might be beneficial to provide access to the online platform from home or via personal mobile devices. In addition to ease of access, a little encouragement will go a long way to motivating training participation.

Offer incentives for course completion, such as gift cards, pizza parties, executive recognition, opportunities for advancement and even paid time off. Newer online learning programs have partnered with certification organizations to provide even more resources for users, including the option to attain specific trade-focused certifications. These programs have the added benefit of a built-in incentive for workers to embark on the learning pathway. Upon completion, they will achieve a tangible item: certification.

Another way to spur participation is to encourage healthy competition. Some online learning programs have a tracking feature built into their platforms, allowing teams to monitor their course completion progress against others. This not only serves to motivate workers but also helps build collaborative teams.

Premium blend
There’s never quite a substitute for hands-on training in any field, particularly when new processes and equipment are involved. However, it’s not always possible to continuously offer one-on-one training to each member of a custodial team. Coordinating group training can also prove difficult. Employers must find and secure appropriate space, and then coordinate multiple schedules to ensure everyone can participate. In some instances, entire areas within a building may need to be shut down or core workers have taken off duty to accommodate the training session, which may not be viable.

A combination of hands-on and online training through a learning platform offers increased flexibility, greater engagement with learning materials and improved knowledge retention. The end result is higher performance and productivity levels across workers.

Adopting a blended approach to training also encourages workers to take ownership of their learning and development, which provides greater employee satisfaction.

Charlotte Products Ltd., has recently partnered with ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute to develop a new verified online learning platform that combines coursework in the cleaning standards of our industry, including CMI certification courses, with product-specific courses and is available to any organization through a seamless portal on Charlotte’s website. For more information, contact Jennifer Meek at meek@charlotteproducts.com.

Jennifer Meek is the director of marketing at Charlotte Products Ltd., a leading manufacturer of sustainable cleaning products.

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