Changing Corporate Cultures Ain’t Easy: How to Overcome eLearning Challenges & Get Stakeholder Buy-In

Creating a corporate training program can be an arduous, costly task. On top of building the program itself, you also have to convince corporate stakeholders that this is a worthwhile investment in the company.

However, eLearning and online training platforms offer companies a very valuable alternative to traditional in-person training programs. Despite the benefits, though, some company decision-makers are hesitant to make the switch and embrace a new company culture mindset.

To solve this and enact cultural change in your organization, you need to follow these steps: fully understand the value of eLearning, identify your stakeholders, communicate why eLearning and your training program are important to the company, and sell them on how it will improve the bottom line.

Why eLearning is Important

The workplace has shifted and changed significantly in the last decades due to advancements in technology. eLearning has made a tremendous impact on the corporate workforce and has been applauded by many who have seen the benefits of its effectiveness.

Many companies are experiencing a significant corporate cultural shift as they choose to either embrace eLearning and all its benefits, or reject it for more traditional business methods. Many people believe that a 35-hour week that is squeezed into 8 hours each day is not an effective use of time. The inability for an individual to work remotely is problematic as well, as this will limit their productivity and their ability to innovate outside the office.

This is where eLearning comes in. eLearning has offered many organizations everywhere a way to break out of this mold, allowing individuals to remain productive and innovative outside the workplace. It has emerged as one of the most effective ways for them to keep up with a rapidly changing world.
Here are some of the numerous advantages to eLearning and online training solutions:

  • Cost effective, by reducing fees associated with in-person training such as travel, accommodations, or taking time off work to attend a class>
  • Designed to be easy to use and highly productive
  • Ability to customize each employee’s training based on their needs
  • Streamlines training content so all employees can gain knowledge about all company policies without attending a class
  • Provides an interactive environment that boosts performance
  • Allows the employer to tailor content for specific audiences and changes in business demands
  • Organizations can broaden their reach by delivering relevant training content
  • Employees can complete training and eLearning programs at their own pace
The increasing dependence on technology by the workforce has forced many businesses to look for ways to increase their output without spending money on labor and infrastructure. Companies see eLearning as a way to maximize efficiency, while also increasing quality and employee satisfaction.

Research is finding that employers who make a substantial investment in learning programs for their employees see a two-year average return of more than 4x the original investment.
Research is finding that employers who make a substantial investment in learning programs for their employees see a two-year average return of more than 4x the original investment. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why companies are looking for ways to invest in eLearning and other new technologies.

With the right training, any employee can figure out how to use new software and hardware and learn new skills in a fraction of the time it would take them to do so on their own. More importantly is that employees will take this knowledge with them when they leave the company which means fewer re-training needs for new employees which saves business money and reduces turnover rates.

The benefits of eLearning are numerous, but adopting it in your company will require a mindset shift, and a corporate culture change. This is why it is important to be clear on the benefits, so you can influence the decision makers to embrace it.

Identify Stakeholders

Now that you are clear on the benefits of eLearning and online training platforms, you can start to communicate this to decision-makers in your company. To begin a cultural shift like switching to eLearning, you need to know who you are communicating to, what their motivations are, and how to communicate that shift effectively.

The first step in gaining stakeholder buy-in is identifying who they are and their initial key concerns. The main stakeholders should be those that have an interest in the success of your project, or those that may suffer negative consequences if it fails. Stakeholders are any person or group who has a vested interest in the outcome of a situation. They include not only those within the company but also customers and suppliers as well as anyone else in the company’s ecosystem. When it comes to corporate training, there are several types of stakeholders you should consider:
  • Decision makers, including management and C-suite levels
  • All company employees
  • Customers and clients
  • Competitors or potential competitors
  • Lenders and financial Institutions 
  • Educational institutions that train your employees
  • Media outlets that cover your company
  • Professional associations and societies for your profession

By creating a list and reviewing how the switch to eLearning will impact each of these stakeholders, you will be better positioned to explain the value of eLearning and begin that cultural shift towards embracing it.
By creating a list and reviewing how the switch to eLearning will impact each of these stakeholders, you will be better positioned to explain the value of eLearning and begin that cultural shift towards embracing it. This list will also help you understand the logistics of switching to eLearning, including potential challenges or roadblocks to be addressed that are personal to each stakeholder.

Present Your eLearning Program to Company Decision-Makers

At this point, you fully understand the benefits of eLearning and have reviewed how a switch will impact all key stakeholders. In going through the previous steps, you’ve identified costs, benefits, and potential challenges of making a shift to eLearning. You know that this will be a significant culture change in the company, but have the information to know that it is worth it.

You are now ready to convince the decision-makers in your company – board members, C-level executives, HR directors, or others – that they should be supportive of eLearning and online training initiatives. They may be skeptical at first. They might ask questions like “What is the ROI?” “What standards do you have for training?” or “How much eLearning will we produce?”

You’ll need to answer these questions thoroughly and show them that the investment in eLearning is worth the time and money, and the first step is always to perform a thorough needs assessment by asking stakeholders why they’re resistant to your proposal. It could be that they feel that corporate training should be hands-on, not virtual. Or perhaps they’re trying to save money and they think that a digital program would be cheaper than one with instructor hours.

At this stage, it’s important to further explain your needs assessment findings to stakeholders before continuing with the project. Next, you’ll want to work on developing a compelling business case for your idea. This presentation should highlight how corporate training can reduce turnover and increase productivity by improving team communication for executives and employees. You will also want to focus on how costly it can be if an organization doesn’t have an effective in-house training program.
Include ample statistics highlighting why an effective corporate training program is necessary for attracting top talent and building a productive workforce. Include tangible benefits like lower turnover rate and increased employee retention rates, as well as intangible benefits such as increased customer satisfaction rates and higher profits.

Why eLearning Impacts the Company’s Bottom-Line

At the end of the day, a decision to jump into eLearning will likely be financial. You may be convinced that eLearning is an important culture change within the organization for a variety of reasons, and it is in many ways, but it is likely that your company decision-makers are only interested in the bottom line.

Here are some things to walk through when presenting eLearning to the decision-makers in your company:

1. To start, you want to show them concrete, tangible ways that eLearning will improve their bottom line. This is hard to do with traditional “corporate training” because it often involves costly physical presence and real-time communication with staff. However, eLearning allows for blended learning, which is a combination of face-to-face and online training that lets you stand in front of the group and then lead them through a virtual course or collaborate in real time via text or audio chat. You can also do this without leaving your desk, and these factors can significantly improve the cost.

2. Make sure that your argument is logical and coherent. You’ll need to show them why they need this, and some questions to pre-emptively answer are:
What are the current company pain points?
What will this do to advance the self interest of these specific stakeholders?
How can they measure success?
What is the projected ROI?

3. Get their input on what they want out of it by getting them to answer things like: what topics the course needs to cover, what the best way of presenting information to your learners is (course design), and what should be done when someone misses class.

4. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research: explain why your eLearning approach will be effective at solving these problems: how it can save time, how it is cost effective, and how other companies have seen success with these methods.

It is important to be detailed, clear, and knowledgeable when presenting this information. If you do that, you are likely to receive approval and can get started on implementing your plan!

Enact Your eLearning Plan – Remain Engaged

The best way to create cultural change within your company surrounding eLearning is to remain engaged in the project. You need to ensure that you remain engaged and communicative with your stakeholders as the course of this project unfolds and remain open to criticism and insights from them as well as feedback on how they might be impacted by this change.

Another approach is trying to leverage corporate values. If there’s a chance your project has a chance of being in-line with what your company does, this might be a good way to get buy-in from stakeholders. For instance, if you’re brainstorming how to improve customer service, and it aligns with something your company does already, it can help make your case more compelling for obtaining buy-in from stakeholders.

Wrapping Up

Traditionally, creating a corporate training program was an arduous and costly task, but eLearning has changed the way many companies approach this issue. Despite the benefits, some leadership teams are resistant to changes like this, so you have to convince corporate stakeholders that this is a worthwhile investment in the company.

By fully understanding how eLearning can positively change company culture, knowing how it will affect stakeholders, and then clearly communicating eLearning’s value and ROI to the company, you will be able to effectively engage stakeholders to change their company culture mindset and embrace eLearning.

Action Points

Use the list of advantages that elearning has over traditional face-to-face training as a starting point to overcoming key stakeholder and leadership challenges to your project. Calculate a cost benefit analysis and ROI against each point by comparing them to your current training strategy. This will help you to focus on the estimated financial benefits of making a change and ensure that you are ready to win over any doubters, also gaining you valuable support along the way.

This is the fourth of 8 articles from the eBook eLearning 101 - How To Create The Perfect Curriculum For Your Company.

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This article was first published on eLearning Industry.