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E-Learning Offers Employee Performance Boost

While many companies adopt E-learning programs because of their rapid ROI the technology can also be a boon to employee performance.

InformationWeek Staff

April 12, 2002

2 Min Read

While many companies adopt E-learning programs because of their rapid ROI--E-learning implementations provide immediate savings by eliminating hefty travel costs and instructor fees--the technology can also be a boon to employee performance.

The speed of business no longer allows for training to be structured in multi-day, off-site courses scheduled at the convenience of instructors, students, and classroom facilities. With E-learning, companies can bring their employees up to speed as soon as information changes. "Organizations that spin the fastest survive," says Elliot Masie, director of the Masie Group, an E-learning think tank. "You've got to be nimble and flexible." Yet if companies don't offer workers the correct training, they may never reach their true potential.

At Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., the $19.4 billion a year pharmaceutical company in New York, corporate training is evolving into performance support. "I don't see them as courses, I see it as a knowledge resource," says Steve Teal, director of E-learning. "You work with a manager, find your deficiencies, and go online for the tools to improve."

The results can be quantifiable. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A Inc. works with more than 88,000 people in 8,000 Toyota and Lexus dealerships. "It costs our dealers money to send employees out the door for training, but they also face lost productivity in terms of selling and fixing cars when they aren't there," says Rick Taniguchi, associate dean of E-learning at the University of Toyota, the training division of the Torrence, Calif., subsidiary of Toyota Motor. Shifting E-learning development in-house and streamlining training into one system will save the company an estimated $5.7 million over a five-year period, but the soft savings are greater: Taniguchi expects an additional $6.2 million in savings from improved worker productivity.

The payoff isn't automatic, though, as some companies have learned. Just picking the right vendor from the fragmented market of E-learning systems vendors can be an ordeal.

Plus, there's the challenge of figuring out when E-learning works, and when knowledge is better gained in conventional ways. That's why most companies still blend instructor-led, live online, and self-paced learning. Says Teal: "At the end of the long day, it's much easier to read a manual with a glass of wine in the backyard."

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