Over my roughly three decades of designing and supporting employee training programs in various industries, I’ve talked to thousands of people who invest in on-the-job training—and hundreds more who don’t. If you’re one of the holdouts, don’t worry. I’ve addressed five of the most common training challenges here.
I don’t have time for professional development.
When your to-do list is longer than your desk, making time to learn new job skills can seem nearly impossible. Thanks to technology, though, employee training is now convenient and easy. Gone are the days when you had to sacrifice an entire day to a classroom or a week to a conference to learn about the latest innovations in your field. Today, thousands of professional development classes—and Nan McKay certifications—are available online.
This means you can train at your convenience, without sacrificing your schedule and without the added travel time. Those of us who design professional development training curricula know that you’re busy, so we break up online courses into short sections that you can watch when you have time. (Some are only a couple of minutes long.) How many times have you found yourself with ten minutes to spare before a meeting? It’s not enough time to start a project, but it’s definitely enough time to watch a video. Before you know it, you’ll have strung together enough training videos—we call them modules—to finish an entire course, adding another valuable skill to your résumé.
I can't afford training.
With a dynamic industry like housing, it’s important to ensure that your organization—and your staff—remain current and compliant with changing regulations, so ongoing job training is a must. Plus, research has found that organizations that do not offer employee training have a more difficult time retaining talent. What’s more, the cost of hiring and onboarding a new employee is considerably greater than training an existing staff member. Also, your trained employees can turn around and train others within your organization, resulting in additional training without additional cost. The best way to plan for the expense is to make it an essential part of your annual budget process. Fortunately, online training is budget-friendly, and eliminates training-related travel expenses to boot. It’s a great option for cash-strapped organizations. Pro tip: Many online training providers offer subscription services that come with unlimited classes, multiple user seats, and even substantial discounts.
I don't know where to start.
With so many professional development training options to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow them down. An easy way to choose what to focus on is to read about trends in your industry and pick a course that addresses a topic that interests you. Or think about where you want to go in your career, and take a few classes that are relevant to the promotion you’re hoping to secure. Technology can be a help here, too. Many learning management systems, which store online course catalogs and track your training, can recommend courses based on your particular interests, job role, or training history. Simply enter the information into the platform to receive recommendations that are tailored just for you.
I’m not convinced professional development training is a good use of my time.
If it’s been more than a year since you left school, there have likely been many developments in your industry and your profession that merit your attention. Besides ensuring that you won’t lag behind your peers, ongoing job training encourages independence and initiative—and can trigger creative ideas that can help you work smarter, serve tenants better, or operate more efficiently.
I’m not convinced that online training is effective.
Numerous studies have shown that people recall pictures more easily than they remember words. Indeed, a phenomenon known as the picture superiority effect showed that people remembered only 10 percent of the information they read, versus 65 percent of the information they saw that was paired with images or video. That’s six times greater recall! Online training, which uses a combination of images and words, is not only highly effective, but you can also rewind and re-watch various concepts until they sink in, or in many times participate in additional interactive exercises designed to help you apply what you’ve learned. Plus, there’s no added distraction from other students asking questions or nudging the instructor off topic. Bottom line: If you’re tight on time or budget and staying abreast of the latest developments in your industry and your profession is important to you and your organization, online training might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
About the Author
Dan Segaline specializes in helping housing professionals stay up to date with the latest trends and training that matter most to their organization. A customer success specialist for HTVN, the online training division of HAI Group—Nan McKay’s exclusive online training provider—Dan brings technical training and library and data services to thousands of affordable housing industry professionals. Prior to joining HAI Group, Dan spent 20 years designing and supporting the technical training library at Bristol Myers-Squibb.