If you’re wishing your employee training program was a little more modern, a little more flexible, and perhaps even a little less costly, you’re not alone. With remote work becoming the new normal, and learning and development (L&D) becoming a critical priority to close ever-widening employee skills gaps, businesses everywhere are learning that the old approach of herding everyone together into a classroom for training doesn’t cut it anymore.
Webinar training is the logical next step. Done through a webinar platform or a learning management system (LMS) with video conferencing capabilities, webinar training replicates the classroom experience in a digital environment. There are obvious benefits to this over the traditional classroom: Instructors can deliver training to workers wherever they are, and workers can access recordings of webinar training sessions whenever they need to.
There are other benefits as well. But there are also drawbacks to webinar training you need to be aware of before you fully invest in this method.
To help you understand if webinar training is the right approach for your business, here are four pros and four cons of webinar training. Check out the infographic below for a quick summary, then continue down for more details.
Gone are the days when all of your employees were under one roof. In a GetApp survey of full-time employees in the U.S. (view the survey methodology below), 36% of respondents said they work remotely at least once a week, and a full 58% reported working remotely at least once a month.
While having a flexible remote work policy makes it easier for companies to attract and retain talent, it does present a training challenge. How do you reach all of your employees for important training sessions when they’re spread around the city, the country, or the world?
Webinar training allows companies to cross this divide easily. Workers can register and watch webinars on their computer, wherever they are, for a completely synchronous learning event.
In 2020, businesses spent an average of over $1,100 dollars per learner on training. The traditional method of flying workers to one location, while paying for food, accommodations, and instructors, has always been expensive. Creating full-fledged e-learning courses, and implementing the technology to administer them, often carries a hefty price tag of its own.
Webinar training gives you the benefits of both methods at a fraction of the cost. Not having to pay to bring people together or create e-learning from scratch, your business just needs webinar software, a presenter, and some presentation materials to get off the ground.
Webinar training offers flexibility for both instructors and learners. Instead of a live webinar, instructors can opt to do prerecorded webinars (if the platform allows for it). This gives them a chance to polish their lesson and fix any mistakes at the cost of losing a chance to interact with learners and answer questions.
Similarly, if a worker can’t attend a webinar training session when it’s broadcast, they can always watch a recording of it at a later time. Add in the fact that learners can consume webinar training on whatever device they prefer (computer, tablet, or phone), wherever they are in the world, and you’re looking at an extremely flexible method for delivering employee training.
Social learning—a training methodology that focuses heavily on leveraging personal networks and mentorship programs to connect workers with knowledgeable subject matter experts (SMEs)—has become all the rage. Over the last three years, the percentage of L&D professionals planning to increase their investment in social learning has grown by double-digits (full research available to Gartner clients).
Instead of being confined to the SMEs in your company or in your local area with traditional training methods, webinar training gives you the platform to leverage SMEs from anywhere. If they’re willing and available, you can have any SME lead a webinar training, which is a big boost for any social learning initiative.
Things can and do go wrong during a live webinar training session. Should your internet cut out, your training materials stop cooperating, or your microphone simply not want to connect, you can’t get that time back with participants. These snafus are made even worse if it's a recorded webinar intended to be used later.
Prerecording your webinar session gives you some room for error, but it’s important to ensure that the webinar tool you purchase is reliable, compatible with multiple devices and operating systems, and comes with helpful vendor support.
As opposed to the LMS experience, where companies can put up different training types and learners can find the type that works best for their needs, the webinar format is one-size-fits-all. If a webinar attendee doesn’t do well in that type of digital classroom environment, they won’t be as engaged and won’t retain as much information.
Where possible, companies should aim to reformat webinar training sessions into different formats to better engage all of their workers (e.g., turning webinar presentation materials into a reference slide deck).
How effective are your webinar training sessions, really? Because most webinar platforms only give you basic metrics like attendee sign-ups and peak viewership, it can be difficult to tell if your employee training is resonating with your audience.
Using learning surveys, or even a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system, can supplement your webinar data and give you better insight into what’s working and what’s not. Look for platforms that have this functionality.
If there’s one area where webinar training really can’t compete with the classroom experience or a proper e-learning course, it’s the ability for learners to interact with the training material. In a live webinar environment, learners often only have the ability to ask questions, and in a recording, they simply sit there and watch.
Whiteboard software platforms with webinar capabilities can give instructors and learners more tools to collaborate and interact with the material. Seek these systems out if you want to make webinar training more interactive, or better, complement your webinar training with more interactive learning formats (games, simulations, assessments, etc.).
Going from traditional training methods to training webinars is always a risky leap. It requires investing in new software, new training content, and, most importantly, complete organizational buy-in.
If your company thinks the benefits of webinar training outweigh the potential pitfalls, we can help you find the right webinar training software for your needs and budget.
GetApp Remote Work Surveys, November 2019.
The remote work survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp in November, 2019, among 912 respondents who reported full-time employment in the United States. A follow-up survey was conducted in November, 2019 among 394 respondents who reported full-time employment in the United States, 140 of whom reported not working remotely on a regular basis.