· Features

Boosting staff efficiency through e-learning

As the economy makes a slow recovery, businesses, and in particular small businesses, have numerous choices to make about how they prioritise their budgets. According to the Towards Maturity Benchmark Study, training budgets have not fallen as much as feared in the last two years but there has still been a decrease in the budgets of more than half of public sector organisations whereas 34% of private sector organisations report an increase. With employers needing to find ways which give them the best return against their investment, training solutions need to be as flexible and impactful as possible.

With 78% of organisations now using some form of e-learning, and more than half planning to increase their use in the next 12 months, businesses clearly believe learning technologies will help them respond to changing business conditions. Organisations already making the most of learning technologies report significant benefits from this type of learning, including cost savings, time saving and an increase in the volume of learning delivered.

In particular, businesses talk about the flexibility of e-learning, ease of access and how it can reduce the amount of time employees spend away from their day-to-day work. With recent learndirect research highlighting that 58% of people in work feel 'trapped' in their current role due to a lack of training, this all helps to improve staff efficiency and motivation. Staff are able to gain qualifications which increases their morale, they gain the ability to implement improved procedures and become faster at rolling out new IT applications.

Staff are able to respond quicker to business demands and improvements are seen in customer satisfaction. 77% of businesses also believe using different learning technologies will help them respond faster to changing business conditions.

The types of skills needed vary from business to business, but the skills seeing the biggest increase through the use of e-learning in the last two years include leadership and management, customer service and softer skills such as communications, team working and problem solving. Interestingly, the number of organisations using e-learning to provide their staff with IT skills has fallen. With 30% still noting poor IT skills are a significant barrier to further implementation of learning technologies, this is something to watch.

A business still reaping the benefits of improved IT skills through e-learning is Spectrum Plastics, a print finishing company based in Stockport. Their investment in staff training through learndirect has paid off. The improved IT skills of their staff have meant they've been able to adopt new procedures which have improved efficiency and other members of staff are now much better at communicating with customers via email.

Managing Director Kath Doran said: "The main benefit has been the awareness it has given the individual of their importance to the company. I've been very pleased with the effect that learndirect has had both on our efficiency as a company and staff morale and as a result, I plan to put more employees on training courses, including myself."

With the economic climate making a slow recovery and small businesses struggling to survive in a tough marketplace, it's more important than ever for them to embrace

Colin McDonald, head of Learning, Learndirect