In this guest post, Seema Hassan, Customer Support Manager at Charity Digital, explores the benefits that online training in the workplace could bring to your charity. In recent years, digital technology has become more readily available to charities, thanks to programmes like our own Charity Digital Exchange. Used properly, new software packages can make organisations more efficient in their day-to-day work, but only if people are comfortable using them. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, especially as programs are updated so regularly. So then, training is needed. To this end, many organisations are turning to web-based training to fulfil their employee development needs. Benefits of online training Online training is a more flexible option than face-to-face training. It allows people to train wherever they are, saving on travel costs and time, while it also means people can train at their own speed and at a time that’s most useful for them. As well as that, it tends to be cheaper than face-to-face training. Even if your organisation operates quite remotely, you can still access online training. You save money on travel, and on hiring someone to train the individual, because now you can use web-based manuals and pages that you can just sit down and read through. If I had to do some sort of training outside of my core hours in the old-fashioned way (where you’ve got to go and sit through a lecture), I wouldn’t be able to do it because I have children to look after, so it’s not always possible. But by training online, I can work around my other responsibilities and still benefit from it, even out of hours. So in that way, training really has changed for the better. Combining online and on-the-job training Online training also makes it possible to train employees within their own working environment. Here, people can use the programs they’re training on to carry out their own specific role. This works particularly well, as it allows people to use the key skills they pick up immediately, helping them to reinforce what they learn. By doing it like that, you’re not taking a chunk out of someone’s working day; you’re learning and applying it at the same time, which means it’s time spent well, in my opinion. It’s less of a time commitment than having to travel miles to access training. Benefits of on-the-job training… On-the-job training allows employees to practice under the supervision of more experienced staff. It means that they’ll gain more confidence in their work as they have a trainer who can help them and give feedback immediately. Additionally, worker training within the company means that the employee is actually working as they are learning. From a financing perspective, it’s a very cost-effective method of imparting skills and knowledge that are specific to the company’s needs. As well as that, it allows new trainees to integrate far quicker and more easily than if they were learning similar skills externally, where they aren’t necessarily around their co-workers. …and the potential drawbacks. One of the main reasons for on-the-job training not being as effective as it should be is a lack of ability in the actual teaching. It’s not enough that the person passing on their knowledge is proficient in what they do. The oft-forgotten fact is that teaching and mentoring are skills in themselves for which people need to be trained. If they aren’t, the training delivered is often piecemeal, not planned sufficiently or is poorly delivered. So to get around this, proper planning is essential. And if there aren’t the skills in-house to teach others, then online training is a decent alternative. Overall At Charity Digital, the way that we train staff is very web-based. If you looked at training in the past, you’d have had to go to another building and sit down with a teacher, but now that’s not the case. Now, people can do it on their own, in their own time, with their own computer and without anyone else being present. As technology continues to improve and companies become more dispersed, employee development has had to evolve to be more flexible for individuals. The good news is that now, undertaking training in such a manner means that it’s easier to carry out flexibly, while also being more cost-effective for the organisation.