This post has been updated on October 23 2018.
Workplace learning and training programs have come a long way since the cubicle was a new thing. The transfer of knowledge now happens inside and outside of office walls. Employees learn new things from professional trainers in face-to-face courses, from professional instructional designers in online courses, from their managers, and also from each other.
More often than not, workplace learning involves some sort of technology. By technology I mean mostly learning management systems for business organizations. The LMS market is booming, as more and more business organizations realize the importance of having a centralized system for as much learning that happens in the workspace as possible.
But despite the growing presence of LMSs in the organizational training world, there are still people who don't get how these systems work and how they can help their businesses.
Common LMS misconceptions
The next paragraphs will present five of the most common LMS misconceptions and the real facts that should be known and considered when deciding upon using such systems.
1. There's no use of getting an LMS
New employees will learn their way around the company from the ones that already work there and an enthusiastic employee will learn everything about his/her job in any possible way. So why bother with an LMS?
Unless you're a start-up with a still-forming organizational culture, this approach is bound to cause problems sooner or later. Sooner, rather than later. Yes, a lot of the learning happens through on-the-job experiences and social interactivity, but that doesn't mean an LMS is useless.
In fact, a corporate LMS can save you a lot of time and headaches by storing all learning materials of the company in one centralized repository. Also, it's really easy to make changes in an LMS, thus ensuring that all learning materials are always up-to-date with the newest changes of your industry.
An LMS will solve all the training problems
You compared some offers from a few vendors and have decided upon the best option for your company: it promises a lot of features for a decent price. Now all you have to do is to put everything in place and your job is done, right?
If only things were that easy... Each company wants to cover different organizational learning needs with an LMS, so customization is not only a good a idea, but a mandatory one. From technical issues to adapting and adding new and relevant training content, managing an LMS is not a fire-and-forget activity. Someone (or better yet, a team) has to oversee that the system is always running at full capacity.
Besides, an LMS is just one part of a sound organizational training program. If it's built around poor content or the instructor doesn't really connect with the employees, the mere existence of an LMS will not solve any training problem.
Any employee can handle an LMS
This is partly true, I’ll give you that. A lot of — although not all — learning management systems have intuitive user interfaces and a set of basic features that are easy to use and don’t require advanced technical knowledge. Any employee can handle an LMS and be an instructor just like anyone can learn how to drive a car.
But do you think all drivers can handle a racecar? Probably not. And this is why an instructional designer can make or break the success of a training program. A great instructor will not only know all there is to know about your industry and your company, but will also have organizational and pedagogical skills.
An employee who was hired in the IT department may lack some soft skills necessary for supporting the learning process of other colleagues. And even if that isn’t the case, that employee must take the responsibility of the LMS on top of the tasks that were he/she was hired for. So let your employees do what they do best and be careful when selecting the course instructor: you want the racecar driver instead of the simple driver.
An LMS is not a safe place when it comes to data
Corporate data is usually synonym with sensitive data. Some details about employees, providers and clients are best to be kept in a safe place, away from curious eyeballs.
Any website can be hacked and an online LMS makes no exception. And sometimes the users themselves can cause virus infections and/or data loss by accessing the LMS through untrusted connections.
Well, a top-notch learning management system can prevent all these problems in no time. Automatic back-ups ensure that all changes are saved instantly, while settings of different access levels for users will control how much and what type of information is available for each stakeholder. Also password protection and a few whitelisted internet connections offer a great control over the accessibility of your LMS. All these and more security settings can make a learning management system a safe place for company data.
An LMS can’t really affect employee turnover
Employees come and go to and from a company for a million different reasons. How could an LMS even be considered as a factor in employee turnover?
Despite all the data and analytics an LMS can manage, it is still challenging to provide crystal clear ROI and how it affects the entire business. This happens because employees are unique complex individuals and there are some really hard to measure aspects about them.
But the lack of clear figures doesn’t mean the use of a learning management system can’t really affect employee turnover. A great LMS supports a better engagement rate for company training, which in turn leads to higher retention rates. Add to this the mobility factor, and you’re on tracks of improving the entire company culture. Learning and development opportunities in a company are turning into an important factor of employee attraction and retention.
And those were the most common misconceptions about learning management systems and the truth behind each of them. What else would you add to this list? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.