Taking Steps Towards An Online Learning Transformation

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Moving With The Times: The Online Learning Transformation

Taking effective steps toward digital learning should be part and parcel of your hospitality business plan. From personal banking and bill-paying, to shopping and dating, our modern lives are increasingly becoming an online affair. With most of us now spending a decent chunk of our day online to perform administrative tasks or stay in touch with friends, it makes sense that adopting online tools for business growth should be the next move.

Actually, if you consider the whole picture, the companies we run or work for have already adopted some digital and online systems in a bid to become connected, paperless and more efficient. From accounting to customer service; it’s pretty much now universally accepted that being 24-hour, international and online is where it’s at when it comes to commerce or service in the 21st century. And when it comes to learning, things are no different. Correspondence courses have long existed, but the digital learning industry is now a leading player when it comes to training your staff and developing their skills. The hospitality industry relies on a mixture of online systems to take bookings, manage shift rotas, deliver payroll services and order supplies – and is increasingly moving toward a digital learning transformation to ensure their businesses deliver great customer experiences through their staff. Essentially the message here is don’t get left behind!

Why Make The Change To Online Learning?

There are a wide range of elearning companies out there offering learning management systems to support hospitality businesses in training their employees. In this day and age, since the pressure to do more with less is a real concern, efficiency and flexibility in this area is key. There are a number of benefits to be had by making the shift to digital learning for your business – and next, we’d like to mention just a few if you’re still on the fence.

First up, most LMS are customisable, meaning that the content for each course you’d like your employees to work through can be tailored to fit your business and zoom in on areas where you think things need the most work. Then, this information or series of courses can be delivered to multiple employees, departments, or even across your whole business. Say you run a hotel, and you’d like to ensure all front of house staff know how to engage with your clients in a professional, but warm and personal manner. To address this, you can build a course to deliver to reception desk employees, porters, wait staff and housekeeping, which they’ll all complete simultaneously. Now say you have five hotels – the course can be completed in multiple countries, in different languages perhaps, in the same month and everyone in your organisation is clear about what kind of general standards you require from them when they engage with customers on your premises. This creates a kind of service branding, and a way for your business to potentially stand out from the crowd. Without a digital learning platform, this kind of standardisation for a critical skill or approach across a number of jobs, in a number of locations could be either difficult to achieve or expensive – and certainly not simultaneous. Plus, without a learning management system, your learning structure certainly won’t be flexible enough to quickly add training for new service areas. The benefits to online learning for the business owner or manager are clear, but there are also many benefits for the end user – the staff member.

Let’s take a look at these benefits. It’s fairly obvious that if you know your job, and if you’re comfortable with different work-related scenarios, then you’ll be happier in it. It reduces the element of surprise (by this we don’t mean the good kind!) which in turn avoids workplace stress. Thorough training allows your hospitality staff flexibility within their work, which leads to a sense of achievement, the ability to serve clients in a positive manner, and prepares them properly for dealing with things smoothly when difficulties arise. This applies to everyone in your organisation. For example, managers regularly have a lot on their plate, and frequent, bite-size training can truly help them deal with everything from interpersonal staff issues, to logistics, to recognising when delegating can be a positive move. Other employees may dislike elements of their job, purely because they don’t possess a good grasp of the task itself. Regular, enjoyable online learning sessions can change and improve situations for your people which left unchecked, can cause dissatisfaction and poor work. It’s obvious what the ramifications for your business are when this happens…

Online learning is generally far more engaging than traditional methods such as seminars or talks too. Hospitality training that is designed with engagement and motivation in mind will always result in higher rates of retention and application. The opportunity to learn online via a mobile app gives your people freedom to learn in their own time or complete courses together at work, and a multi-media approach can be enjoyable, visually attractive and ultimately, memorable. Many elearning companies deliver hospitality training with game-like elements, or develop story-based courses to entertain users while training them.

The transformation to digital learning also means that the elearning courses your company offers can evolve with your business. The hospitality industry is far from static and is also incredibly competitive – to survive you need to incorporate the latest trends, services and standards. By training your workforce online, you can adapt courses, build content libraries that are accessible around the clock, update them to reflect changes you’ve made to your business or offer mini-courses to ensure learning and development happens regularly and easily. Remember, ‘refresher’ courses are just as important as online training designer to foster new skills. These will also add an element of personalisation to the courses you need your employees to follow. And if your folks feel course content is directly applicable to them and their daily responsibilities, course uptake is going to be much higher.

Digital And Real World Integration

Thankfully, making the switch to elearning via a LMS isn’t rocket science and there are a large number of companies out there that offer online hospitality training for your operations. Do your research and choose wisely, making sure both the hardware and software you implement is right for you. If you go with an LMS provider that offers great support and flexibility in the product, then the physical transformation to elearning should be fairly easy. The next part is up to you – and that’s what we’re going to get into next.

Ask yourself a few questions about your hospitality business. What are your business goals? Where are you now, and where would you like to be in the short, medium, and long-term future? Simply purchasing a learning management system is a straightforward first step, but to make it work well for you, your digital transformation needs to involve your whole organisation from the top down. You can’t expect your employees to get to grips with online training resources if their managers, and in the end, the top dog, aren’t actively promoting a culture of online learning and sharing in the results. Online learning can truly change the culture of a company, shifting from a traditional, authoritarian style of leadership, to a more inclusive, empowering workplace culture that generally achieves much better results. Thanks to the widespread uptake of social media, your staff are likely already au fait with a culture of information sharing, collaborative effort and receiving rewards of some kind from these activities. If you introduce collective online training into your hotel, restaurant or other hospitality provider from the top down, you’ll reap the rewards too. Championing this new way of learning through your own engagement and the engagement of your managerial and HR people from the get-go will really drive the transformation to digital learning for your enterprise.

A Culture Of Learning

What makes a successful digital learning transformation is really down to shifting workplace behaviours firmly into the realm of a culture of learning. Knowledge is power, right? Your LMS system is a crucial tool to disseminate skills and create training opportunity. But, to facilitate quality online training through LMS that holds real value for your staff, your business and your customers, requires linking elearning programs and courses with the way your workplace learns already, how it implements the training on the daily and how achievements within learning are rewarded and continually encouraged. Discovery, sharing and mutual support across every sector of your operations go hand-in-hand with a successful elearning transformation. Course building will continually add to the data bank your company can use, and great communication from your higher management strata will help every employee find benefit in their hospitality training. Establishing learning as fundamental to workflow will make the jump to digital learning successful and long-lasting. You need to foster a company-wide growth mindset, and then regularly dispense all the multiple resources that elearning can provide.

So really, when it comes down to incorporating online training, your offline skills are paramount. Step one is to choose a LMS that offers the best fit for your operations, ensuring it has enough flexibility to grow with your business plans. Then, as the head of the company, encourage a total move toward an environment of frequent, supported and flexible training for every person in your workplace; and don’t forget that includes you!