HR and E-Learning

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If you know someone in HR on have them on a committee, have you ever heard these statements? (or if you are in HR or HRIS, said them yourself)

  • “What is this e-learning thing?”
  • “A LMS? Oh, let’s just go with XXX (usually most well-known)”
  • “We have to get one that works with our HRIS platform”
  • “I work in HR, I do not build courses”  OR “I work in HRIS and I have to build courses?”
  • “Someone in HR has to be on the committee”
  • “As the XX (senior exec) of HR, I must have final say for XXX (whatever e-learning item or items) since it will impact employees”
  • “I’ll just sign it” (and the contract is not itemized)

And what are the challenges that face HR and/or HRIS when it comes to e-learning.  Some of them are the same as those who are new to the space.  When it comes to LMSs – oh, that is a whole other story.

  • Being unfamiliar with LMS/Learning Platforms and selecting the most well known

This happens a lot with folks in general (not just HR) it is one of the biggest issues facing our industry.  The result?  People get unhappy and then think every system is like that – not true, mind you.

  • Picking a LMS vendor who says their system interfaces/integrates with your HRIS platform

Downside?  Nearly every LMS vendor will state this.  Honestly, the majority can thanks to APIs.  That said there are plenty including some big time ones who have had challenges or issues in the past.

  • If the HR department oversees training that is instructor based only, some in HR are not fans nor want to move to e-learning.

Others in HR who do move or are forced to (not universal) follow the same approach (ILT) when it comes to courses – i.e. linear and heavy PowerPoint. Result? Poor design and worse, the learners who are required to take the courses (mandatory) never return.  I don’t blame them, because linear stinks.

  • Folks in HR who will not move to e-learning, even if the higher ups (i.e. CEO) are fans/supporters of it.

Data supports success in e-learning over ILT, but hey there are people who still use VCRs (sorry, VHS is never returning – but hey, you can get a tape for less than a buck!)

There are other challenges, but these tend to be the higher tier.  I will add that if your HR person (regardless of level) provides only employee training, and the company is going to provide B2B online learning, it is a recipe for disaster.

My Friends

I have a lot of HR and HRIS friends and so this is not about zinging HR in any aspect, rather it is bringing about and recognizing issues that will impact your LMS, authoring tool or whatever e-learning components (when HR is involved).

As mentioned in other posts, I am a believer that people in HR who provide training, see training (learning) in a different light and approach than those who provide training and work in a training department. 

Thus, the idea that HR understands all the nuances of training effectively, just doesn’t exist. I mean do they know Gagne? What about ADDIE?  Are they experts in understanding what makes training successful versus failure?

I know many HR departments that focus only on employee training, and if the company is also going to provide B2B/B2C e-learning (and in many cases is already doing it with ILT – thus blended), the reality is employee training (learning) is not the same.  That is why, you usually see a training department oversee B2B/B2C and HR oversee employee.

Compliance Training

Recently a few readers sent me e-mails and let me know that their HR person (specifically the person running the dept.) stated that the only training for e-learning would be compliance training and nothing else.

Of course it is mandatory for all employees.

I can already tell you this will fail in so many ways.

Here is why:

  • Mandatory e-learning is similar in the ILT training – it forces people to take courses and in some cases, the employees are not enthralled to begin with in taking any course regardless of output.
  • Compliance courses (online) tend to be really boring and linear with lockdowns or timers.  Thus the learner will wait to the last minute (in many cases) to take the courses.  Their goal?  To go through it as fast as possible and never to return.

When they never return – it sets up the statement of proof that e-learning does not work.  I mean look, they are not coming back to the course – failure.  Again, total nonsense.

If the course is dudsville, who would want to come back? Worse, if you are all about linear without a TOC or the opportunity for people to move around to areas of real focus, then you are not doing what WBT was designed for and is the most effective manner.

I should note that I have heard that statement with training execs, CLOs too.  It is not just the content here, it is the way the course was built. 

Using PowerPoint as your authoring tool, is the same as creating an ILT course since many people use PowerPoint, which BTW, is a presentation tool (and sold as such).

  •  Compliance content in general is boring and tedious. I have seen huge stacks of paper with writing on it that no one would ever want to read, but have to and then sign that they read it.  This is nothing more than covering your butt, in case something goes wrong.  I hate to be blunt about it, but this is reality.

The same approach follows with some regulatory online courses – take it, complete it, sign that you did.  The focus thus isn’t about the learner learning, rather it is about the company/organization covering themselves in case of lawsuits or potential regulatory fines.

HRIS world

I rarely find a LMS vendor who says that they do not support or do not have experience integrating with HRIS system ABC.  So how do you know if it is a fact or not?  An easy way to do it, is to ask for a list of companies who have had their HRIS platform (specifically yours) with the vendor’s LMS.

Never just take the “recommended ones”.  Then, contact the companies, speak to whoever was involved at that level for the HRIS interface and ask them.   You may want to call them, since some people may be reluctant to say it in e-mail – but ideally e-mail is the best.

Ask questions such as:

  • Did they (LMS vendor) implement it in the timeline you stated to them?
  • Did you face any issues or challenges with the LMS vendor when it came to interfacing with the HRIS platform?
  • Did the LMS vendor charge additional fees beyond what they scoped to you and if yes, what were those fees associated with – and the fees themselves?
  • Did it work the first time out and subsequently or did the LMS vendor have to come back and do additional fixes?  If yes, did they charge you for those fixes?

Now for the LMS vendor themselves.  If they decline to give you those names – then decline to do business with them. 

You are not asking for the Mona Lisa to have in your house here, you are requesting some clients that have the same HRIS platform as you do.  Vendors who balk never seem to have an issue showing or telling you a list of their clients in general (done for marketing purposes BTW).

If the LMS vendor has NEVER interfaced/integrated that specific HRIS platform, I would be leery, unless it is a totally brand new HRIS platform on the market.

I have been quite surprised on the number of vendors who have never heard of Workday, which is taking over the HRIS market (at least in my experience).

If they have to ask you what is Workday – that should be a clear sign – and not a good one.  Their role  when it comes to interfacing with HRIS platforms are to stay current with who is out there, of course there are exceptions as aforementioned with brand new ones hitting the market.

You want your LMS vendor to be an expert.  If they can’t do due diligence and know who are the big players in the space, then why would you want to have them as your vendor of choice?

APIs have been the big game changers when it comes to integrating/interfacing with payroll systems, HRIS platforms and other HR related plaforms/systems.  Some vendors have “connectors” already in their systems for some of the biggest names in the market.

The plus for you?  Minimal cost and in many cases, no cost to do it, since they are using the API.  If a vendor wants to charge you 10K or more for an API integration, that IMO is too much.  I mean this isn’t building the Gaza Pyramids here.

Bottom Line

HR is useful for many, many things.  They are the people who have a voice and are useful in any company.  But the assumption that many of these folks can hit the ground running when it comes to e-learning isn’t the case.

As with anyone, due diligence must come into play.  If you are in HR, you must take the time to understand the basics of e-learning. You must be aware of the market and not the usual five or six people are aware of and focus upon. (BTW, this should be universal to anyone who is seeking a LMS).

If you have to build compliance courses, you may want to look at 3rd party content providers who already have compliance courses available for sell.

emtrain does an outstanding job when it comes to compliance courses (already built).  Skillsoft is fine, but be aware that you do not have to buy the entire bundle, you can pick and choose (they never seem to mention that). There are other vendors out there as well, when it comes to compliance pre-built courses (and yes, some do stink).

If that isn’t the option, and you have to use PowerPoint, then please, oh please, do not build it as though it is similar to having an ILT presentation.  When it comes to PowerPoint as an authoring tool, then go with a vendor who maximizes its usage.

I recommend iSpring Pro over Articulate Studio any day of the week and it is cheaper.

The point to all this, is you have options and you have choices.

Something your learners may not have.

Especially, if the goal isn’t really training.

But covering your bases.

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