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Is E-Learning The Answer?


James Cleary, Chief Executive Officer of the ICT Institute, looks at the pros and cons of online training options, and why a ”blended“ approach is the way forward.


This question has been asked time and again by our team, while developing our strategy for delivering meaningful training to cleaners and janitors across the globe. The answer was: yes and no. It’s true that the digital world has developed at a lightening pace over the past few years, and we all feel as though we should be harnessing the power of the internet to streamline our businesses, but we need to be cautious. Training should be about the person and improving that person’s understanding of their role and what is expected of them. Interaction with those on the frontline of service delivery is key to this, and to getting the best performance from our most valuable asset: our workforce.


Some people might suggest that in the cleaning industry there are too many barriers to online training, such as access to computers, a fear of technology, labour intensive tasks not suited to online training, poor literacy, and so the list continues. That said, the internet and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, offer a low cost, high quality medium for the delivery of a consistent training message to a large number of people over wide geographical regions –


36 | TRAINING & EDUCATION


a major problem for the cleaning industry in the past.


Online training offers an opportunity for businesses to develop another tool to add to their overall training programme, and to deploy this material to their entire workforce with the click of a mouse. The technology can incorporate quizzes to verify the learning, as well as maintaining all the training records in one central location online. Other advantages include automatic reminders to ensure employees complete all the necessary training on time, and employees can review their own record and meet goals set down by management. Some companies even use these systems to communicate with their employees through video messages, the advantage being that the communication is recorded on the employees file and HR managers can track who have seen the message.


These advantages cannot be ignored; the question is, what is the best approach? I have been delivering training to cleaners for over 15 years, and recently I have been using e-learning materials to gain an understanding of how to incorporate this fantastic resource for the cleaning industry. In my experience, caution should be exercised; jumping


completely into online training can be too much, too quick. You must bear in mind that not all training for the cleaning industry can be delivered through e-learning or video – some training needs to be demonstrated in person, such as skills training in floorcare tasks. I also believe that, in an industry that is so people- orientated, training offers a great way for managers and supervisors to interact on a personal basis with their frontline employees, getting feedback on (and a thorough understanding of) the challenges they face.


This is why I believe that the best solution is a “blended” approach. E-learning can be a great tool to incorporate into a training plan to achieve this solution, using online resources to deliver communication, customer service, health & safety and skills theory training, while continuing to use traditional instructor-led, face-to- face training for practical skills and some assessments. This allows companies to deploy training resources in a much more cost- effective manner, while at the same time taking advantage of the technology available to help deliver a more consistent cleaning service to their clients.


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