So, your employees have been trained. They’ve completed their learning online, at their own pace, without compromising work. This online model saved your company both expenses arising out of classroom training, and lost time incurred from being away from work during training. This is a great start!
However, it’s not the end. What happens when someone forgets something or feels stuck with a certain process? Is training alone sufficient for performing their jobs well? Probably not! Post training, providing employees with a support cushion to help them reference and remember key aspects of the training will ensure greater efficiency at work.
This is where performance support tools (PST) come to the rescue. These are job aids that help employees learn at their specific point of need.
Performance support is any learning modality or resource material that can be accessed and applied at the time of need. In the workplace, PST’s help employees solve problems immediately. Usually embedded into the employees’ workflow, PSTs can also be standalone information assets to support and guide employees through the work process.
Effective performance support gives employees access to information to apply a skill, solve a problem or understand how to adapt to a new practice related to their performance. It only requires a short amount of time for the individual to refer to the materials needed to get their work done. While traditional training focuses on learning a new skill or knowledge, the goal of performance support is to accomplish a specific task. For example, how to use a new sales software or what compliance regulations must be followed during a process. Remember, the main objective of performance support tools is, to deliver learning at the moment of need. In other words, they’re your new-age sticky notes.
Such tools are also used extensively in the consumer marketplace. Corporations use them as tools in marketing communications for educating consumers about products and delivering relevant information to empower informed purchasing decisions.
Outside the workplace, performance support is also a part of our daily lives as we seek immediate information, like ‘how to swaddle a baby’ or ‘what the 404 error on the laptop means’ or ‘how to choose an insurance policy’ – which is usually obtained from Google searches and YouTube videos.
How They Help
With PSTs, users can perform tasks without external help. This saves time for the more experienced workers who often need to train the less experienced ones. It’s an informal learning format that focuses on quick access to information necessary for task completion. They are an effective way to learn about upgrades, new systems, or when something is being introduced into the workflow or process.
Myriad in Variety
Prior to the digital age, PSTs were referred to as job-aids such as data/ workflow sheets, sticky note reminders, paper-based quick references, etc. The modern day avatar of these tools has taken a more technological form that makes on-the-spot information available at the click of a button. What is even better is that PSTs can be made available for access across multiple devices and platforms.
When employees are seeking on-the-job support they want it to be short and quick, catering to their need at that moment. Videos are effective tools towards achieving this purpose. Employing the concept of micro learning, videos can deliver precise and relevant information in a short time span. Using appealing visuals and background music to demonstrate a process or procedure, videos can be very powerful.
Videos are especially useful when companies introduce something new. It is for this reason that Health Net has decided to create video-based performance support tools for their employees, rolling out its new online software ‘Insure Advantage,’ to manage the selling of their health insurance plans.
Monarch Media collaborated with their team to understand the new software and has created a library of video tutorials for Health Net brokers.
These video training modules touch upon various aspects of the software that brokers need to understand well in order to maximize their sales efficiency. They include features such as – how to generate a proposal; how to create/ modify a quote; how to complete a census, etc. Each module is about 3-4 minutes long containing a screencast and simple graphics (e.g., arrows, circles) illustrating key features, menu items, or actions. They also include voiceover narration, closed captioning, and other interactions that make learning more retentive. Not only do they demonstrate key actions, but also answer common questions as part of the module.
These graphically appealing modules are effective broker-education tools with simple and memorable video explanation. The videos are short and crisp with interesting visuals, laying out each step of the process clearly with an appealing background score.
Mobile Apps/ iPad Apps
Making learning support tools available to employees on their mobile phone or tablet is the perfect example of just-in-time learning.
Beyond just mobile apps, downloadable text and video content, created to be compatible on mobile devices and tablets, becomes very useful when employees are in the field.
When Elsevier’s Health Sciences Division realized that there was a more cost-effective solution to the expensive in person training conferences organized for their sales reps, they turned to Monarch Media for help. Monarch designed a flexible hybrid model adding online trainings designed to educate sales reps on new products.
To further enhance their learning, Monarch went on to create mobile-friendly fact sheets to serve as job-aids in the field. These fact sheets contained information about the various new products and their features; their competitive advantage in the market; and additional strategic information of value.
As part of their effort to supply customers with useful information, Dow Chemical needed to educate their sales reps in the field on how to diagnose wheat crop diseases and recommend appropriate treatments to farmers. Monarch once again assisted, creating a mobile learning solution for Dow, which contained 3D diagrams and images of various wheat crop diseases, identification features and appropriate treatments. Dow’s diverse global sales rep community used this application on their Blackberry phones and iPads.
Incorporating animation into your eLearning is a great way to break the monotony of textual content. Animated eLearning is primarily comprised of text, still photography, illustrations, graphical elements and audio effects. Including a recorded voiceover, musical soundtrack and sound effects, when appropriate, can further enhance the learnability and memorability of video content.
When the Affordable Care Act was passed, Health Net turned to Monarch Media to educate their existing and potential customers. With a goal of explaining details of the Act and how it applied to Health Net’s insurance product line, Monarch worked collaboratively with the Health Net team to create videos, both in English and Spanish, aligned with Health Net’s brand and style guidelines. These videos heavily relied on animation and graphics to explain the Act and Health Net’s insurance policies.
Additional videos use whiteboard animations to describe health plan costs; how coverage works; how to choose a plan and enrollment times. Check out this link and this one to see why these videos are such a success. This style of presenting audio-visual content builds suspense in the mind’s eye of the learner. These animations also bring out the lighter side of the content making learning a fun exercise, while improving recall capacity.
PDFs/ Interactive PDFs
What benefit is a course that doesn’t make it convenient for learners to go back and reference content? When learners are stuck trying to remember something, eLearning creators should be able to support such moments of need. This support comes in the form of downloadable references like PDFs, containing information in a succinct form, which can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device.
When the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) approached Monarch Media to create eLearning on Market Transformation for their employees, using the route of PSTs was what Monarch decided was the best.
The Markets department of WWF works with businesses and industries to improve the production of commodities by reducing its impact on world ecology. Monarch created an eLearning course supplying background and context to onboard new employees seamlessly, making complex concepts understandable and relatable.
The course includes modules on topics such as Market and Theory; Priority Commodities; Negative impacts of production; and Strategies. With an aim to offer further support during and after the course, learners are provided with more than 20 downloadable PDFs. They include information on areas of fishing, forestry, and sustainable development, in a single page with concise information, stripped of context and story. The PDFs contain links to WWFs partner organizations, providing further information to learners.
Take the boredom out of plain text PDFs; make them interactive by embedding video and graphics. They are an ideal format to create tips, checklists, factsheets, and procedure and process documentation.
Webinars/ Recorded webinars
Performance support can also be offered to learners through live and recorded webinars. A webinar, the web version of a seminar or conference, eliminates the need for attendance at a specific physical location. What’s even better is that with recorded webinars there are also no time constraints. A learner can pace themselves through the material at a time, location, and device of choice. The ease of use and affordability that webinars provide, help foster shorter trainings…exactly what employees desire at their moment of need.
Webcasts are short pieces of video or audio information that employees can access from their device of choice when in need. While webcasting refers to live streaming of information over the web, podcasting refers to audio or video files placed online and available for Internet download by users and subscribers. Podcasts can also be used for marketing your business by creating educational information for consumers potentially strengthening the customer relationship.
We’ve described various ways PSTs can be implemented and offered a few examples. Learning is a never-ending process and PSTs help reinforce the investment you’ve likely already made in your training program.
For more information on the ways Monarch Media can assist your organization please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.