How to Win Big at Employee Training

Our training dilemma

Your employees are probably not listed as an asset on your balance sheet, but it’s widely accepted that they are your most valuable resources. We know that on average, companies spend more than a third of revenues on wages and benefits. In the complex global workforce of today, your people represent your chance to boost your organization out of the pack and to the top.

The ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy, and engage talent—at all levels—is really the only true competitive advantage an organization possesses, according to Development Dimensions.

Research from the Brookings Institution affirms the growing understanding that an organization’s talent is where its most prominent value and promise lay.

According to the Brookings Institution, in 1982, 62% of a company’s value was ascribed to tangible assets, and only 38% to intellectual property and people. By 2003, 80% of value was attributed to people, brand, and other intangibles, and 20% to material goods such as facilities and equipment.  See footnote for link.

If we take, as a truism, that people are your primary competitive edge—an attitude widely held by research over the last decades—then it follows that developing their skills must be a huge priority for any business striving to grow. Even two years ago, researchers reported that retention and engagement issues ranked second, only superseded by building global leadership (which is certainly related).

Here we meet the crunch: despite a ferocious focus on employee training, we are failing with a big red “F.” According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. firms spent $156 billion training employees in 2011—and only 10% of new skills learned stick longer than a year.

We know training and development is crucial, and we know we’re failing. What to do?

The Training Octopus

The question of how to teach employees can seem like an unmanageable, slippery eight-limbed creature: always on the move and difficult to evaluate. You may be dealing with some or all of these challenges:

  • How can I simultaneously educate all of my employees about a new subject or process?
  • How do I communicate effectively to a wide range of cultures and languages?
  • How can I make training more interesting for my employees?
  • What are the best ways to present information and have it retained and used appropriately?
  • What are the most cost-effective training methods?
  • What are the current trends in employee learning?
  • How do I accommodate the wide range of electronic devices my employees prefer to use?
  • How can I measure the effectiveness of our employee training?

The answer lives on a screen near you.

Quick: how far away is your closest electronic screen—on your wrist? In your pocket?

As a research tool, the internet is invaluable. — Noam Chomsky

The last time you wanted to learn how to get the wine stain out of your shirt or build a bookshelf, where did you go? Chances are, you searched online and ended up watching a video. Why? Because it’s the most attractive way to get the information you want. Video learning takes advantage of that predisposition; videos leverage technology and psychology to help people learn. Video side-steps a lot of people’s resistance to training.

Invodo, a video branding company, reported that between 2014 and 2015, online video views increased 42%. Can any other industry or media claim such exponential exposure?

Video is ubiquitous because it is successful. We could point to pages of research from marketing and education professionals attesting to the efficacy of video, but it’s something we all intuitively understand. Moving images make learning easier and more fun, so it works. Video easily creates emotional connections, which means we relate and remember. How many ad jingles from your childhood can you still repeat (or even sing) verbatim?

Video makes sense to the bottom line as well; Syndacast reported that more than half of marketing experts around the world see video as the media with the best ROI.  

How are you leveraging the power of video for your employee training programs?

The Internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, the way we learn about the world and the way we conduct business. — Ron Wyden

It’s clear: employee education is crucial, and video is a very smart choice medium. That brings us to the question of implementation.

Despite the plethora of tools at our fingers—starting with the smart phone in your pocket—creating effective online learning is not something you can do on your lunch hour. “Talking heads” no longer hack it for employees deluged with sophisticated audio-visual material at every click or tap.

To develop a cohesive, effectual video training program requires knowledgeable guidance on creative, process, and practical levels. Transitioning from conventional training to online learning necessitates an organization-wide plan and budget you can only generate with advice from people who have the expertise and experience to share.

Your organization’s success is driven by the extent to which you develop your people’s skills, and video is an essential tool in that process.  What are the various pathways open to you?

DIY. Creating video is complicated, very time consuming to learn, and has a steep learning curve. It’s an art developed through experience and research, and it involves several disciplines (creativity, an understanding of how people see and learn, sound, animation, writing, filming, directing, music, budget and project management, computer software and hardware, and camera operation are just a few of the basics). You already have a full-time job, and so do your subordinates.

Hire staff. You can create an in-house staff to meet your video needs, with all the costs associated with adding full-time employees (and, ironically, seeing to their training needs) and procuring a wide variety of expensive equipment. This isn’t practical for any except the largest of companies.

Hire independent vendors.  This is a good way to go if you have a good understanding of the production process and are willing to act as “general contractor” for your project. The risk in using independent vendors is that they often have very limited resources, which makes it hard for them to adapt to your changing schedules and requirements during the process.  Although there are many great independents out there, it is true to say that there a lot of folks who are unproven and a high risk for any serious project.

Hire a Production Company. You can develop a close working relationship with a video production company, with staff who not only have expertise in making videos, but take the time to learn what your company needs and how it works in order to deliver the most efficient, effective video-based learning solutions for your needs. This company becomes your partner in employee training and takes responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of the final deliverable.

Creating compelling training content that engages, entertains and educates is our mission. — James Ringrose, CEO Real Cool Productions.

We’ve written about choosing the right company for your needs before.

To summarize:

  1. You want a video production company with three clear strengths: creativity, technical skills, and project management.
  2. Use a production company that can carefully select from the most appropriate choices for your organization, including translations, closed captions, and local footage, as well as being empathetic to the local cultures.
  3. You want people with imagination and vision who know their craft and will deliver a product to you within the deadlines and budgets set.
  4. Websites, portfolios, and interviewing will help; one of the predeterminates for an online learning project is simply previous experience and success in projects of very similar parameters.
  5. Clear evidence of a proprietary project management process should be a priority in your search. It should:
    • Conform to a recognizable process model, whether agile or waterfall
    • Contribute to crystal-clear communication about your project’s progress
    • Make your involvement and feedback clear and easy to contribute
    • Result in a video that meets your expectations, and is finished on time and on budget.

Seven ways video addresses today’s employee training challenges

Here are just a few ways video can address your needs to increase employee productivity.

  1. Video excels at boiling complex concepts down to the essence.
  2. Short, highly condensed videos portray information without losing the power of the message; training time is lessened without decreasing retention.
  3. Online video can train a workforce in scattered locations and accommodate multiple languages and cultures, simultaneously, without the travel costs and time required by speakers.
  4. Video creates positive learning experiences; it engages and entertains as well as educates.
  5. Video can be delivered over a host of devices, accommodating the Bring Your Own Device shift from employer-provided to employee-provided tools.
  6. Video creation can begin with your existing conventional instruction, translating and adjusting current material into a new medium.
  7. Interactive learning lends itself to both closed and open feedback loops to track the results of training and ROI.

Real Cool Productions has delivered engaging training video programs for 6 years and several hundred companies

  • RCP’s training programs deliver employee performance improvement as measured by our clients – we work with you to measure the effect of training on delivering business value.
  • Real Cool is a full-service video production company, guiding clients from initial project definition through implementation of the training program.
  • We complete several hundred projects each year, ranging from video and mixed media to full-blown animations and video-based mobile apps. We produce green-screen-based television ads, product videos, training content, documentaries, commercials and interview footage of all kinds.  [tailor this point towards training]
  • Our website showcases personnel, projects, and awards, demonstrating our individual prowess and skill sets and our success as a collective. A wide-ranging portfolio provides ample evidence of our range of scope, creativity, and technical expertise.
  • Real Cool uses a highly-developed, tried and trusted proprietary process to mitigate risk, enhance outcome, and control time and budget.

To start your journey with Real Cool Productions, download our free e-book, Real Cool Production’ Path to Your Video Success.

Online learning is an effective, exciting, quickly growing industry. We love it, and we look forward to learning how we can help your employees grow into the essential asset that they are, taking your company into the arena of game-changing innovation and success.

  3. Jeff Schwartz, Josh Bersin, and Bill Pelster, “Introduction,” Global Human Capital Trends 2014, Deloitte University Press, March 7, 2014,
  5. Video Statistics: The Marketer’s Summary 2016