Does e-Learning really reduce training costs ?

We often hear that Digital Learning can reduce the costs of workplace training. But under what conditions? And how can the company capitalize on the savings? Above all, beyond the costs, wouldn’t it be better to focus on the ROI? Let’s take a closer look.

Direct training costs

While all companies recognise the need to train employees, both initially and on an ongoing basis, the cost of that training sometimes slows down their ambitions. Especially when the company becomes aware of the different direct and indirect costs of training.

Direct training costs

  • training design,
  • material production,
  • session facilitation,
  • room and equipment rental, etc.

Indirect training costs

  • transport,
  • food and lodging,
  • administrative management of training sessions,
  • lower productivity when training is provided on working time, etc.

When all these costs are tallied, in-person training can quickly become very expensive for the company. Especially when there are many employees to be trained at various remote locations.

E-Learning reduces indirect training costs

From this point of view, e-Learning may seem like THE solution to reduce training costs. While it still involves direct costs for training design and module provision, Digital Learning can reduce – or eliminate – many indirect costs.

Travel and accommodation costs are erased and the decline in productivity is reduced because the training is divided into modules spread over time. Plus, the stresses and disorganization associated with in-person training in long sessions over several days can also be mitigated.

Companies confirm that in terms of cost reduction, reality lives up to the promise: according to the annual 2017 Digital Learning Barometer (1), 72% of companies confirm that the transition to Digital Learning has allowed them to save money.

Reduce training costs by improving efficiency

Beyond its direct impact on training costs, the economic benefits of Digital Learning can be measured in terms of efficiency and team performance. For example, in the case of implementing a new commercial offer, such as launching a product, e-Learning makes it possible to train all employees more quickly, at national and international levels. Losses from unrealized sales due to lack of skills can be limited.

Reducing training costs shouldn’t be a company’s only goal. The effectiveness and therefore the profitability of its training programs must be at the heart of its considerations. Clearly, the company must look at ROI, rather than simply focusing on direct costs which would be tantamount to viewing training as a simple charge. Digital Learning brings many benefits to positions (like efficiency, skills and motivation), sales activity and therefore business (turnover, but also the internal and external image of teams as efficient and competent).

Companies seem sensitive to the double benefit of cost reduction and increased efficiency, as shown in Afinef’s 2018 e-Learning Barometer (2), where companies surveyed on their motivations for deploying e-Learning said they did so to:

  • reduce and optimize training costs (63%),
  • focus on training quality and effectiveness (56%).

Get support for your e-Learning project

However, switching to all Digital Learning is out of the question. Combining in-person and distance learning in a Blended Learning, strategy helps maintain contact with learners and generates cohesion within teams. According to the 2018 Afinef barometer, 63% of the companies surveyed anticipate that less than 50% of their training will be delivered by e-Learning by 2020.

In addition, the deployment of Digital Learning must be carefully prepared to avoid the risk of disappointment and exploding costs. Those responsible for training (management and design) must be trained upstream. And the transition from in-person to distance learning via Digital Learning must be supported by a change management approach, to get employees on board with the Blended Learning and stimulate new ways of learning. If the rate of learners using the Digital Learning solutions implemented by the company isn’t high enough, the project’s profitability can be compromised. To get employee buy-in, companies deploy different strategies.

The most effective? Learners say it’s tutoring (19% say that the presence of a tutor is important to finish a training) (3). Companies have everything to gain from being supported by an expert in the field.