E-pub - is e-learning on your menu?

Related tags Training Skill

Is e-learning on your pub's training menu? Robert Duprey makes out the caseIncreasingly intense competition, high customer expectations and the need...

Is e-learning on your pub's training menu? Robert Duprey makes out the case

Increasingly intense competition, high customer expectations and the need to retain quality employees are challenges almost every publican faces. One of the best ways to address them is through a training programme that consistently delivers.

Unfortunately, the demands of running a hospitality business, time constraints and high staff turnover present obstacles to delivering training effectively. But what about e-learning?

Using a computer to deliver training is not a new concept. While there are increasing numbers of success stories, though, eLearning has yet to catch on in the hospitality industry to the extent it has in other sectors such as finance and IT.

One argument against it is that the pub business is a people business. Very true, but a large percentage of the people who make up your staff belong to the "Nintendo generation". They do not want to learn from an authority figure standing in front of them. They are comfortable in front of a PC and want to explore and progress at their own pace at a time that suits them, in an environment they are comfortable with.

This is a tough audience to capture and the training experience has to be engaging, fast, colourful, "player"-driven, challenging and fun.

Another argument is that you can't use a computer to teach "people skills", it must be experienced first-hand. Well, that is also true - up to a point. E-learning should never totally replace practical live training, especially for customer-facing roles. But a well-written e-learning course can deliver the theory behind your service philosophy along with procedure and policy in an interesting and engaging format.

This "blended learning" approach is ideal for ensuring a base level of understanding for a group of employees with varying knowledge and skill levels before they interact with your customers or take part in a live training event.

For example, you might train new members of staff in your customer care and service policy on the computer then practice what is learned with a group in a live role play session.

If you are an independent publican and do not have the time, money or expertise to deliver training courses, e-learning can do it for you. If you are a multiple with geographically dispersed employees you can use a network to deliver training everywhere at the same time.

With e-learning you can provide training to new employees or refresher training to existing employees as and when required - while actually reducing training costs. The more people you train, the less it costs per head.

And what about time? Employees can be trained as and when required. New people can be trained the day they start. You can deliver training "just in time" so employees can learn in bite-sized chunks, eliminating the need for them to be away from work for extended periods.

Studies have shown that training time can be reduced by between 30 and 70 per cent compared to traditional training methods while also cutting out the costs involved in the time and travel associated with training courses.

But does it really work?

To measure effectiveness, trainees can take online pre- and post-course assessments that record scores and generate reports. Based on the results, the course can be customised to deliver only the information that each individual needs.

So a newly hired person that has already worked in hospitality and understands the topic can progress quickly or opt out of some material, saving time and getting them on the job faster.

In almost every area e-learning is well suited to the pub industry.

* It is delivered in a format your staff will be comfortable with

* Courses are available 24/7 so new employees can learn before, after or between shifts

* Information can be updated quickly to accommodate new policies or product and service offerings and updates can be communicated instantly.

With more than 22 years management and training experience in the pub and restaurant industries Robert Duprey founded Lexington Interactive which offers a catalogue of interactive training courses for the hospitality sector. For more information go to www.lexingtoninteractive.com

Related topics Training

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