Should I Use YouTube For Employee Training?
The success of any business is dependent in large part on how well the company's employees understand and are able to perform their jobs. Training is the process we use to help workers acquire the knowledge and skills to be proficient. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) reports that employers indicate training is necessary for three primary reasons; 1) to provide skills specific to their organization, 2) to keep up with changes in technology or production methods and 3) to retain valuable employees. Furthermore, the human reality of forgetfulness makes it necessary for employees to have on-going access to training.
Training a staff of any size can be a challenge. During 2016 the average small business spent $1,052 per employee for training (Training Magazine, 2016). Decisions to invest in training are difficult when a reasonable ROI is difficult to show. Furthermore, many businesses struggle to find adequate time to provide and manage a consistent training program. The average employee received 43.8 hours of training in 2016 (Training Magazine, 2016). And according to Mimeo (2016) the average learning and development professional has three different roles to fulfill within their company, which can divert their expertise into non-training areas.
Budget constraints, vague ROI, and scheduling difficulties have caused many businesses to explore easier and less costly ways to train their employees. Some companies have simply given up on training in hopes that employees will gain sufficient on-the-job experience as quickly as possible, and not need formal training to learn to perform their jobs. Other companies have begun taking advantage of free video hosting services like YouTube, Vimeo, Lynda, MediaPlatform, Viostream, and others. Consider the following YouTube statistics reported by Fortunelords (2017):
YouTube is free, it’s easily accessible on most mobile devices, and is utilized by approximately 180 million Americans (Statista). Who of us hasn’t used YouTube as a quick and easy way to learn how to do something? It is a phenomenal resource. So it’s not much of a stretch to consider that free video-based services might offer a ‘quick and easy’ alternative for employers to train employees. The purpose of this paper is to address the strengths and limitations of YouTube and other video-based services as an effective means for employee training.
ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE TRAINING
Effective training design includes the following elements;
Video-based training providers publicize several benefits of using their platforms including;
1) reduced costs
2) ability to accommodate different learning styles
3) high engagement factor
4) reduced travel budgets, and
Unfortunately, these most commonly touted benefits do not necessarily equate to effective training.
For training to be effective it should include each of these four elements: 1) Explain, 2) Demonstrate, 3) Practice with Feedback, and 4) Assessment. The combination of these four elements helps ensure an effective, and therefore cost-effective program. YouTube and other video sources can be an excellent medium for the first two elements - Explain and Demonstrate. However, they do not provide the other two critical elements - Practice with Feedback and Assessment. Including each of the four elements in training results in a valuable learning experience with an ROI that can be demonstrated. The exclusion of one or more elements in a training program wastes both time and money. Managers should use these four elements as a guide as they consider the value of any training their employees receive, including video-based training. They may be surprised to discover they may not be as good as advertised.
COMPARING YOUTUBE TO EFFECTIVE TRAINING
As mentioned previously, YouTube and other video-based resources are being considered by more and more employers as a training medium. Let’s look at YouTube and how it stacks up against the standards of effective training.
Explaining, or telling about something is the most common element across all kind of training, and YouTube is no exception. A bird's eye survey of education and training videos found on YouTube reveals that most videos include some type of an explanation of the steps of the process they intend to teach.
Score: 5 out of 5
Much training is heavy on the tell and light on show. For example, textbooks typically lack a demonstration of the skill to be learned. Video, on the other hand, is an ideal medium for showing how to perform new skills. Many YouTube videos are exactly this - showing how to do something. Others do well at explaining but do not include needed demonstrations.
Score: 4 out of 5
3. Practice with Feedback:
As previously described, practice is essential for effective training. In fact it’s during these practice-feedback cycles that the most learning happens. The use of video as a non-interactive medium means that practice in any form is typically excluded in YouTube-based training. Individualized feedback on a learner’s performance is impossible using YouTube or any other video-only training.
Score: 0 out of 5
Assessments provide trainers and learners with important information about whether or not the learners have acquired the new skill. Since assessments are similar to practice, YouTube videos are equally poor at providing assessment information as they are at practice with feedback.
Score: 0 out of 5
Overall Score: 2.25 out of 5