Three Measures You Should Capture Now During COVID-19

I hope everyone is healthy and managing through these very trying times. And, I hope the same for your family and friends. I know this pandemic has not been easy.

All of us by now are well into our Covid-induced new world where we have shifted from instructor-led training (ILT) to virtual instructor-led training (vILT) and eLearning, supplemented by content available through our employee portals. On top of all of these changes, you have probably had to create new courses on safety and return-to-work procedures. Perhaps you have provided guidance to your leaders about how to manage remotely in stressful times. Some have even gone into cost reduction mode to help offset the loss of income.

While you’ve been really busy, I hope are ready to ‘come up for air’ now. If so, here are a few measurements to think about. If you have not already implemented them, there is still time to collect the data before it gets lost.

Make Time to Collect and Analyze Data

First, be sure you are collecting data on your vILT and any new courses you have put online. You may be using a new platform like ZOOM, that were not set up to connect with your learning management system (LMS), and the number of participants may not be recorded and not be receiving typical follow-up survey. In this case, be sure to set up a system to capture the number of participants manually—perhaps by asking instructors to send in counts. And, consider sending a survey out to at least a sample of participants—even if you have to do it manually. If you cannot easily generate the email list of participants, send to a sample of all employees and make it more general. For example, ask whether you have taken a vILT course, online course, or downloaded content in the last three months. Then, get feedback on each.

Feedback, especially for vILT, is important so you can compare to ILT and understand what participants like better about it as well as what they dislike. Surprisingly, some organizations are reporting higher or equal scores for vILT. And these results are from vILT which was probably rushed into production (i.e., presentations from ILT that were used and repurposes for vILT). Imagine how much better vILT could be if it were actually designed for virtual delivery. This is the data you and your leaders will need to decide if you want to permanently change your mix to less ILT in favor of more vILT when the pandemic is over.

Capture Your Efficiency Savings

Second, be sure to capture the efficiency savings as a result of switching to vILT and online courses. Typically, vILT and eLearning will be less expensive because there is no instructor or participant travel and the course may be shortened. To be fair you should really only count the savings where an alternative to ILT was provided. Of course, there will be savings from simply cancelling ILT with no replacement, but that is not really a savings. It is just a reduction in offerings. You can estimate the cost of ILT and the cost of vILT so you can calculate the difference. Don’t be afraid of estimating—it’s a common business practice.  If you have too many offerings to make a calculation for each course, come up with the  average ILT and vILT cost, find the difference, and multiply it by the number of participants.

Capturing the dollar savings from switching to vILT is important because there is real value there and it should factor into your decision about continuing with a mix of learning modalities after the pandemic ends. The savings will be especially large for organizations where participants or instructors incur travel and lodging costs.

Calculate Your Opportunity Costs

Third, calculate the reduction in opportunity costs by switching to vILT and e-learning. Opportunity cost is the value of participants’ time while in class and traveling to and from class. This adds up—especially for half-day or full-day courses and can easily exceed the accounting costs (i.e., room rental, supplies, instructor, etc.) for some courses.

Calculating opportunity cost is simple. Take the average hourly employee labor and related cost (including benefits, employer paid taxes, etc.) from HR and multiply it by the reduction in hours from switching to vILT and e-learning. For example, suppose you replaced an 8-hour ILT with a 5-hour vILT, which also saved participants one hour of travel time.  The reduction in hours would be 3+1=4 hours. Multiply the 4 hours by the number of participants and by the average hourly compensation rate. You can use the average hours for an ILT course and compare it to the average for vILT or e-learning to make the calculation at an aggregate level.

It’s important to account for savings in travel time—because employee’s time is valuable. By eliminating travel, you are giving time back to employees when you move to vILT or e-learning. Share the opportunity cost savings with your senior leadership, CFO, and CEO along with the savings in course costs. The opportunity cost savings, in particular, is likely to be an impressive number. Think about this savings when you decide whether to go back to ILT or keep using vILT.

I hope you find these measures helpful. You really need them to make an informed decision about what to do when the pandemic ends. I think the profession has a great opportunity to use this experience to become much more efficient and effective in the long run.

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