An Experienced People Director Shares 3 Ways to Use Your LMS
If you’re an HR leader wondering how to get the most value out of your learning management system (LMS), Michelle Reid , people and operations director at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), has some advice for you:
“Ask your peers what they use, what they like, and what they don’t like.”
Director, Institute of Occupational Medicine
However, in the case that there aren’t an abundance of HR professionals with firsthand experience using an LMS in your community, we sought out the answers you need—from Reid herself.
As a self-declared tech savvy HR pro with over 15 years of experience in the industry, Reid has a good grasp on the value an LMS can provide for an organization. In fact, she’s responsible for IOM’s adoption of an LMS in the first place.
Ahead, we’ll cover three ways to use your LMS tool based on Reid’s experience. In each section, we’ll explain how Reid uses her LMS platform to carry out different tasks and provide you with tips that will help you maximize the return on investment (ROI) you get from your own LMS investment.
1. Provide development opportunities to employees with premade course libraries
Prior to Reid’s arrival at IOM, there wasn’t an LMS in place. But she’d overseen the adoption of one at her previous role with another company, and she was motivated to bring one onboard at IOM in order to get her workforce access to a course library.
“It was a quick win—giving people access to a library of training that would help them with whatever they needed.”
Course libraries are a feature of many learning management systems. Course libraries host a variety of premade, off-the-shelf training content that can be accessed at any time by your employees. They are typically curated by LMS software vendors with guidance from leading e-learning content providers, and cover topics related to IT, sales, management, marketing, and more.
For a 90-person organization such as IOM, having a wealth of professional development content on hand is a no-brainer. It allows Reid’s employees to learn new skills and earn certificates along the way, without having a formal professional development program in place.
Once a month, Reid assigns every employee at IOM an e-learning course to complete. Sometimes these assignments are compliance trainings, but oftentimes they’re modules related to professional development.
Plus, employees can access course content from the library whenever they want and the system will recommend additional content based on the courses they’ve previously completed.
Interested in taking advantage of all that course libraries have to offer? Here’s what to do:
First, evaluate your current LMS’s offerings: Ask your software vendor if their platform has a feature similar to a course library. In some cases, it may require upgrading your plan to gain access to this feature. If you don’t have an LMS, we recommend visiting our list of learning management systems FrontRunners to gain a better understanding of the top-rated tools in this category.
Next, make the entirety of the course catalog available to everyone within your organization: Inspired by Reid’s approach, we suggest adjusting the permissions settings within your LMS so that all courses are available to every employee at your business. Doing so will increase the likelihood that employees seek out opportunities to upskill on their own time.
Lastly, create a plan to ensure employees access and complete courses: The idea here is to have a plan in place that ensures that your employees are regularly accessing content in the course library. For example, you can opt to have managers assign training courses to their team members, or you can let employees choose which modules they’d like to complete each month.
2. Create and deliver compliance training with content authoring tools
Whether it’s due to new legislation that affects your workforce or changing company policies, every organization has to deliver compliance training from time to time. Knowing this, Reid decided to use her LMS’s course authoring tool to create her own compliance training content in-house.
Course authoring, or content authoring, is a feature of most learning management systems that allows users to create their own e-learning courses. With course authoring, admins can upload content in the form of videos, slides, PDFs, images, and audio, and turn it into modules for learners to complete. They can also measure learners’ knowledge through quizzes and tests, and create a knowledge base where employees can access information on company policies. Note: Some LMS do not have their own content authoring ability, which is why there’s a category of standalone e-learning authoring tools.
Because Reid creates the courses herself, she keeps it simple: For example, if she has a four-page policy that she needs everyone in the company to read, she’ll upload it to her LMS’s content authoring tool, create a quiz that requires a digital signature, and voilà—there’s her compliance training. Plus, keeping track of who’s completed mandatory compliance training is easy thanks to her LMS’s reporting capabilities.
“Being able to house policies inside the content authoring tool and package them as a module is great because I can get a report, I can get a [completion] certificate, I’ve got all of that.”
Want to manage compliance training in-house with an LMS? Here’s what to do now:
First, designate who will create compliance courses: Depending on your LMS’s plan, you may only have the ability for one or two users to create courses. Because of that, it’s essential to determine who within your organization will handle that responsibility up front, such as an HR specialist or HR generalist.
Next, begin building an internal knowledge base within your LMS: Reid uses her LMS like a company intranet. That way, when an employee has a question about a policy or program, they can access information within their LMS to learn more. Doing this in tandem with creating and delivering compliance trainings will ensure that workers know where to go when they need information, but it will also make creating or updating training material even easier, because all of the related collateral will already be stored in your LMS.
Lastly, keep tabs on completion rates. Undoubtedly, one of the most beneficial aspects of using an LMS for compliance is the easy access to completion reports. We suggest checking completion rates for compliance courses on a regular basis to ensure that every employee is up to date. Save a copy of the reports outside of the system in case an outage prevents you from accessing that information in a pinch.
3. Guide new hires through the onboarding process with learning paths
How do you manage new hires’ to-do lists? Do you have an extensive spreadsheet that details resources they need to comb through and training sessions they must attend? Or perhaps you empower your people managers to oversee their own new hires’ onboarding process? Whatever your approach is, Reid has a suggestion for how to make it simpler: Create a new hire learning path in your LMS.
Learning paths are a highly-powerful feature of learning management systems that allow admins to group together a selection of courses for learners to progress though. This allows learners to master a certain subject matter by guiding them through a predetermined list of relevant e-learning content.
Reid uses learning paths to help onboard new hires by setting up two weeks worth of daily learning sessions. For example, a new hire’s first week at IOM will include a mix of in-person introductions and training sessions and e-learning modules that they can complete on their own time.
“We kind of help them with an itinerary for the first couple of weeks. So their first afternoon, they spend time reflecting on what they’ve learned through doing a bit of e-learning, then the next day, they’ll follow that up with on-the-job training with a colleague.”
The great thing about learning paths is that they can be tailored to a specific position or subject matter, but they can also be broad. So, for instance, you can create a generic learning path for all new employees that includes content that explains your organization’s value proposition, operations, and structure. Or you can develop learning paths for new hires in specific roles or teams, such as a customer service or sales learning path.
Want to simplify onboarding with the help of learning paths? Keep these tips in mind:
First, try creating an evergreen, generic new hire learning path: Dip your toes into incorporating your LMS into your onboarding process by starting with a generic learning path with information that is relevant to all new employees. Examples of topics modules could cover include an overview of your organization’s core values, highlights from your employee handbook, and an introduction to your employee referral program.
Don’t try to replace in-person training with e-learning sessions: One rule Reid has is that new hires can’t complete more than 45 minutes of e-learning at a time. This is because cramming online course after online course isn’t actually conducive to learning. Instead, e-learning courses should be used to complement or reinforce what your new hires learn in-person during onboarding.
Involve team managers when you’re ready to create more specific learning paths: When the time comes to start creating new hire learning paths that are tied to specific roles or departments, there are a few things to keep in mind: First of all, prioritize roles in your organization that multiple people perform. And second, involve the manager who oversees the role in the process of developing content for the learning path to ensure that it’s on the mark.
Don’t settle for an LMS that lacks the features you need
Reid’s final advice for fellow HR leaders in regards to learning management systems? Sign up for as many demos as you can.
Even though IOM already has an LMS, Reid regularly attends software demos so that she can stay up to date with what’s on the market. And although her current system is working for now, she considers herself still on the search for the perfect learning platform:
“Ultimately, only you can decide what the best LMS is for your business, so you need to have a real clear vision as to what you want the LMS to do, and then ask [vendors] all of those questions.”
If the applications we cover in this article are aspirational to you, set things in motion by evaluating the features your current LMS offers. And if they’re not up to speed, take a page out of Reid’s book, and start attending demos.
Get started by chatting with one of our expert software advisors. All you have to do is have a short discussion about your business, the features you’re interested in, and your budget, and they’ll recommend five top-rated LMS tools that meet your criteria—free of charge.
Michelle Reid, LinkedIn