Virtual training

Top 5 Benefits of Developing Hands-On Methods for Employee Training Programs

The CloudShare Team

May 20, 2024 - 5 min read

Employee development methods continue to evolve at breakneck speed, thanks to a perfect storm of demographic shifts and technological advancements.

Consider that by 2030, Millennials and Generation Z will make up nearly 60% of the workforce. What’s more, per research by Cloud Assess, they are prioritizing learning and development more than any other generation — over a quarter of workers aged 16-34 believe training to be the most important factor where employee engagement is concerned. Given that it’s been well-established for some time that both demographics prefer hands-on, practical learning experiences, it follows that this is what your organization needs to provide.

More importantly, in order to ensure job satisfaction and reduce turnover, you need to offer hands-on training to employees on a continuous basis. Case in point: in a study of Millennial and Gen Z workers by Amazon, 74% of respondents expressed the belief that they could build better skills at a new job. The emergence of generative artificial intelligence has only further amplified this desire to learn — according to LinkedIn Learning, four in five people want to learn more about how to use AI in their careers, while a staggering 90% of organizations regard learning opportunities as their top retention strategy.

Suffice it to say that if your organization has not yet embraced experiential education, particularly if it provides hands-on technical training, you need to do so as soon as possible. You already have all the perfect building blocks to create more interactive virtual instructor-led training and self-paced training. You just need to learn how to use them.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways hands-on training has evolved in the past several years and the different ways that evolution can benefit your business and its hands-on training programs.

#1 Built to Scale, Smarter

In traditional classroom-based, hands-on practical training for employees, there is always a limit on physical space. A room has to be allocated (or even rented off-site) and configured, hardware needs to be brought and configured, and only a limited number of employees can be supervised by a given instructor. The moment that hands-on training goes virtual, those physical constructs fall away. In theory, you can train as many employees as you need around the clock and with very little setup time, configuration, or costs for the physical resources.

Generative AI allows you to add hyper-personalized learning into the mix, which is something that was previously quite difficult to deliver at scale. If you haven’t already begun to explore the technology, it may be worthwhile to do a bit of research into things like prompt engineering and best practices for deploying the technology. Like it or not, solutions like ChatGPT and Google Bard are here to stay — the sooner you can learn how to use them to your advantage, the better.

#2 Geographical Limits Fade into Irrelevance

Many HR managers who have organized a physical hands-on training workshop for an international firm hope never to do it again. The hotels, food, flights, agendas and scheduling planning (and snafus!), equipment rental… the list goes on. And from a corporate perspective, the budget also takes a hit beyond those direct expenses: the employee and training staff time that includes travel days and hours wasted over the course of the day during long lunches and breaks. Virtual training means that Ed from Toronto, Cathy from Essex, and Reyansh from Bombay can all participate from their dining room tables, without the planes, hotels, non-stop meals, and the rest of the overhead. And once training is complete? They can get right to work.

#3 Tracking and Checking for Assessing Progress

Having a room full of employees sitting in front of computers may do the trick as a “checkbox item” for hands-on practical training, but aside from a single “snapshot” test at the end (or along the way), there’s no way to know how well the training went, who needs more training, and who is ready to “graduate.” With the right platform for virtual training, the trainer can watch the progress of each trainee, jump in to directly demonstrate or correct a technique, or share their screen with the others in the class to create a teaching moment. This feedback loop just isn’t possible in a traditional classroom, especially with a passive, lecture-based approach that may or may not be “sinking in.”

This is why hands-on training is important; it requires the trainee to interact and perform, and that performance can be immediately assessed.

#4 Engage Every Kind of Learner

The human race is wonderfully diverse in our approaches to strategizing, mastering skills, and getting work done. And it all starts with our learning methods. Each employee, no matter how talented in certain areas, has strengths and weaknesses, preferences and aversions, and it’s now easier than ever to accommodate each with hands-on technical training that provides the flexibility to maximize their potential.

In addition to having their own unique learning style, different employees also approach training in different ways:

  • Some employees are goal-oriented Achievers. An Achiever tends to consume training content at a fast pace, rushing ahead so they can reach their objective. By the time they’ve reached their original goal, the Achiever is already charging ahead to the next challenge.
  • Whereas Achievers are all about the goal, Explorers are more interested in the journey. These employees patiently dig, prod, study, and analyze, covering each topic exhaustively to ensure they’ve covered all their bases. They’re problem-solvers who gain a real sense of accomplishment by understanding how everything fits together.
  • Socializers are all about human connection. They thrive in scenarios that allow them to interact with their peers and enjoy collaborative problem-solving. A Socializer also tends to fall readily into a mentorship role, helping other learners who appear to be struggling.
  • Hyper-focused employees are a study in contrasts. They might be some of the most engaged and passionate learners in your training program, or they might not care about even showing up. Stimulating, personalized learning keeps them involved — and it’s well worth the effort to do so.

The list goes on, and it bears mentioning that most employees embody more than one of the characteristics above — someone can be both an explorer and an achiever. There’s one thing that everyone here has in common, though. Hands-on training gives every type of learner what they require to succeed.

#5 Centralized Resources and Control

Remote virtual training is almost always cloud-based to make it easily accessible to trainers and trainees. This is true even when the training is done in-house or in a classroom — cloud platforms allow businesses to eliminate the technical resources that were at one point integral to software training. What’s more, with the benefit of the cloud, corporate software or tools can be easily adapted, configured, and replaced whenever necessary.

Especially when training is frequent and based on ongoing changes in a dynamic company’s toolkit, this centralized, instant-spin-up implementation – and the end of the one-off training server – translates to measurable savings.

The unstoppable, expanding trend of hands-on training

Practical experience will always trump passive knowledge. This is true whether that experience is gained in the classroom or through a virtual platform. It’s therefore hardly surprising that hands-on training has replaced passive learning in nearly every sector and tier of the workforce.

Nor is it surprising that training paradigms and modalities along with the technologies that support them, continue to evolve. The past several years sent that evolution into overdrive, and it’s hardly slowed down since. The proliferation of generative AI has the potential to completely change how we both teach and learn, enabling new, more engaging forms of hands-on training.

Ultimately, one thing holds true above all else — whether in front of a screen with virtual training, in a physical or virtual lab, in a workshop, or in the field, “hands-on” is the training of the future.

** This blog was originally published in May 2021, and updated in May 2024.