Over the past year, as you’ve had to rethink your business—add e-commerce, step up your social media, bring in new software—you’ve asked your employees to do a lot, too. If you’ve all been guessing together how to use new technology, online training can help smooth the transition.
Helping employees learn and master new, different job skills—often called reskilling—is more important and easier than it’s ever been. Online learning platforms help small business owners with training, so that employees can adapt to a rapidly changing e-commerce environment. Whether you’re a coffee shop owner implementing a new touchless payment system like Toast or a retail manager reskilling your team to work with programming languages like Python, online training can give your employees the skills they need to thrive.
Why do I need to reskill my team?
The pandemic has accelerated three trends that were already taking shape in the Before Times: remote work, e-commerce and digitization. To stay agile in this new environment, employees will need to handle more learning-based tasks. For example, a restaurant in Chicago saw a significant increase in online orders in 2020. To keep up with demand, they reskilled a bartender to remotely manage online ordering. The digitization of their business created skill gaps in their workforce, which they filled through reskilling and professional development.
E-learning in the age of e-commerce
Learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Udemy allow you to search for courses based on the skill gaps you have in your business. You’ll find classes to learn marketing skills and to help create and activate social media campaigns. These platforms also offer online courses that cover the tools and functions of business software from HubSpot, Oracle and more, so you can learn more about software you may have recently implemented. You can keep the learning very basic or go deeper into subjects based on the needs of you and your employees.
The best online learning platforms
- LinkedIn Learning – Offers video courses in software, creative and business skills. Suggested courses: Time Management: Working from Home, Excel 2016 Essential Training, Learning Python.
- Udemy – Online course provider with a Udemy for Business option, allowing companies to access the top 5,500+ courses on the site for their employees. Suggested courses: Machine Learning A-Z, The Web Developer Bootcamp, Photography Masterclass.
- Coursera – Online course provider partnering with top universities to offer courses, certifications and degrees for students and professionals. Suggested courses: Learning How to Learn, Successful Negotiation (offered by University of Michigan), Introduction to Marketing (offered by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania).
- edX – Online course provider similar to Coursera, partnering with top universities to offer classes to a wide range of students. Suggested courses: Introduction to Computer Science (offered by Harvard University), Agile Project Management (offered by University of Maryland), Basic Spanish.
- HubSpot Academy – Offers free and paid online training for professionals in marketing, sales and customer service. Short classes that function as primers rather than rigorous learning experiences—some can be completed in just an hour! Suggested courses: Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Frictionless Sales Certification Course, How to Build a Paid Media Strategy.
- Skillshare – Offers non-accredited courses via educational videos, with an emphasis on interaction rather than lecture. Subscription required. Suggested courses: Designing Brand Symbols, iPhone Filmmaking, Introduction to SEO.
- GoSkills – Online learning platform offering “bite-size” courses in Project Management, Finance, Excel and other career-oriented skills. Suggested courses: Microsoft Excel – Basic & Advanced, Financial Modeling Basics, CAPM Certification Training.
Introducing online courses to your team
No need to be daunted by online learning. There’s a lot of flexibility built in to the platforms and you can take it one step at a time. Once you’ve chosen the platform that has the training you want, you can start choosing specific courses for your employees and establish your deadlines easily. Udemy for Business, for example, lets you assign team members to courses by simply typing in their email. LinkedIn Learning also lets you recommend or share content as an admin, then set learning paths for your team.
To effectively integrate skills-based learning, follow four simple steps:
- Identity a skill gap in your business. This could be something as simple as Excel or as complex as inbound sales. Spending time identifying what skills your team needs to thrive in the next 18 months will mitigate more “baptism-by-fire” experiences.
- Choose a single online learning platform for your employees. The seven platforms listed above offer professional development courses and other continued learning options. Pick the platform that offers courses that fill your skill gaps.
- Assign employees to courses. Emphasize the importance of continued learning to your employees, then support their educational journey as they work to complete their courses.
- Allow learning to be part of work. Give employees time on the clock to do coursework, and make sure your broadband network is reliable enough to support a hassle-free online education experience for multiple users at once.
Your employees spent a year embracing uncertainty and learning on the fly. By giving them a chance to learn more intentionally, you’re angling your business toward success in a skills-based economy. Investing in your people will ensure that your business is ready for anything.
Product features and course availability may have changed and are subject to change.