Online business training: how to overcome resistance and difficulties of your employees

Employees can't stand company training, even more so if it is online. Often they even resist it. How to limit and prevent this situation? Corporate training plays a fundamental part in the growth process of a company, so much so that it must be considered a real form of investment.

Online business training: how to overcome resistance and difficulties of your employees

An update steady and adequate training of staff , in fact, not only let you keep in step with the times and to increase the competitiveness of the company , to maintain a sound relationship with co-workers and employees by giving them an opportunity for professional growth and personal.


Yet, many entrepreneurs still struggle to use this type of resources proactively, and are limited only to refresher courses required by law (e.g. Safety at work ...).


The COVID-19 emergency and the ensuing lockdown have given a significant boost to the digitization and use of forms of work and remote communication.


The use of videoconferencing and project management platforms - to mention only the most essential solutions - has allowed companies to maintain operational continuity , but perhaps the most important resource during the lockdown were the eLearning platforms , which were also made available free for schools from industry leaders like Microsoft and Cisco .


All this, both in the field of entrepreneurship and in that of education, has not been without problems, mostly of a technical nature. Suddenly we realized how much Italy is still not very digitized , but above all how many people of all ages still have a very limited and limited approach to the work routine towards current technologies.


It is therefore not surprising that even when an entrepreneur decides to develop a company training plan that does not take place in person - a condition which is still very impractical, considering the current regulations on physical distancing - but online, beyond the choice of the type of course, of the most suitable methodology or platform may be in difficulty due to the resistance and difficulties shown by its employees.


There can therefore be several factors behind employee reluctance towards training, and even more so when it comes to online training. Personal and aptitude problems, in turn caused by technical and organizational difficulties, but also by the way in which the training course is chosen, presented, proposed and conducted.


We try to analyze the most common problems and understand how to overcome them.



Resistance to change

Some employees, for personal reasons related to age, training, level of digitization and personal nature, may reveal an almost innate resistance to any type of change, which is seen and experienced as an upheaval of the routine and workflows they are used to.


It is not, therefore, a problem necessarily linked to eLearning, but to a deep-rooted resistance to change, which extends to any new process or technology that is proposed in the company.


In this case, the entrepreneur must be able to communicate in the best way the advantages of online training, as it can be more effective, faster and safer than classroom training, highlighting how this choice was made in the interest of the employees, who will have the possibility of acquiring new skills, managing their own time independently and wherever they are in total freedom (up to a certain point, but we'll get to that later).


In some subjects - the older and / or less digitized - what can create resistance is not so much the training itself, but the fact that it is online and requires the use of certain technologies.


This possibility must be evaluated even before proposing an online training course, because it must be a point to be considered in the planning and organization phase of the course, thus trying to orientate on the choice of a platform that is easy to install and configure and with a user interface. Clear and intuitive. In any case, it is advisable to provide a pre-training to become familiar with the eLearning system chosen so that all employees may benefit from it easily.


Technical difficulties

Although it may seem obvious, the technical problems are a major obstacle for online education. Often, in fact, compatibility problems are encountered with operating systems, browsers and mobile devices that prevent the training activity for the simple fact that students do not have the possibility to access it. Things like this can discourage even the most enthusiastic users, creating a sense of frustration and mistrust that can lead them to decide to leave the course.


The choice of the LMS ( Learning Management System ) platform or in any case the way in which the online training activity will be carried out must therefore consider all the main compatibility options and offer multi-device solutions . In the case of courses limited to a small number of people, it would be a good idea to first inquire about how users will access the course, to make sure that no one can be excluded for technical reasons.


Another aspect that is often overlooked is the control of audio and video quality. Thinking of organizing a videoconference course without first checking whether students will be able to see and hear in a clear and defined way risks nullifying all good intentions. The problem, in this case, will not only concern those students who, due to the quality of the connection or other reasons, encounter this type of difficulty, but also all the others, including the speaker. Having to interrupt the lesson continuously to repeat a sentence or to start doing technical tests in the middle of the course it will create difficulties for the speaker and annoy the trainees who, not encountering any problems, will blame others for wasting their time and ruining their training.



Lack of motivation

When you went to school, did you ever wonder why you were forced to study subjects like astronomical geography, biology or Latin thinking they would never be useful to you in life?


It is the same mechanism whereby sometimes the correlation between a course and one's work is not clear, so participating in the online lesson seems like a useless waste of time. This results in a lack of motivation, to which anger and frustration can be added if the training activity is mandatory, and therefore seen as a constraint.


When you decide to assign training to your employees, it is essential that this is contextualized and related to the work scenario as much as possible.


The training activities can concern hard skills or soft skills, also often focus on the latter. In any case, the entrepreneur must make sure that managers and employees to whom the course is aimed are aware that the training activity will serve to acquire new skills and abilities, to stimulate their involvement, motivation and punctuality.


If these dynamics are common in traditional learning, they are further accentuated in online learning. ELearning can cause in some subjects a sense of disorientation, due to the lack of a physical figure - the teacher - with whom to interact and confront directly. To this we add the lack of a physical place and a specific time, this sense of disorientation further increases.


For this reason it would be good practice to give future students some indications on how to prepare for online training, similar to how it should have been done to prepare them for Smart Working, namely:


  • Devote a space to study
  • Make sure you have a stable connection
  • Set the goals you want to achieve with eLearning
  • Set up a review and review of what you have learned
  • Stimulate online interventions



Lack of interactivity

The main (and most obvious) difference between online learning and the classic classroom lesson is the lack of face-to-face interaction with the teacher and fellow students. For some people, especially the more extroverted ones, this situation can be a source of discomfort. Conversely, for those who are more introverted, having the opportunity to follow a training course in their comfort zone, without distractions or interference from the outside, can be a plus.


Human resources management software

This aspect must be considered even before starting the course, also because there is no lack of solutions available. Even the simplest videoconferencing platform includes a chat where, for example, learners can ask questions or propose interventions. It will be up to the speaker to choose whether to answer "live" or to take note of the various requests and dedicate a space to them at the end of the lesson. But it could also be useful to open a group on WhatsApp in which the students can communicate with each other and with the teacher even between one session and another of the training course, thus clarifying any doubts about the module just completed and thus arriving more confident and get ready for the next one.



Lack of involvement

Online training can also be very boring. Some webinars, for example, consist of endless sequels of texts, graphics and lists, alternating with multiple choice questions. In this case, students have to stay so focused on what scrolls on the screen that they cannot assimilate it. Thus, they end up getting bored, and boredom opens the door to the lack of involvement and motivation, thus compromising the entire training plan.


An effective online course must be dynamic, engaging and interactive. Some LMS platforms include videos, competitions, simulations, gaming elements… But even without using such sophisticated tools, a simple videoconferencing course can be organized to engage students. For example, interspersing PPT presentations with “live” situations in which the tutor explains expressing himself also with non-verbal language by interacting with real objects. Or by inserting videos. Organizing contests among the students. And, something so simple that it is often overlooked, by assigning an acknowledgment at the end of each module, a badge

Or a simple certificate sent by email. Or even by setting up a physical space within the company, such as a bulletin board in which the various participants are acknowledged that they have taken the training course.


Small attentions such as these will stimulate student involvement and encourage them to complete the training program.



Lack of time

The main advantage of online training undoubtedly lies in the great flexibility it offers, which allows students to take courses whenever they want, wherever they want, at their own pace and without physical limitations. However, this flexibility sometimes runs the risk of stimulating a certain laziness. Time passes and some students do not progress in the course, or even have not even started it. They have time and flexibility, but they never seem to find the time to start or continue their training.


Let us remember that saying "online learning allows you to learn at your own pace" does not mean "do as you please". The "freedom" to manage one's time to devote to the online course must first of all be "responsibility" , otherwise it will be inevitable that less motivated students will not be able to keep up. It would be good, therefore, indicating the deadlines specific to perform the various course modules and a deadline final to complete it by formulating a calendar shared by all and possibly accessible from the LMS platform. Alternatively, in the case of courses organized by videoconference, it should be the responsibility of the training manager to periodically send the students deadline alerts via WhatsApp, Mail or SMS.


Lack of practice

It is well known that the best way to learn something is by doing it (learning by doing), as taught by the theory of education of John Dewey, considered the initiator of pedagogical activism.


Yet many online courses underestimate this and focus solely on theoretical content and notions, thus preventing students from practicing and experiencing the full potential of the training process.


For this reason, it is important to provide that the training plan also includes simulations and practical exercises, so that employees understand the practical purposes of the course and the benefits that will derive from it for their work and for their professional and personal growth. This will also help them to immediately put into practice what they have learned during the training, with a consequent return on the investment by the company.




It goes without saying that any type of training aimed at employees of a company must be strictly functional to the needs of the company itself. Once the training plan has been developed, verified and approved, the entrepreneur or manager in charge will have to take care to put their employees in the optimal conditions to be able to follow it.


This will involve:


  • Adequate communication to explain the aims of the program and the benefits that will derive from it for employees and for the company;
  • The choice of efficient technological solutions within everyone's reach;
  • Provide information and guidance on how to make the most of online training;
  • Make sure that for the entire duration of the training activity there are open channels of communication between students and students and between students and trainers;
  • Provide elements of interactivity and student involvement;
  • Establish timelines and assign deadlines for completing the training activity;
  • Provide simulations and practical exercises.

By implementing these best practices it will be possible to prevent and limit the resistances and difficulties most frequently expressed by employees, thus allowing the company to return the investment made in the shortest possible time.

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