As technology has advanced, and the creating and sharing of digital information has become simpler, e-learning is now being used by many different companies in many different industries. It has proven especially useful for international companies that can localize their e-learning material to be used in different countries, ensuring a standardization and high quality delivery of training across the entire company. If you’re working for such a company then e-learning may well be the solution you’re looking for.
But how do you know if e-learning is right for your company? What will the process be like? How successful will it be? Well, to answer these questions we’ve looked closely at how one of the most international of all international companies decided to use e-learning.
Who are we talking about?
In 2001, McDonald’s had 30,000 restaurants in 110 countries, with a total of 1.5 million employees speaking 28 different languages. The training system they used was already highly standardized, with materials being provided by their Headquarters in Illinois, and the training being delivered by team leaders and managers who had themselves worked their way up through the company. This training method was highly successful and imitated by other companies.
So, why use e-learning?
The simplest answers are fluidity, efficiency, and cost. McDonald’s had a very high turnover rate with 1.5 – 2 million new trainees each year. It had new products and processes being constantly introduced, each of which required new training. It also believed in internal career development which meant employees would need frequent, ongoing training. Quite a tall order (perhaps a super-size order) considering that all of this was required consistently across 110 countries and in 26 different languages. The use of McDonalds’ original training method proved to be expensive and time-consuming, with no way to guarantee the quality of training being delivered.
McDonald’s hoped that e-learning would lower the costs of creating content on a large scale, bring consistency through localization, and reduce learning time while improving the effectiveness of training.
How could it be sure it would work?
It began with a pilot program rolled out in six countries (the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, and Canada) and four languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese). The content was created by third parties and first developed in English and then localized. The parameters for localization were precise interpretation and translation of content, understanding content implications, instructional integrity, and social, business, and economic sensitivity.
It introduced an e-learning system that didn’t completely replace face to face learning but supplemented it. The system had built-in accountabilities for getting people trained and was able to monitor and record progress.
How successful was it?
The pilot was judged to be highly successful. It saved both the trainers and trainees time, improved performance, and was enjoyed by all those involved, with some team members even talking about it to their friends. Feedback from both managers and trainees indicated that McDonald’s should continue to develop and implement e-learning, e-learning had a positive impact on customer satisfaction, and that e-learning improved the training experience.
What was the outcome?
McDonalds have since indicated that, by switching to e-learning, it has reduced its training costs by nearly 50%. In 2009, McDonald’s saved over £1m using e-learning in the UK alone. It’s clear from these results that the use of e-learning and localization of content for its international teams was an excellent choice. It improved the effectiveness of training, saved time and money, and meant that standardization through localization was much simpler.
So, if you’re looking for ways to make your company’s training cheaper and more effective, perhaps a well localized e-learning platform may be the right choice for you too. You might even eventually be ‘lovin’ it’…