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You don’t need an LMS for your small business, you need a learning platform

Your business might be small but we bet you’re dreaming big! However, increasingly competitive industries and rising rival numbers often act as a reality check for your aspirations. That’s why it’s important to make the most out of your time, budget and people

Investing in your people can be incredibly beneficial for small teams and businesses because when they’re learning continuously and progressing, they’re making you more competitive and helping you grow. That’s probably what you brought you here, right? The recognition that your staff need resources, new skills and the power to develop their existing ones if they’re going to help you compete.

What are your learning needs?

You’ve acknowledged your need for learning, but have you determined your learning needs? In order to reach your learning goals, you need to determine your current skills, the gap to your desired skills and how you’ll close that through learning. That’s a very basic summary, but we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to a learning needs analysis that should help. Because, in honesty, you won’t truly understand what you need in a platform until you’ve finished that process. 

An LMS is useful but an LXP could be more effective

If you’re new to learning and development, you’ll already be noticing that it’s an acronym-heavy industry. We’ll clear up the two most relevant here: the learning management system (LMS) and learning experience platform (LXP). 

The difference is as simple as the names suggest, one lets you manage which resources your people access, and the other gives them more freedom to experience learning on their terms. While an LMS predominantly allows you to manage and assign courses to employees, an LXP also gives them the freedom to find resources for themselves and take greater responsibility for their learning pathways. It’s not quite as cut and dried as that, so if you need more information, check out our take on the LMS vs. LXP issue.

The benefits of learning systems and platforms to small businesses

You might decide than an LMS is perfect for you, and that’s fine! It’s also why we’ve covered the benefits that apply to both, but we will try to bend your ear along the way and highlight where a learning platform does it better.

A better onboarding process

Never overlook the importance of your first impression, a good one can help employees feel more connected and make them more productive sooner. An LMS delivers courses directly to new joiners, but it’s not particularly good at the connection part. Whereas, with a learning platform, you can personalise onboarding pathways to each employee and connect them with knowledgeable colleagues in the process. This all plays a part in ensuring new people get up to speed faster, something you can measure through the quizzes and assessments you manage in your learning platform.

Engage and retain employees

When somebody leaves a small team, it’s much harder to manage and absorb their tasks than it might be in a big company. Hence why it’s so crucial to engage and retain your employees and minimise turnover.

Investing in their learning and development is an excellent way to ensure they feel valued and can see a path for growth in your small business. When you choose an effective learning platform, you give people the tools to perform their role better by growing their skill set – which can go a long way in keeping them happy. Engaged employees are 59% less likely to seek out a new job, and a Robert Half study recently revealed that a strong learning culture led to a 30-50% higher retention rate in companies.

Learn socially and share knowledge

We touched on this briefly, but it’s so important that it deserves its own section. When employees are able to share knowledge and resources, it creates a culture where they proactively and continuously learn from each other. This is one of the biggest differences between an LMS and learning platforms because the former is not designed for those social interactions.

When somebody in your team is a master of a task, it makes sense for everyone to be able to learn from them. What doesn’t make sense is somebody pestering them every time they need to know it. When you’ve got a learning platform, you only need to capture it once and it’s there for everyone, forever.

Better customer experiences

When employees are better trained and have access to more useful learning resources, they’ll be better placed to have meaningful interactions with your customers. However, there’s a big difference between completing a course and applying what you learnt and accessing the resources in key interactions with your customers. 

Learning platforms integrate better with the platforms you already use, meaning that you can learn in the flow of work. Essentially, you’re ensuring your people have access to the resources that make them better at their role, in the moments that matter.

Upskilling and reskilling

Did you do your learning needs analysis homework? If you did, then you’ll now be aware of the skills needed to progress towards your goals. In a small business especially, you can’t always just hire someone with those skills, so you’ll need to upskill or reskill existing employees.

But it’s not just a case of sending them on a course that teaches them that skill. If it was, an LMS alone would suffice. Instead, by creating a searchable library of your content, learning platforms allow your people to revisit resources when and where they need them. 

There are other benefits to using a learning platform to upskill people. For example, in HowNow, we’ll help you benchmark your current skills against live job roles, to understand those that are in demand. This context ensures you’re developing the skills that keep you competitive. Once you’ve agreed on that skill as part of their learning pathway, create a course that complements internal resources with external content. They’ll also be recommended related content once that skill’s listed as one they’re working towards. 

Training resources and employee data in one place

Having one platform that contains all this data makes assessing your progress and materials far easier, which makes reporting more efficient. From an employee perspective, having all the available resources in one location gives them more flexibility over how they learn. 

For a small business, a learning platform or LMS can be a serious financial commitment. That’s why you should be able to try them for free before you sign up! Get in touch with us today and we’ll show you around HowNow.

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