Learning & Development, Technology

The Shortcomings of Video Training

One of the most fundamental conflicts in the world of employee training is the balance between cost and effectiveness. While companies certainly want to implement successful training programs that will reliably and effectively impart essential knowledge and skills to employees, they also obviously want to avoid breaking the bank on training.


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Training Format Impacts Cost

The format of training has a lot to do with both cost and effectiveness. Having an industry expert come on-site and sit in person with staff members on a one-on-one basis for several months to do an intensive training could be extremely effective. But it would obviously also be extremely expensive in terms of both time and money.

Instead, employers seek to increase the efficiency of trainings by training multiple staff at once and by using the same material more than once—i.e., recording training material instead of holding one-off, live sessions.

Video training has some readily apparent advantages here. Through training videos, employers can relay the same information over and over again to many employees at once or over time.

But, while video seems to score some points based on cost, what about effectiveness?

The Effectiveness of Video Training

A recent report from Kaltura, a video technology company that powers video experiences across large enterprises like Philips, SAP, and ADP, seeks to answer that question. Kaltura spoke with more than 1,200 full-time employees across the United States who work at companies with more than 500 employees to shed light on how video is being used for learning in the workplace.

In addition to looking at employees’ perceptions of training videos, the survey explores how enterprises are using video for learning and development today, whether current methods are working, and how enterprises can be smarter about how they use video to regain their employees’ attention.

In this feature, we review and analyze some of the report’s key findings.

Employers and Employees Both Value Video Training

First, the data show that video is a popular format for conveying information among both employers and employees. The report found that, among employers, “91% of respondents report that their company is using at least some video for training or learning and development. 90% of employees have used video to learn a specific skill.” Over the last 3 years, the vast majority see video use as either having increased (53.4%) or having stayed the same (34.95%).

Among employee respondents, “the majority, 69%, would prefer to learn a new skill from video as opposed to a written document.” Note that this last point doesn’t necessarily mean employees prefer video training over all other forms of training—just written documents. They may very well prefer in-person classroom trainings to video, for example.

Other key data points featured in the report include:

  • 64% of respondents said their employers are using live broadcasts or virtual classrooms for live training (an option that allows trainees to learn in real time and interact with their instructor).
  • 69% of employees are turning to short, informal “microlearning” videos to learn specific work-related skills.
  • 88% of respondents see video use in their organization as steady or growing, but only half of employees said they have access to the basic tools needed to make videos that could help spread knowledge across the organization.

Effectiveness of Video Training

Despite its popularity, unfortunately, this research indicates that video training isn’t necessarily particularly effective. The study found that 72% of employees do not give training videos their full attention—and 6% of employees don’t pay attention to them at all. This is fairly consistent across all generations.

This should be a big concern for employers and training departments. For one, even though video training is less expensive than some other options, such as bringing in experts for in-person seminars, it still requires an investment—in both time and money.

If this format doesn’t prove to be effective, the organization’s investment will have been wasted. In addition, employees won’t get the training they need.

How to Improve the Effectiveness of Video Training

While a significant majority of employees say they don’t give video training programs their full attention, it’s important to dig deeper into the data to see what might contribute to the minority who do give video training their full attention. What is it about the way those employees’ organizations handle video trainings that makes them more engaging and effective?

The survey data strongly suggest that interactive videos are much more effective than videos that are not interactive. The survey found that 82% of employees say interactive videos hold their attention better than traditional videos do.

“Videos can be made interactive by techniques such as adding hotspots that link to additional materials or videos, embedding quizzes in the video, and even building videos whose content and storyline change depending on the viewer’s choices,” according to the report.

Remote Live Training

Another training option is worth a mention here and is discussed in the report. Roughly two-thirds of respondents reported that their employer is using remote learning or virtual classrooms today.

This is essentially a hybrid between live, in-person training sessions and traditional, prerecorded video training programs. While this method has the benefit of being more interactive and the ability to reach a large number of participants, it’s likely to be more costly than prerecorded videos, and it may be difficult to coordinate schedules with large groups when the learning is in a live format.

Employers globally in every industry understand the value of having well-trained staff, and they want their training efforts to be effective. But the most effective option isn’t always the best option. Effectiveness is just one consideration, as businesses also need to think about cost.

While video training is often an attractive option in terms of cost, it may not always be particularly effective. This doesn’t mean, however, that companies should completely disregard video training. Videos offer the benefit of on-demand availability, as well as the ability to be leveraged at scale. And, as discussed previously, there are ways that videos can be made more effective, such as by adding interactive options or required tests or evaluations.

The bottom line: Companies must carefully consider and weigh the balance between efficiency and effectiveness when selecting any training option. Training that doesn’t resonate is training that has little value.