Increasing the Margins: Using Instructional Design to Increase Performance

man sitting at a desk working on a computer smiling at the camera

Written by Dr. Diana Brandon

“Numbers don’t lie.” There’s a reason that expression has become a cliché. Numbers are everywhere in our data-driven world: steps in a day, minutes viewed, miles per gallon (or per charge), impressions, margins, etc. Numbers are information, and seeing numbers you don’t like gives you a place to start improving. No one wants to see high turnover, expensive fines, or low ratings, but those are the data points that drive our daily interactions. Do you purchase the 1.2-star item or find one that is at least 4.5? Do you pick the fastest shipping time? What about the lowest cost?

Data also drives organizations. Test scores, safety incident reports, employee turnover rate, profit margins, satisfaction ratings, and performance reviews provide valuable information that helps to guide the decision-making process. All these decisions impact other things. Test scores determine how much funding schools get and affect home prices. Performance reviews shape retention and promotion decisions; they also guide company culture.

These data points are another commonality: high-quality instructional design can improve them. Organizations of all sizes, regardless of industry, need instructional design. However, many organizations don’t know it. High-quality instructional design can impact the efficiency and performance of any organization. Instructional design contributes to streamlined work processes, quicker onboarding, lower turnover rates, improved training effectiveness, and reduced fines in any sector, including medical, legal, education, manufacturing, and utility services.

group of happy people with their thumbs upQuicker (and Less) Onboarding

Effective onboarding is a priority for businesses of all sizes. Indeed.com estimates that onboarding costs between $1,000 and $5,000 per employee because the employee and a mentor are occupied with onboarding rather than their regular duties. Well-designed onboarding harnessing instructional designers can make this quicker by identifying the critical information through analysis and designing for efficient application.

Have you ever been through an onboarding that was several days of back-to-back lecture-style sessions where you sat all day listening? Do you remember anything from those days other than misery? Skip the extensive. If onboarding could be done more efficiently, the new hire and the mentor could begin or return to their regular duties faster. This reduces salary waste and makes an organization more effective.

It’s great if you can speed up onboarding, but it’s even better for the company to eliminate it. Reducing turnover is one way to do that, and instructional design can help. Kesen (2016) found that innovation and training significantly decreased employee turnover in service films in Turkey. In fact, training is so powerful that it can affect other factors. Manager training reduces employees’ likelihood of leaving an organization (Malek, Kline, & DiPietro, 2018). One powerful story of reducing turnover comes from Zappos. Tony Hsieh, the CEO, believes company culture is at the foundation of creating a successful business. He prioritized training and employee development to develop and grow a company culture of transparency, communication, and empowerment. Statista estimates that small companies average 59 hours of training per employee, so retaining employees adds even more value because all those hours of training are retained in expertise.

Enhancing Training Effectiveness

The impact of instructional design on training effectiveness is observable across sectors. It increases engagement and retention, regardless of modality. For instance, Florida International University redesigned 29 online courses as a part of a Quality Matters initiative in 2016 and found improved results in student grades and increased time in the course engaging with content. High-quality training improves performance even when looking at university employees rather than students. A study examining human resources employees at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia found that training positively predicted employee performance (Yimam, 2002). The company wins when employees work with higher quality and more efficiency.

Avoiding Fines and Legal Complications

In industries subject to stringent regulations, instructional design is a crucial tool for compliance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is one of the most widely recognized organizations related to training. Violations of OSHA regulations can carry large fines—up to $156,529 per infraction. Training is frequently a part of the plan to eliminate these violations. Accessibility is another area where violations and lawsuits cause significant financial penalties for organizations. According to WhoisAccessible.com, a web accessibility solution site, multi-million-dollar settlements occurred in the United States recently, and the number of filed lawsuits continues to grow. Providing training to minimize incidents and ensuring that the training provided is fully accessible is imperative to the organization’s financial health.

Conclusion

The proof is in the data. Instructional design is an investment in the organization. Companies can significantly improve efficiency, onboarding speed, employee retention, training effectiveness, and regulatory compliance by tailoring instructional design strategies to specific organizational needs. As businesses embrace instructional design as a strategic investment, they enhance their bottom line and cultivate a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, ensuring sustained success in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Next Steps 

The proof is in the data. Instructional design is an investment in the organization. Companies can significantly improve efficiency, onboarding speed, employee retention, training effectiveness, and regulatory compliance by tailoring instructional design strategies to specific organizational needs. As businesses embrace instructional design as a strategic investment, they enhance their bottom line and cultivate a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, ensuring sustained success in an ever-evolving marketplace.  

Instructional design is something your organization needs, but how and where do you get it? Instructional design is a field that focuses on learning theories, design models, and best practices. Like other specialized fields—plumbers, electricians, lawyers—there are multiple ways to approach a problem.  

DIY, or do-it-yourself, is a great way to learn and grow (I might be writing this while waiting for the paint to dry so I can install the new shelves I built into my kitchen pantry.). Platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, and TikTok have brought DIY enthusiasts together, allowing them to share their knowledge and educate others. However, there are drawbacks to DIY. It can take longer to complete a project than if you were to hire a professional.  

Professionals have a higher level of expertise and can provide a higher quality of work. They have done a particular task hundreds of times, making them faster at reaching the end goal and better at anticipating and solving problems. Faster and better training means increased benefits in performance. Outsourcing to instructional design (ID) professionals works the same way. Hiring an ID professional can result in higher quality products in a shorter time than doing it yourself.  

At eLearningDOC, we are here to help with your outsourcing ID needs. We can support your existing team, design something brand new, or provide guidance if you don’t know where to start. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get the best return on your ID investment. 

REGISTER FOR OUR FREE WEBINAR NOW! 👉 https://bit.ly/3wHaZHM

References

Kesen, M. (2016). The impact of employee training and innovation on turnover intention: An empirical research. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 6(1), 174-185.

Malek, K., Kline, S. F., & DiPietro, R. (2018). The impact of manager training on employee turnover intentions. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, 1(3), 203-219.

Yiman, Mohammed Hassen. (2022). Impact of training on employees’ performance: A case study of Bahir Dar university, Ethiopia. Cogent Education, 9(1), 2107301.

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