In most businesses there is a cycle that alternates between periods of crazy rush, periods of normalcy, and periods of down time.

Companies generally opt for one of two choices during the down time: they either lay off employees (the favored option) or let them stay on and remain idle.

The first option can backfire on a company. The laid off workers seek other employment and may find it, walking away with the skills and training the company has vested them with.

The second option is non-productive and negatively impacts the bottom line. No company owner wants to see workers doing non-essential tasks, and very few can afford it.

Now, more and more companies are entertaining a third option: they encourage employees to engage in eLearning during the downtime. Some insist the employees come to the office; others establish protocols that allow the employees to work half days and study at home for the remainder, or to stay home entirely as long as they show evidence they are completing eLearning courses and gaining new skills and knowledge.

During periods of downtime, which most commonly occur during the beginning of the new year or summer holidays, companies can establish eLearning outlets so employees stay active and productive.

To make the most of eLearning during down times, analyze your company’s present and future needs, most requested skill upgrades by employees, and determine how your current learning data sources measure up. This will give you insight into which eLearning programs need to be updated or developed to make the most out of this down-time initiative.

One innovative manufacturing company encouraged employees to use eLearning to cross-train for a new company position. During rush time, if someone became ill or injured, the pace could be maintained by the worker who had been cross-trained during this time. They combined online courses with on-site mentoring programs for impressive results.

If you embark on eLearning programs during down time, try not to fall into the routine of providing the same thing year after year. Incorporate new technologies such as gamification and Google Glass that allow your employees to enjoy augmented reality, for example.

You might also consider developing Cloud eLearning options that make it easier for your employees to access data from any location at times that are optional for their study.

Companies are not limited to only using eLearning during off season but can integrate eLearning with their daily work as well throughout the year.

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