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Pharmaceutical companies and their employees are doing life-saving work each day to bring cutting edge drugs and therapies to market. But this doesn’t just happen on its own. Behind the scenes, training teams are in large part responsible for these positive outcomes.
According to a study conducted by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), organizations allocate an average of 32.9 hours of training per employee per year. That means a pharma company with 100K employees spends 3.2 million hours training employees each year. That’s 3.2 million hours of productivity sacrificed to ensure workers have the skills necessary to excel in their roles.
The pharmaceutical industry is known for its fast-paced nature, stringent regulations and ever-evolving scientific advancements. While training is necessary in this complex and rapidly evolving industry, many organizations have begun taking a closer look at the real impact their training strategy is having on the business – especially since they allocate so much time and money to build programs and pull employees away from their work to complete them.
This blog explores three pharmaceutical training challenges that organizations are evaluating and how learning technology can help.
Measuring the impact of training programs is essential to ensure their effectiveness and justify investments. But L&D and enablement teams have yet to come to a consensus on the best way to do that.
It is challenging, but there are a couple ways that this can be done. One option, you can measure the impact of your efforts on employees’ knowledge and skills. Before you roll out a training program, conduct a baseline assessment to get a starting point. This will also help you determine which topics and skills you should be focusing on so you don’t waste time, resources and money on training that’s not needed. Once the program has concluded, send out the exact same assessment. Ideally, your learners’ will have improved.
The problem, however, with this method of measurement is that it only tells you what your learners know at one point in time. If you assess knowledge immediately after a classroom training session, your learners are relying on their short-term memory to ace the test. But how much of that material will be remembered a week, a month and even a year out? Science tells us not very much, if any at all.
That’s why knowledge reinforcement must be a component of your training programs. By testing learners on information over time, they are forced to recall what they’ve learned and commit it to long-term memory. Qstream’s microlearning platform, which pushes out bite-sized learning challenges, gives you the data to prove that critical information is understood, remembered and applied on the job over time.
Putting this method into practice might look something like this: You roll out a training program on a new drug you are bringing to market to your sales team. The curriculum consists of two classroom training sessions, an e-learning in your LMS and a microlearning challenge that lasts three months to build knowledge retention of the most important information covered in the program. Once the drug hits the market, compare the microlearning program results to the sales performance of the new drug. If your microlearning program ended up with a proficiency rate of 95%, you could easily make the case that training influenced the reps’ ability to effectively sell the drug. You could also look at individuals who scored exceptionally high and their win rates.
Many of our customers launch Qstreams once a year to confirm that knowledge is being retained. This is another proof point you could take to leadership to demonstrate results. Others say that anecdotal feedback from learners helps make their case. For example, ask those on the frontline about their successes and they’ll likely be able to connect those back to a training program.
There are two key problems at play for learners today: they don’t see the value of training and struggle to find the time to complete it. Fortunately, these challenges go hand in hand and can be solved by making a few key changes.
To keep today’s digital-first learners interested, training must meet their standards. “A multi-modality, blended learning approach is really important in today’s society,” says Tara Leahy, Director, Commercial Training & Development, Daiichi-Sankyo. “Whether we like it or not, our ability to stay focused on one topic, I think, has shrunk exponentially since social media has started, and we really have no choice but to get on that bandwagon.”
In addition to traditional training methods, incorporate interactive elements such as quizzes, competitions, videos and interactive simulations to create an engaging and dynamic learning experience. The gamification available in microlearning platforms today directly addresses the way today’s workers interact with technology while building friendly competition amongst teams and individuals.
According to a 2022 research report, 38% of employees want training that is more relevant to their actual jobs. It’s critical that you build individualized learning experiences – taking into account employees’ roles, skills and career goals – and put learners in the driver’s seat. Give them the ability to self-enroll in training programs and courses that interest them. People are much more likely to buy into learning and actually retain the information when it’s relevant and perceived as useful.
Learning is seen as a check-the-box for many these days. That’s largely due to being pulled from their jobs for hours on end for training that’s one-size-fits all. These training sessions aren’t just compromising employee engagement, but they’re costing your organization hours of productivity – all to share a bunch of information that will most likely go in one ear and out the other, or be forgotten within days.
While some training must be done in bulk, consider swapping other learning activities with shorter microlearning sessions. Microlearning challenges are pushed out to employees directly in their flow of work. It takes about five minutes to answer a few questions, get immediate feedback and return to work. This gives learners the ability to self-assess and seek out additional material on topics they might be struggling with, putting them in control of their own development.
How microlearning content is delivered is the biggest contributor to consistently high learner engagement. Focus not just on the content but how you can serve up microlearning in a convenient and learner-centric way.
What do my learners know right now? That’s another question that training teams have struggled to answer for years. Relying on course completion data, post-training assessments and satisfaction surveys are not enough. These metrics won’t tell you that Sarah didn’t quite understand that one data security process or Sam failed to grasp how to implement that new quality control protocol. Letting these things go unchecked can lead to catastrophic consequences for the entire organization.
Microlearning analytics offer a clear snapshot of what your learners know and don’t know today – whether that’s immediately after an important training session or months down the road. The heat maps in microlearning platforms like Qstream clearly call out topics that need attention on an individual and team level so that critical knowledge gaps can swiftly be corrected. That could be via additional manager coaching, further training or a combination of the two.
Organizations should also consider implementing scenario-based learning to simulate compliance challenges and ethical dilemmas. This gives employees a chance to practice what they’ve learned in a pilot-like setting and correct any mistakes before they are made on the job.