In-Person Workshops, Webinars or Online Training: How to Choose What’s Best for Your Team’s Mental Health Training
The way in which you deliver training content is often as important as the content itself for your employees.
How you deliver your mental health training can be just as important as the content itself. There are many factors to consider when debating what will best suit your team. For example, consider the nature of your workplace. If your workers aren't set up in desk-centric workstations, how will they access online training? Will you provide iPads in the break room or a mobile app? And, if you opt for face to face training, what will that look like in terms of logistics? Where will the classroom be located, who will attend and when? Will you contract workshop speakers or go with in-house facilitators? What will the process be if someone misses a scheduled training session?
To help you decide which option would be most beneficial for your team, here are just a few things you should consider when setting up your mental health training.
Traditional eLearning provides a series of online modules followed by a test, but a growing number of vendors are offering bite-sized learning that can be completed in 15 minutes or less and can be integrated on a daily basis into the regular workday. This has the advantage of not interrupting the workflow and is a better fit for desk-less or shift workers, as well as employees who work remotely. You want your mental health training to reach everyone, but it can be heavy subject matter, so you will also want it delivered in a format that is digestible. (Learn more in Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace). Traditional eLearning works best with knowledge-based mental health training that can be paced to suit the learner.
- Costs are confined to creating content. There are no additional costs for speakers and presenters.
- Game-based learning, videos, and knowledge checks can make eLearning a more engaging experience.
- Ample Review and Follow-Up Opportunities
- Rather than the one and done model of face to face learning, eLearning can be made available after learning is complete for the purposes of review or follow-up. New technologies are creating environments that make it easier to keep the conversation going after the learning is complete via discussions or live chats.
- Can Be Completed Anywhere and Anytime
- Modern technologies, such as mobile learning, are creating an environment where online learning can be delivered anywhere, anytime. Some vendors are using artificial intelligence and game-based learning to automatically gauge a learner’s grasp of knowledge and offer ongoing remediation and review of information and skills.
- eLearning ensures consistency in delivery and messaging that might not be achieved in larger organizations where a variety of presenters might be leading workshops.
- Suited for repetitive types of content or content suited to a video format
- This particular method of delivery can be very well suited to content where video components would help clarify things for individuals consuming the content.
- Can easily be scaled for use with small groups or delivered company-wide.
- The level of autonomy available in eLearning might work well for diverse populations who might not be comfortable discussing some topics in person, but still need access to information and assistance.
- High Set-up Costs
- eLearning can be expensive and time-consuming to set up initially. Modules and even bite-sized learning must be written by individuals or teams that are experts in mental health training and knowledgeable about curriculum creation. You will either have to hire a curriculum writer or free up someone on staff to do the work. You will also have to purchase access to a platform or software to host your eLearning.
- Steep Learning Curve
- The learning curve for eLearning can be steep, particularly for people who are not comfortable with technology. Your staff may have to learn new software or learn to navigate a new site. There may be glitches in systems, and you need to be ready for them.
- Impersonal/Limited Engagement
- Discussion exists in an eLearning environment, but it is often not as free-flowing as in-person discussions. There is less opportunity for the sharing of personal experiences or anecdotes, or for personal interaction, all of which can create relevancy and enrich mental health training.
- Limited Communication
- There is no opportunity for non-verbal communication in this training method, which can provide critical cues in mental health training and simulations. There is also limited opportunity for user feedback, therefore limited means for evaluation or accommodation/adjustment of learning to suit user needs.
Face to Face Learning
Face to face learning, or in-person learning, is generally classroom-based and involves smaller groups lead by a facilitator or trainer. Content that involves role-playing, collaboration, discussion and even problem solving often works better in a classroom setting.
- Accommodates Ambiguity
- Mental health training may include numerous “grey areas” where there is no definitive right or wrong answer. These kinds of questions or scenarios can benefit from a live trainer who can respond to questions and help clarify the content as it's being delivered.
- A live trainer is also more appropriate for mental health topics that might foster questions that require complex answers.
- Some content requires a physical setting. Role-playing and simulations, which can be an important part of mental health training, are far better served by in an in-person format.
- In-person training is perfect for learning that involves interaction, team bonding and/or non-verbal communication.
- Team Building
- Done well, classroom learning can facilitate team building, community, and company culture, all of which can help support mental health training efforts in your workplace.
- High Cost
- Face to face learning can be expensive. Facilitators and speakers need to be hired and your workers will need to be given time to attend.
- Limited Opportunity For Follow-Up Or Review
- Due to the expense and logistics of arranging face to face sessions, they tend to be offered once with little opportunity for follow-up or review. So, if an employee doesn't quite grasp something during the training, they may not have the chance to improve their knowledge.
- Limited Scalability
- This type of training can be challenging and expensive to scale to large groups.
- It can be difficult to coordinate and schedule face to face training, particularly when you’re dealing with large groups of people who may live in different areas or even in different time zones.
- Messaging can vary and is difficult to control, particularly when face-to-face learning is offered by different trainers in different areas or via a train the trainer approach.
- Limited Feedback
- Feedback can be limited in the face to face classroom.
Webinars are online meetings that are generally offered synchronously, where most attendees will participate at the same time through a third-party host. A host or speaker delivers the training. Participants are able to view the speaker and presentation software, such as PowerPoint, on their computer screens and are able to ask questions either live through microphones or via a chat pod. Due to the technical nature of webinars, they work best with desk-bound staff who already have access to computers and audio equipment such as headphones or speakers.
- Webinars are relatively inexpensive to launch. There is no need for workers to travel and they can attend from their desks or wherever there is access to a computer set-up.
- Webinars can be scaled to fairly large audiences. Some webinar software is capable of hosting up to 1000 people.
- Ease of Access
- Webinars eliminate geographical challenges and since they can be recorded, workers unable to attend can watch the non-live version at their leisure.
- The webinars are scheduled to run at a specific time, and all participants must log in at the same time. Most webinars do offer the option to watch a recorded version at a later time, but that does not offer the same interaction as the live feed.
- Webinars offer only limited opportunity for interaction between participants and between participants and the trainer. They tend to be clunky or limited in terms of delivery as they often rely on a chat pod or on the more chaotic approach of allowing all participants access to a live mic. This format does little to encourage questions, despite good intentions, and can be a problem for workers who may need help or additional information.
- The trainer sets the pace. This means there is generally no opportunity to pause, slow down or speed up learning, which can be an issue for complex topics such as mental health training. There isn't usually much built in time to expand upon aspects of the presentation if necessary.
- Trainers have little control over the learners. For example, you cannot guarantee that participants are fully attentive and listening to the speaker, or simply surfing the web.
- There are few opportunities in a webinar format to measure learning or understanding.
Blended learning, an option that combines both eLearning and face-to-face learning, is an expensive option but it does ensure your mental health training is delivered thoroughly, consistently and reaches everyone. If you find there are aspects of both types of learning that you thing would suit your employees, this approach may help deliver the most comprehensive training.
What's Right For Your Employees?
Assess your workplace carefully before deciding the best method of delivery for your mental health training. Costs are an obvious factor, but also take into consideration the substance of your training and the nature of your workplace and workforce.
Written by Jennifer Crump
Jennifer Crump is a former freelance journalist and author and now full-time content writer and strategist. She contributes to magazines and blogs throughout North America on issues related to business, training, financing and workplace safety.