Can MOOCs Help Improve Employee Acquisition and Retention?

May 29, 2014 | Brendan Cournoyer
Can MOOCs Help Improve Employee Acquisition and Retention?

There’s been a lot of talk about the potential benefits of MOOCs for businesses, such as flexible eLearning, inexpensive course creation, and so on.

But could a MOOC actually help a company attract and keep employees as well? When it comes to the younger generation of workers, the answer could actually be yes.

Related Article: What’s Up with MOOCs? 20 Burning Questions Answered

For a recent report, the folks at Software Advice surveyed nearly 1,500 job seekers in an effort to answer the question, “Can MOOCs Help SMBs Attract and Retain Gen Y Talent?” (You can see the full report here.)

According to the results, more than half of respondents aged 18-24 said access to MOOCs for professional development would have a positive impact on their decision to apply for a position at a company. Nearly 60% of that same group said access to MOOC-based training would increase their interest in staying with a company long-term.

Even more interesting, more than half of 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed said they would utilize a voluntary, company-sponsored MOOC, while older respondents were far less likely to participate.

“I think there are several factors for why Gen Y workers are a great demographic to target with MOOC-based professional development and training,” said Software Advice’s Erin Osterhaus, noting that the ability to retain and develop young talent is a boon for any organization.

“Given that Gen Y workers are inclined to job-hop, these courses could be an inexpensive way to keep these employees engaged and excited about their jobs,” she explained.

Does company size matter?

While the report is focused specifically on small and medium-sized businesses, the same MOOC benefits could easily extend to the enterprise as well – though the circumstances and use cases could be a bit different. For example, larger companies might be less likely to utilize MOOCs for mandatory training programs, instead opting to provide employees with voluntary options for extending their skill sets.

“Enterprise organizations likely already have a standardized set of procedures and training materials, [and are] much less flexible than smaller startups,” explains Erin. She added that in these cases, MOOC training would likely work best if offered as an additional perk for employees to take advantage of if they wished.

Smaller organizations, however, would likely have much more flexibility in how they chose to utilize MOOCs.

“If you’re a small company with limited financial resources—not to mention no designated employee trainer—and your business focuses on the digital space, using MOOCs for mandatory training might make sense,” said Erin. She specifically identified online courses for marketing, HR and web development professionals as potential options for SMBs.

For more details on how MOOCs can potentially affect employee acquisition and retention, check out the detailed report here from Software Advice. 

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Image Credit: Software Advice

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