MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the answer for the SMB? Part One



Pronunciation: /mo͞ok/ NOUN
  • A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people:anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up

SMBs can face many challenges.  Creating business plans. Entering the world of Social Media.  Actually leaving work at the end of the business day.

Often times, those challenges are HR based.  Recruitment.  Retention.  Training & Development. Termination.  Each of those challenges are expensive, time consuming but extremely valuable.  What is a SMB owner to do?  We will be reviewing each of these challenges over the next week in this series on MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the Answer?

Determine your Target Audience

One key element for success would be identifying your target group of potential employees.  Are your available positions internships or entry level?  Are you a start up company?  Do you need employees with the most up to date education and training?  If so, you are looking for a Gen Y worker.  Which is great – because they are looking for you!

Most of Gen Y isn’t working for large companies. The highest concentration of Gen Y workers are at small companies with less than 100 employees (47%), followed by medium companies that have between 100 and no more than 1,500 employees (30%), and the fewest work in large companies with more than 1,500 employees (23%). “ (Payscale and Millennial Branding, 2012)

Various studies have shown that Gen Ys want to work for SMBs as a way to be a part of something.  They want to belong and make a difference.  You want them to belong and make a difference.  They want a challenge.  You have opportunities galore! So…how do you make the match?


When you are recruiting for an available position, clearly define the job and the benefits.  Benefits do not have to be expensive – casual dress, flexible schedules, staff social events or opportunities for training and development.  According to Software Advice, their study of 1,500 job seekers showed that over 50% of 18-24 year olds said access to MOOCs for professional development and training would positively impact their decision to apply at a company.

“I had my suspicions that younger workers might be more receptive to the use of MOOCs in the workplace, so this study more or less confirmed those suspicions,” says Erin Osterhaus, HR Researcher at Software Advice.  “Given the results of the survey, I think MOOCs present employers with an excellent and inexpensive opportunity to incentivize workers—younger workers especially—to apply to their companies in the first place. Employers seeking to leverage MOOCs in the recruitment process should be sure to emphasize access to these sorts of training materials on all their recruiting collateral, e.g. listing access to MOOCs as a perk offered by the company on their careers page, as well as within each and every individual job listing,”

As a job seeker, if a company offered professional development training via a free Massive Open Online Course, would you be more likely to apply?

As a job seeker, if a company offered professional development training via a free Massive Open Online Course, would you be more likely to apply?

Given that MOOCs, by definition are free (or at least low cost), providing opportunities on the clock for your employees to improve and update their skillset makes a lot of sense.  It’s a great ROI – Low Cost and High Return.  Imagine training an employee about Ruby on Rails for $0-$200 (not including their hourly rate) online in MOOCs or paying $900-$2000 for the same type of training in a classroom – which may also involve travel, hotel and meal expenses (costs not included).  For a budget conscious SMB, MOOCs could provide a great alternative to traditional, expensive training options.

When recruiting the best and brightest young minds available, it is in the SMBs best interest to advertise that they offer opportunities for T&D – and to consider MOOCs as a viable form of development.

Watch for our next article in the series which will cover retention and T&D – can MOOCs help you provide the necessary training to keep your staff up to date and satisfied?