MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the Answer? Part Two – Retention and T&D



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?  In the first installment of MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the Answer? we looked at determining your target audience and recruitment.  Today we will explore Retention and T&D.  


So you’ve hired a Gen Y worker – now how can you keep them? When Software Advice studied a sample of job applications from 2013 asking the question “What is most important to you in a job”, the top 4 things were:

  1. Salary and Benefits (34%)
  2. Culture and Atmosphere (31%)
  3. Fulfillment and Satisfaction (30%)
  4. Growth and Development (25%)

A SMB is in an ideal position to provide any and all of these top 4 requests.  Cultural misalignment was found to be a top reason why Gen Ys leave a company.

Gen Ys want consistent and ongoing training.  When respondents were asked if they would participate in an employer offered professional development training via a free MOOC, almost 75% of 18-24 year olds and approximately 60% of 24-34 year olds said Yes!

If your employer offered professional development training via a free MOOC, would you participate?

If your employer offered professional development training via a free MOOC, would you participate?


It is interesting to note that about 58% of respondents (18-24) and over 50% of respondents (25-34) said that they would be more likely to stay with an employer if they offered professional development training via a free MOOC.

Gen Y wants table

Considering that Gen Yers will leave a job if the things that are important to them are not meant – and studies have found that many will move on –  at a significant cost to your business, it is in your own best interest to provide great reasons to stay.  A survey conducted by Millenial Branding and found that “87% of companies said it cost $15,000 to $25,000 to replace a departed millennial employee”. That’s a lot of money – of your money and potential profits!

Training and Development

T&D is a part of any good HR plan.  It’s a necessary expense for a business to grow and prosper.  Training must be of high quality and employees must see the value in it.  Technology changes quickly and training needs to keep up with those changes.  MOOCs can provide an opportunity to train your team at a lower cost.

 “CEO says to CFO we need to spend money training our staff.  CFO say what if we spend the money and they leave?CEO says what if we don’t spend it and they stay?” (Author Unknown)

Keeping your team trained and up to date will make them happier and more productive.  Employees who feel like a company invests in them  – especially if they are cross trained for other positions – are generally more efficient, feel more confident and find their jobs more interesting.

By finding the right MOOCs for your business, you can train multiple employees on any number of things – from programming to social media, from proper business communication to marketing and anything else you can think of! Best of all – if there isn’t a MOOC for it today, there could be tomorrow! “Many of the courses that are currently available online through sites like Coursera or edX are theory based academic-style classes. While these are useful for users seeking general knowledge about featured topics, these type of theory based courses are
probably not the best fit for SMBs. However, these sites also often feature skills-based courses that focus on a specific business objective, which would be more useful for SMBs,” explains Erin Osterhaus, HR Researcher at Software Advice.

As more Universities come on board, the number of quality MOOCs are growing.  More training and development groups who would typically have come into your business and trained on Time Management or Selling Techniques are now developing MOOCs to be used and referred to at anytime.  These groups will customize a Learning Management System (LMS) to suit your needs for a large scale training plan or build a single course. Developing an LMS gives you the power to assign classes to specific individuals, see their progress and give you or the instructor a chance to create a dialogue with course participants through forums and chat rooms.

Coming up in our last article on MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the answer for the SMB? we will be looking at Termination and the use of MOOCs in a PIP to improve an underperforming employee.