Blended Self-Paced Learning Spells Effective Training for Millennials


Your people are your most important asset. Knowledgeable employees will improve your bottom line. Providing employees adequate training to successfully run your IRA, health saving account (HSA), and Coverdell education savings account (ESA) programs can be difficult because of time constraints, budget, and effective training methods. This is where self-paced training may be a solution. 

A well-planned training program will prove effective, time efficient, and will increase your profitability. If you have only a few employees that need training, a self-paced training program that includes eLearning, online training programs, and a variety of compliance publications and materials may be ideal. But if you have a large group with similar training objectives, an organized training that blends the self-paced training tools with formal instruction might save you time.

Training Plan

When determining your most effective training plan, first answer these questions.

  • How many employees need the training?
  • Are employees in one location or in field offices at various locations?
  • What are the training objectives?
  • What is your anticipated timeline?
  • What is your training budget?
  • What training resources are available?

Learning Styles of Millennials

Many financial organizations are starting to feel staff turnover increasing as baby boomers retire and millennials move in. The training methods that have worked in the past may not be as effective on this new group of employees. While baby boomers were accustom to formal classroom training, millennials—generally those born from 1981-1996—prefer a less formal training curriculum. They have grown up with multimedia, are good multitaskers, and prefer a broad spectrum of learning resources.

Various studies have proven, however, that adults in all of the age groups may fit into different learning styles. The key learning styles that most studies identify are visual learning (seeing), auditory learning (hearing), and kinesthetic learning (hands-on tasks). Education professionals agree that a blended learning platform can support this variety of learning styles.

Blended Learning

To meet the training needs for new millennium hires and continued education for your experienced staff, self-paced learning tools and technology-based training should be incorporated into all training programs. Blended learning programs use the best delivery methods available for a specific learning objective, with a blend of online learning programs, books and resources, and optionally, traditional teaching. 

Blended training can be customized based on an individual's preferred learning style, or can be one curriculum that includes enough variety to satisfy the needs of all learning styles. It may include webinars or videos to satisfy auditory learners, and eLearning and other online resources to provide the visual learning appeal. Add to this a variety of practice aids, quizzes, and exams that satisfy the need for kinesthetic learners. 


Self-Paced Training

Using a variety of blended learning tools, you should develop a self-paced curriculum that includes

  • your financial organization’s policies and procedures, 
  • basic IRA or HSA compliance rules, and 
  • advanced subjects to help employees achieve a higher level of compliance knowledge. 

A self-paced training program incorporates learning methods that allow the students some control over the time, pace, and place for their education. 

Time: Training resources used for most self-paced training are not administered on real-time, and thus, can be accessed at any time. Individuals can train at times that their schedules permit. If you have several new employees needing the same training, blending self-paced training resources with traditional training might be cost effective and won’t be a drain on your business needs.  

Pace: Self-paced training is just that—it is self-paced. Employees can focus on work and customer priorities as needed, and access the learning modules and resources at their own pace. They also can repeat the particular topic until they have mastered the concepts before moving on. Various studies on memory support a “forgetting curve” theory developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, which reveals that people forget about half of what they learn within the first few days or weeks. Repeating a training module a second time greatly improves retention.

Place: Another advantage on blended self-paced training is that employees can access the training anywhere with Internet access or can bring the offline resources with them. They can train at the office, use their home computers, or take iPads and their cell phones with them to their favorite coffee shop or the airport when on business travel.




Motivation and Rewards

Motivation factors can be a barrier to learning as well. Don’t forget to reward employees for successful training. Typical motivators for adult learners are promotions, wage increases, and a need to adapt to job changes. One potential goal for employees who work in IRA and HSA programs that supports all of these motivating factors is professional development. Working towards industry certifications, such as the Certified IRA Professional (CIP), Certified IRA Services Professional (CISP) and Certified HSA Services Professional (CHSP), will build self-confidence and set the tone for employee tenure.

Ascensus® Self-Paced Learning Resources

Ascensus® offers extensive IRA and HSA training curriculum catering to distance learning and consumer education. Distance learning programs offer broad-based IRA education and training delivered anytime anywhere, and encompasses a variety of technology-based learning formats with varying time commitment. The consumer education tools, available online and in print, teach your clients about IRA and HSA concepts to help them make important retirement and savings decisions. 

Here are a few training options that support self-paced learning, but there is more. Check with an Ascensus associate at 800-346-3860, option 2, suboption 1, for more information, or review the training opportunities at (elect "online" as Location).

  • IRA Essentials OnDemand is a solution for those who need an introduction to IRAs, but cannot attend a face-to-face training session. IRA reference materials, job aids, quizzes, and videos blend together to create an immersive educational experience. 
  • IRA & HSA University provide blended learning experience by combining weekly webinars with self-paced eLearning modules and access to convenient reference material. Ascensus’ university programs are spread over a 5-6 week timeframe allowing attendees the flexibility to complete all the required course work at their own pace, and attend live weekly webinars or download them on-demand so they can prepare for the certification exams.
  • eResource Center is an in-depth, informative online reference library that includes easy to understand IRA, HSA, Coverdell ESA, and retirement plan publications to help financial organization staff stay current on the latest compliance changes and trends. 
  • IRA Fact Book and Desktop Guides include a variety of quick Q&A references, ideal for frontline staff, about IRAs and IRA-based retirement plans. 
Bryan Loomis