Employee training can mean many things. It can mean specific types of training—like new hire orientation, compliance training, management training—but at its simplest definition, it’s training designed to improve the performance of employees within an organization by increasing skills, knowledge, and efficiency.
Companies with quality employee training programs show increased employee engagement and retention and are more productive workplaces, which ultimately positively affects an organization’s bottom line.
Making sure your organization offers top-tier training can sometimes seem like a daunting task. You may have budgetary constraints to work within. You may also have to convince management of the value of good training. Finally, you may need to educate your key stakeholders about what constitutes “good” employee training.
Effective employee training never relies on a single exposure to training. Because retention declines rapidly over the days following training, it’s important to give learners multiple opportunities to remember and practice what they learned. You might do this by providing eLearning modules and exercises, followed up by instructor-led courses, and then reinforced by ongoing support using an online help center with instructions and reference materials that the learner can use on the job.
Secondly, you might want to consider ways to leverage the 70-20-10 model, which posits that:
Applying this model, you will want to consider how to leverage the job-related experiences and human interactions that your team members have in order to increase their momentum on their paths to mastery.
Use design thinking to improve your training program.
To take your training program to the next level, think about the employees. Who is the audience for a given training initiative? What are their needs, wants, frustrations, strengths, weaknesses? And how can you create training that will help them get what they need and want? Take the time to get to know them through surveys and interviews so you can adjust training accordingly.
Consider what you need to measure.
Many LMS systems today allow organizations to take all sorts of metrics related to training and performance. But gathering data that is never used is a waste of time and money. Data is best used for evaluating the success of your training initiative, and then making improvements based on your findings.
The term “testing” can induce anxiety among many learners, so think carefully before you institute testing as part of your training plan. In some cases, it’s imperative; for example, if an employee must perform dangerous tasks, or when the outcomes of their actions have a major impact on the business or the team. But otherwise, if there isn’t a compelling reason to “test,” you might want to find other ways to evaluate your learners. Characterizing the activity as more of a self-evaluation or “knowledge check” may take some pressure off the learners and allow them to partner with the trainers to achieve your (and their) learning objectives.
Design training to build skills and behaviors, not knowledge.
Of course, your staff needs to know things to do their jobs. But it helps to reframe the question, “What do they need to know?” in a better way. Instead, consider, “What do they need to do?” This mindset will not only help you build a skilled workforce, but it will also help you to develop more engaging action-based training instead of lecture-based presentations. By focusing on the tasks or actions learners will perform, you are providing them with experiential “hooks” on which to hang the information that will help them perform the task correctly.
Recognize that learners will need reference materials.
There are always subject matter experts that would like to bombard the learner with everything they “need” to know about a given topic at one sitting. Please avoid this firehose method of training. Generally, learners can only absorb three objectives in a given training module. For this reason, you should think carefully about what information to include in the training, and what information to provide as reference material that learners can find when they’re out in the real world.
Repetition is king.
Instead of a “one-and-done” training session, it is much more effective to give learners many opportunities to learn. For example, follow up new system training with a series of exercises that learners can perform when they are back on the job. These could be programmed as eLearning modules, scored using your LMS system, and then be available when the learner needs help. Then you can provide coaching or follow-up sessions during which learners can ask questions that arise based on what they practiced. Each of these interactions reinforces key processes and information. Further, the staff member is more likely to retain the information you’ve provided because they now have context in which to frame the new data.