Employee training programs should never feel like a waste of time. Despite all the technology available, today’s onboarding can be just as frustrating as those cheesy VHS training tapes from the 1990’s. A well developed employee training program creates huge opportunities for your company, closing skill gaps and motivating workers. Ongoing training can be a reward in itself, preparing future mentors and leaders.
The what, why, and how of employee training programs
What: Workers need to be trained in your company’s policies and procedures. New hires need to know what’s expected for their role. Entry-level workers may need to learn about your industry and related skills. All employee training programs should include a clear plan to reach learning objectives. Avoid unnecessary training in your program, like courses that aren’t relevant to a trainee’s department.
Why: According to the 2023 “Workplace Learning Report” from LinkedIn Learning 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention. “Providing learning opportunities” is the No.1 way organizations are working to improve retention. Employees want to keep growing toward professional goals, and additional training gives them a reason to stay at your company.
Additional training is necessary as roles continue to change with new technology. The same LinkedIn Learning report found that, since 2015, skill sets for jobs have changed by around 25%. Over the next five years, this number is expected to double. Employee training helps your workers keep up to date on changes in your industry.
How: A Learning Management System makes it easy to adapt programs to individual needs. Mix and match orientation courses with department specific material. Track completion of assigned work and make additional training extras available.
Instead of developing all your training material from scratch, you can use a Learning Management System with pre-made courses. An LMS makes it easy to customize training programs for the individual needs and goals of each trainee. Use an LMS to promote meaningful learning.
Common course types and learning styles
New hires and veteran staff need a range of training courses. Self-directed online programs combine many of the best features of pre-recorded training videos and in-person slideshows. Collaboration and certain exercises are easier with in-person training, but a lot depends on the type of training material covered, including:
- Onboarding and orientation
- Safety and compliance
- Technical and soft skills training
- Product and service training
- Culture and diversity training
Adult learners have different needs and priorities when it comes to employee training programs. Visual learners need to see written explanations and pictures. Collaborative and hands-on learners may need in-person practice. Self-directed and self-motivated learners may prefer to complete the training efficiently on their own. Many trainees will benefit from multiple learning channels, including access to related materials through an LMS.
Benefits of employee training programs programs
Increase productivity and adherence to quality standards
Workers need to know what’s expected of them. Training emphasizes “how” and “why” to keep everyone’s attention.
Eliminate weaknesses before they become big problems
Bad habits should be “nipped in the bud” as early as possible. Address common shortcuts and essential skills in orientation training.
Improve employee satisfaction, performance, and retention
New skills and abilities provide a feeling of professional growth and career development.
Stay innovative and competitive
Cross trained teams are more flexible and adaptable in today’s constantly changing marketplace.
Address gaps within the organization
Close skill gaps and keep workers updated on newer software and policy changes.
Create a strong employer value proposition
Robust training opportunities become major incentives to reduce turnover and attract new hires.
Tips for creating engaging employee training programs
Assess current training
How effective is your current training system? Identify goals and learning objectives. Are you using quizzes or performance metrics to judge success? If you don’t have much data, you can assemble a panel of trusted workers and managers for qualitative feedback. Long term staff will know at least a few topics that deserve more emphasis in orientation. Do current workers think that current training courses are inefficient or redundant?
Develop a targeted training and development plan
Each department and role will need access to different training materials. Are you ready to respond to the skill gaps of new hires? Younger generations of workers aren’t always familiar with established software like Excel, but they bring other abilities and insights. Make sure that workers with seniority can continue growing professionally, whether they pursue leadership skills or cross training.
Create engaging materials and courses
A Learning Management System (LMS) makes whole collections of courses accessible. Upskilling with an LMS boosts retention by eliminating the problem of “dead-end jobs.” Your LMS may come with pre-made training sessions on essential topics like harassment and software tutorials. You may need to make your own training materials on unique company policies and procedures, but try to keep them engaging. A mix of pre-made and custom training courses can be planned for new hires in different roles.
Incorporate mentorship and coaching
Employees have different learning styles, and many will benefit from conversations in a mentorship setting. The first days or weeks may include ride-alongs or side-by-side mentorship, but that connection can continue for months afterwards.
Even when they’re working independently, new workers appreciate having a designated mentor to answer questions that arise later. Senior employees also benefit from the opportunity to develop and prove their leadership skills as mentors and coaches.
Collect the right data (reporting & analytics)
It’s getting easier to collect and store data, but it takes planning to focus on useful information. A quality LMS can track course completion and quiz scores, reflecting employee participation and comprehension. When you want a training program to reduce the number of harassment incidents or missed punches, quantitative metrics make it easier to measure the impact of training. Long term trends need to be compared over the course of multiple years.
Evaluate training programs regularly
After each training, a brief quiz can test comprehension and include one or two subjective questions about the course. Did the participants feel like the course was helpful? A change in procedures might suddenly make a training session unnecessary. Training materials from past decades can feel dated, especially with changing social norms around gender and inclusion. New equipment and software changes often mean updating training materials. Whenever it’s time to update your employee handbook, review the related training courses as well.