Employee training is one of the most important parts of developing a thriving workforce.
This article will help you establish a more effective training program and set your employees (and your organization) up for success.
You will learn how to improve employee training and use best practices to increase productivity and work quality.
- What is employee training?
- Why employee development is so important in 2021 and post-pandemic times
- Employee training best practices
- Employee training plan template
What is employee training?
Employee training is a process wherein employees are taught the skills and processes necessary to complete their jobs. This can include the job as a whole, or specific tasks and aspects related to their job in question.
The goal of employee training is to create structured learning that allows employees to succeed in their roles.
On the other hand, employee development focuses not only on a single job or role but rather on more holistic development for the big picture.
Why employee development is so important in 2021 and post-pandemic times
As in-person work took a sharp downturn during the pandemic, more and more workers transitioned to new roles or working from home.
Because so many employees have had to change their roles, it means they can’t rely on the same standard set of skills they did before the pandemic. As a result, it also means that employees have had to learn new skills to maintain a position (albeit a different one) within the same company.
Hiring new employees takes a greater amount of time, money, and investment of other resources. Keeping the same employees benefits the staff as well as the organization.
While time and effort are required, it’s significantly less than that required to hire and train new employees.
Employee training best practices
1. Create a plan
Every good training program begins with a plan. Later on, you can modify the plan where needed, but you need a plan to start with.
This plan should include the main objectives of the program (what skills employees should learn), what resources and materials you will need, and the timeline in which you expect to complete the program.
2. Tailor programs for different roles
While all new employees might need general training on company policy, they also need programs to train them for their specific roles.
If possible, you may be able to combine these training programs. However, each department needs training for the specific jobs within it.
3. Use appropriate resources
Different jobs have different types of training that are more effective for those roles.
At some point, you will need to use some more traditional training methods, and provide employees with the documentation they can refer to later.
However, some jobs are more hands-on, and in these cases, allowing employees to do some on-the-job training can be more effective.
4. Follow up after training
After the training program is complete, employees can lose some of their knowledge.
It’s important to help employees maintain their memory of the training by small refresher courses (such as microlearning, which you can see in our guide), adding documents for reference, or even personally checking in to make sure they don’t have any additional questions or knowledge gaps.
Employee training plan template
As we discussed, having a general plan for training employees is important.
First, you need to create that general training plan (generic plans for training employees in any sort of role), which you can also use as a sort of template for further training if needed.
However, because each job has different responsibilities, this training can even be tailored to specific employees or certain situations employees may encounter.
1. Identify the type of training you need
Before you create an end goal for your training, you need to know what type of training you need to implement.
In many cases, you will know who needs training and what type of training is needed. If you’re not in direct contact with employees regularly, check with department heads for feedback that can guide you to decide which employees in particular need training.
For some cases, you will need to evaluate your employees or assess their skills. This can even include annual or bi-annual performance reviews and assessments.
We recommend using a skills matrix. It can really help you track employees’ skills and find gaps in their development.
Type of employee training
While there are more types than those listed below, these are the most common types you’ll encounter:
- Onboarding training (for new employees)
- Upskilling (Competence and skill training)
- Compliance training (including safety and regulations)
- Leadership training
- Corporate training
- Diversity & inclusion training
- Resilience training
2. Identify the goal
With your type of training in mind, you can now define the ultimate goal of your employee training.
Questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Is this training to learn a new task?
- Will the employee take on a new role?
- Is this knowledge the employee doesn’t have?
Depending on the type of training you need, your end goal will be much different. Onboarding training helps new employees get acquainted with their work more quickly.
Leadership training fills in knowledge gaps, which allows employees to take on greater responsibilities.
Resilience training can help employees learn to problem solve, while diversity training helps foster a more equitable and harmonious workplace.
Corporate training comes from the top of the company and defines policies that all offices must go by, while compliance training may show employees how to safely work with new materials or equipment related to their roles.
Reskilling and upskilling may have goals to teach employees new skills to elevate or change their roles within the company.
3. Choose the training methods
Employers have no shortage of training methods to choose from, as you can see from our guide on employee development methods.
Whether you’re training new employees or reskilling current employees for new roles, you can use many of the same methods and even materials where appropriate.
Common training methods include on-the-job training (where employees learn while shadowing an experienced coworker), workshops where employees can learn and collaborate together, and even online training courses.
Employees can also go through training with simulations that mock situations they will encounter in their roles, or be coached/mentored by an experienced employee with extensive knowledge of the job.
Here are some examples to help give you ideas:
As an expanding construction company grows, they require more training for the new employees to smooth the onboarding process.
These new employees are all put through general onboarding training to get acquainted with company policies, processes, and equipment, as well as safety and compliance policies.
In addition, the new employees go through several weeks of on-the-job training, shadowing the experienced personnel, and learning to complete small tasks on their own.
A company that sells software is looking to enhance the sales people’s skills, and help them learn about new products.
To train these sales people, the company sends them to a conference where they can all simultaneously learn about new products that will be available soon, and how to best promote all the features of both new and current products.
An international marketing agency with offices in different countries planned diversity training for their employees to make sure that they have a harmonious, productive workplace.
This company places a high level of importance on valuing other people’s customs and cultures. They want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable at work and can perform at their best.
Based on the training needs and chosen methods you will need to allocate a budget for your training program implementation.
This will include paying trainers, paying to set aside a place to host a workshop or seminar, and paying for any additional resources you need (which can include everything from paper and ink to print materials to extra educational programs). It can also include the cost of learning platforms and additional resources needed for the training.
5. Execution stage
Now when you have all the parts of the puzzle, you need to execute the training plan.
This is where it all comes together from your general plan, to your specific plan, to your budgeting, to getting employees into the program itself.
At the beginning of the execution stage, you can learn a lot about how your program is working. However, it’s also a good idea to let the program continue as long as there are no major issues, and correct things when needed.
You’ll have time to assess the training program overall after the execution stage is complete and employees are getting situated in their roles or new responsibilities.
6. Evaluate the effectiveness of training
While every company needs a training program, it does little good if the training program isn’t very effective.
This is why it’s important to review your training programs and see what’s working and what isn’t. Then, you can keep the effective portions, and change the ineffective portions to another method that may work better.
One of the hardest parts of evaluating your training program is figuring out how you’ll objectively assess the training to see if it’s working.
This is where learning analytics is the most useful. Essentially, learning analytics is where you collect information about learning, analyze that information, and create a report about it to help you enhance the learning process.
The main types of learning analysis include:
Some employers prefer to use a simple rubric or questionnaire to review learning. However, each of these methods for learning analysis follows a specific regimen to create reports and show results that give you a clear direction for moving forward.