Employee training and development is one of the most important parts of any business so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 69% of learning and development professionals say both are top priorities in their organizations. And they should be. As many as 59% of employees feel as though the training they received failed to teach them the skills they needed, leading them to train themselves.
Since the performance of employees is linked to business growth, the more effective your training program is, the better chances your company has at achieving success. That’s why it’s so important to provide training programs that help employees shine in their roles.
To help you and your business create a successful employee training program, we reached out to business professionals across industries to hear their insights.
What Is Employee Training and Development?
Employee development often gets lumped in with employee training, but the two are different parts of the employee growth system. Employee development refers to the overall process provided to an employee by the employer to help employees gradually improve skills and acquire knowledge so that they can progress in their careers. Employee training on the other hand refers to programs that are designed to develop and improve technical skills and knowledge needed to do a specific job successfully.
“Both training and development help the employee progress in their overall development,” says Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at HIDE. “The difference is what the skills they learn are being used for. Development is working with employees to help their overall careers while training is giving them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed at each stage.”
Whatever the goal may be, both training programs and development programs can benefit from the same handy tips.
Start with Goals
If you don’t have goals and objectives for your training, it is going to fall flat. “As an employer, you need to define the goals and objectives of the employee’s training itself in the first place,” says Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond. “Ask yourself, ‘how will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?’” Without these clearly defined goals, your program will become aimless and your employees will be left without the needed skills.
Many program builders get distracted by tools and courses before even defining what the goals of the program are. Resist the temptations and ask yourself important questions about why you are considering a training program in the first place and how the tools are going to help employees reach their long-term goals.
Everyone has different skill levels. “You have to take into account everyone’s unique competencies,” says Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder at The Quality Edit. “These include skills, knowledge, and overall behavior that will impact their ability to succeed at their jobs.”
Shannon Kluczny, Chief Customer Officer at BizLibrary echoed this notion, saying, “At the core of any effective training program is correctly identifying who needs to be trained, and on what skills or topics.” Simply put; you need to identify employee needs.
Doing so will allow you to better understand everyone’s skill level so that you can shape customized and personal approaches to learning and training. “Nothing is more frustrating than being forced to sit in a class that you have already passed,” says Brett Estep, COO at Insured Nomads. “It’s a waste of your time and it builds resentment toward the employer. By spending time to understand where people are in their workplace education, you can separate people and put them into training groups based on their skill level.”
Competencies examples include business acumen, customer service, IT, and building effective teams. Identifying which ones your company needs and wants to adopt will make it easier to figure out where employees need to be spending their training. This competency method of training is proven to work. 89% of so-called “best-in-class organizations” define competencies for their roles, compared to 48% of other companies that fail to reach the best-in-class status. What’s more, 100% of the companies on the global top companies list make use of this model.
Remember That Training is an Investment
“Many business leaders see training as a cost to the organization,” says Trey Ferro, CEO at Spot Pet Insurance. “While it will go down as an expense in the beginning it is, on the whole, an investment in your company’s future.”
Well-trained employees make for productive employees. It also makes for happy and satisfied employees. “There are few things at work that are more frustrating than not being able to do your job properly,” adds Benjamin Meskin, President at Cabrella. “Inability to do your job leads to resentment and eventually resignation if the situation doesn’t improve.”
We all know how expensive it is to replace talent. A well-trained workforce will lower your turnover rate and keep performance up; two things that will benefit your bottom line in the long term.
Analyze the Current Situation
You shouldn’t go into the process of creating a successful employee training program blind, says Leo Livshetz, Founder & CEO at UnHide. “Try making use of a gap analysis to see where your employees are right now compared to where you would like them to be.”
The data and information to do a gap analysis is probably something that you already have access to. Talk to your HR department to see if they have files pertaining to standard job descriptions or performance evaluations. Accident and safety reports will help as well. Start there before trying to use tools like employee assessments. Use anything you can to paint a full picture of your staff.
“To get an even more complete understanding of the current situation, consider employee interviews,” Russell Lieberman, Founder & CEO at Altan Insights added. “You need to have conversations with the people who have been through the current process. Ask them about their goals and determine how you can build out your training program to help.”
Employee insights are invaluable to help you fill out the gap analysis findings and find out more about your workforce’s preferences when it comes to training.
Offer More Methods
Once you have locked down the information you need to understand your workforce and where the gaps are, you need to pick out the methods for training. Luckily, there are many to choose from and there’s no limit to how many you can implement.
“The subject matter is just as important as the training method,” says Oliver Zak, CEO and Co-Founder at Mad Rabbit Tattoo. “If you have the budget, you might want to consider offering more than one method since everyone has a different learning style.” Some popular methods include instructor-led training, hands-on training, role-playing learning, online live classes, online on-demand classes, and learning-as-a-service.
Instructor-led training is the most popular as it lets questions be answered on the spot and offers guidance to each employee. Hand-on are conducted on the spot and are great because they give employees training based on the individual needs of the job. Role-playing is a good method for complex roles where it will benefit the employees to work through a circumstance in real-time with lower stakes. Online on-demand classes are increasingly popular in the current climate as they let employees work from home and at their own pace. Lastly, learning-as-a-service is a newer method that combines several methods to help employees address challenges as they happen.
“A mix of these is ideal, but if the budget isn’t there, research what will work best for your team,” responder added. With these tips in mind, you can now plan your own training program and reap the rewards of a well-trained workforce.