A survey of CEOs found that 80% are worried about the availability of talent with desirable, key skills – and more than half struggle to find competent new talent to fill open roles.
The rapid evolution of new technology – and related skills – make it challenging for organizations to maintain their foothold in the increasingly competitive landscape. On one hand, digital transformation is rendering many technologies and skills permanently obsolete, while increasing the demand for others. On the other hand, the cutthroat competition for finding and recruiting top talent makes it challenging for organizations to retain and hire employees based on their needs and requirements.
These factors make quality employee training crucial for companies that want to maintain a competitive edge, retain their top talent, boost profits, and keep their workforce up-to-date with the latest industry knowledge, skills, and trends.
However, creating a training program isn’t as simple as purchasing courses and mandating attendance and completion. Learning and development (L&D) teams need to thoughtfully craft an L&D strategy to create a collaborative and democratic learning process to efficiently launch an effective employee training program.
If you are struggling to launch your employee training strategy, this guide will take you on the journey of creating a training program for your organization that provides real results.
What is the goal of employee training programs?
Employee training is an ongoing process where organizations facilitate development of their employees to acquire new knowledge and skill sets that are required of them to reach their full potential and optimum performance.
The primary purpose of employee training is to achieve a behavior change or develop a new skill of those trained – enabling them to do their job better.
5 objectives of employee training
Training empowers your employees to be more effective and efficient at their jobs. It improves employee engagement which in turn increases productivity.
Higher employee retention
Conducting continuous training programs in your organization makes your employees feel important and adequately prepared to do their jobs well, leading to higher job satisfaction, lower rates of absenteeism, and increased retention rates.
Smaller skills gap
Employee training programs help organizations bridge any skill gaps, strengthen weak links, and enable internal promotion.
Empowering employees with the knowledge and skills they need helps your company remain competitive in the fast-paced business environment.
Adapt to change
Adaptability in the workplace is a must with digital transformation – and employee training helps support and manage change for organizations introducing new processes and technologies.
4 challenges to creating a successful training program
Some common challenges faced by L&D teams while creating employee training programs:
When introducing a new training program, it is crucial to gain employee buy-in to ensure everyone is on board and completely aware of what is expected of them. Without the buy-in, the impact of your training is diluted and it might become an inconvenience for your employees.
Accurately measuring success
L&D teams need to provide a quantitative assessment of how training programs are impacting the organization.
However, it is challenging and takes a lot of effort to figure out the metrics to use, incorporating them into post-training assessments, following up, and adjusting future training based on the results.
Remote and hybrid workforces
A rise in remote work and a geographically dispersed workforce has introduced new challenges in employee training programs. With a geographically dispersed workforce, employee training is hard to manage because of a lack of face-to-face communication, misunderstandings, cultural differences, time differences, etc.
Balancing L&D training with day-to-day work
Maintaining a satisfactory work-life balance already takes a lot of time and effort from your workforce. Having to spend spare time attending the training sessions makes them resist the training altogether.
7 steps to an effective training program
Now that you know all about the goals and challenges, let’s get to creating the employee training process.
Assess your training needs
Assessing training needs identifies employees’ current level of competency, skill, or knowledge in different areas and compares that competency level to the required competency standard established for their job roles.
The difference between the current and required competencies help determine employee training needs. Training assessments are often conducted after hiring, during performance reviews, for performance improvement, for employee development plans, or during organizational changes.
Here are some steps to get you started on assessing the training needs of employees:
- Skill gap analysis: Identify the gap between the actual and desired knowledge and skills. A skill gap analysis results in a list of skills your employees already have, need to improve, and need to develop. From there, you can fill in the skill gap using training programs to build a team of skilled workers that meet your company’s needs.
- Figure out what employees know: Give employees a chance to show what they know (and identify any gaps) before you start designing your training programs. This information can be collected via questionnaires, surveys, observing employees and examining their work, or conducting formal assessments.
- Talk to your employees: Encourage open communication and feedback with your employees. Ask them if they are lacking any skill sets that could help them do better at their jobs. This helps leaders decide on the right methods of employee training that will be the most effective for each individual employee and learning type.
- Evaluate current training resources: Figure out what training resources are already in place and what needs fine-tuning (or scrapping altogether).
Set training goals and objectives
Employee training needs to have long and short-term measurable outcomes to evaluate their effectiveness. Training goals and objectives make it easier to understand and measure the value training is bringing to your organization.
Employee training objectives define what learners will be able to do at the end of the training. Training goals are not only defined for individuals but also for your company as a whole – how will the training impact the organization? What will it achieve for the business?
Here’s how to create effective, realistic, and measurable objectives for employee training:
- Make the purpose of your training clear: Identify what you want to accomplish with this training – improve employee performance, bridge a knowledge gap, teach new employee skills, etcetera. Whatever the case, make sure that the purpose of training is clear.
- Define expected training outcomes: Training outcomes are the measurable goals employees are expected to achieve at the end of training. When writing down the expected training outcomes, be specific and leave nothing to interpretation.
- Consider different conditions, factors, and variables: Consider different parameters that might affect the design and delivery of your training program. For instance, the availability of a qualified instructor or venue, your budget, training timelines, prerequisites such as baseline knowledge of a subject or familiarity with a skill to join a course.
- Align training objectives with business goals: The fundamental goal of training is to produce business results. An effective and relevant training program must align with business goals.
- Write SMART goals: The SMART format is the go-to-standard when it comes to setting training goals.
- S – Specific: Training goals need to be specific and narrow
- M – Measurable: Learning outcomes need to be measurable
- A – Attainable: Training objectives are realistic given the required amount of time and resources
- R – Relevant: Your training goals answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for learners
- T – Time-bound: The goals need to have a deadline
Invest in training technology
Manually creating individual training programs that align with your employees’ training goals is time – consuming and inefficient – and if your company has over 100 people, likely impossible.
A digital adoption platform (DAP) is an employee training solution that integrates with digital tools to provide automated, personalized training in the flow of work. DAPs assign each learner a contextual task list containing interactive walkthroughs and other in-app content based on the learner’s profile.
Walkthroughs are a series of step-by-step prompts that show users how to complete a certain process by guiding them through each step, showing them relevant training videos, or providing informative articles.
DAPs work hand-in-hand with learning management systems (LMSs) and eLearning software like xAPI and SCORM for you to track learners’ progress and build more relevant content in the future.
- Learning Management System:
LMS provides personalized learning paths for both mandatory and non-mandatory courses based on that employee’s actions taken within the LMS.
Corporate LMS solutions track what courses your employees commonly access and complete within the LMS database, as well as suggest similar courses that the employee might be interested in.
It’s a completely automated process that requires little time investment from your L&D team outside of the initial setup and content creation.
Choose the employee training method
To find the employee training method that works best for your workforce, L&D teams need to understand the different employee learning styles of their workforce and build personalized flows for different learning styles.
There are also other factors as well that influence the choice of your training delivery method. For instance, for smaller companies in-person training is more cost effective, whereas larger enterprises or distributed companies might benefit from online self-paced training that require less coordination.
Some of the employee training methods are:
- eLearning enables employees to learn in the comfort of their homes, according to their individual learning styles and needs.
- On-the-job training enables active participation for employees by allowing them to learn in the flow of work.
- Instructor-led training is a face-to-face learning style that mimics physical classroom spaces with an instructor present to lead the training session.
- Coaching involves an experienced professional – a supervisor, mentor, or veteran employee – who mentors or coaches an employee on specific job tasks and responsibilities.
- Simulation training lays out different scenarios that allow employees to practice tasks that mimic the actual work of their specific job’s role.
- Video training engages employees and delivers sophisticated learning experiences at a lower cost than traditional training.
Develop training materials
While developing your training content, start with a detailed outline to make the writing process easier and organize your information in a way that best serves your trainees.
There are many ways to organize training materials but a job or task-based system works the best. For example, a process documentation on a sales process can be organized as:
Once you have your training goals, a plan for delivery, and a detailed outline, you can start creating your training content. A variety of training materials should be created using different tools such as:
- Word, Excel and PDF documents to create handouts for employees
- Powerpoint decks for in-class projections
- Flip-charts, posters, transparencies, and/or computer-generated graphics to present visual materials
- eLearning SCORM authoring tools to create computer-based eLearning modules.
When designing training materials or modules, focus on the learning needs of the employees. A few tips for designing your training materials are:
- Develop your materials in a way that puts employees in control of their learning
- Include interactive elements to engage employees
- Invite feedback throughout the training
- Approach each topic chronologically
- Present information in an immersive, emotive and engaging way
- Make conversational videos for video training
- Avoid being too wordy while creating a written training manual
Implement your employee training program
The implementation phase is where your training program comes to life. Program implementation needs to consider employee engagement and learning KPI goals, as well as should plan the scheduling of training activities and other related resources such as providing equipment and training material, creating assessments, etcetera.
Then you’re ready to launch the training program and can begin to be promoted across your organization. The progress of individual participants should be monitored during training to ensure the effectiveness of the program and prevent any hiccups or failures.
Evaluate and monitor your employee training program
In the end, the entire training program is evaluated to determine if it was successful and met the objectives. Feedback is obtained from all stakeholders to determine training effectiveness and knowledge or skill acquisition.
Consider using the following metrics to measure your training effectiveness:
- Employee feedback
Post-training employee feedback helps determine whether or not the training helped, learned new things, what their overall opinions or suggestions are, and more. Employee feedback can be conducted via interviews or anonymous online surveys.
- Knowledge gained from training
Tests, quizzes or demonstrations help evaluate the learnings gained by employees after the training sessions.
- Post-training job proficiency
Observe your employees to figure out whether or not they are using the new knowledge in their day-to-day tasks.
- Data analytics
Use your training software’s data analytics dashboard to determine how your employees are interacting with, how many times they interacted with the course, the average course completion rate, and where employees are dropping off.
With a DAP’s analytics dashboard, for example, you can track which courses your employees are interacting with, how many times they interacted with the course, the average course completion rate, and where employees are dropping off.
Based on those numbers, you can infer which courses are most effective or ineffective, useful, interesting, or confusing.
- Quantifiable business results
After a month or a quarter, analyze your training results by determining whether the training corresponds with a rise in revenue, a decrease in costs, changes in employee productivity, etcetera.
If you’re wondering where to start
If you’re confused about where to start, there is one simple step you can take right now – adopt a Digital Adoption Platform. A digital adoption platform enables learning via interactive walkthroughs, videos, and self-help menus and allows you to train employees on demand while providing insights to measure training effectiveness.
Whatfix DAP enables you to create scalable employee training flows built directly into your website or enterprise applications – allowing employees to learn in the flow of work. It provides segmented, contextual training and development self-help resources to employees in the moment of need, with analytics to measure and improve your training processes.
Disha Gupta is a Product Marketing Consultant of Whatfix, a Digital Adoption Solution that disrupts Application Training, Learning, and Support content by providing Contextual, Interactive, Real-Time, and Autonomous user guidance-driving additional adoption and productivity gains. Whatfix has a proven record of increasing employee productivity by 35%, reducing training time and costs by 60%, reducing employee case tickets by 50%, and increasing application data accuracy by 20%.
Whatfix is based in San Jose, San Francisco, Bangalore, London, and Melbourne.