- A comprehensive employee training programme can help to achieve organisational objectives.
- Planning is key – from building strong foundations with a training needs analysis to getting cross organisational buy-in.
- Training can take many different forms – make sure you choose the right content and delivery method to ensure your training meets the needs of individuals, teams and ultimately, your organisational aims and objectives.
The importance of planning employee training
Having a well trained workforce is the foundation to every successful business or organisation. It can help improve productivity and efficiency, as well as attract and retain valued and highly motivated employees. But to keep everyone working at the top of their game, organisations must commit to investing time and budget to develop and deliver a comprehensive employee training programme. This can seem a daunting prospect, but there are some key steps that you can take to plan and implement a winning programme that will have a transformative impact on your employees and organisation’s performance.
Assessing Training Needs
The starting point for any training programme should be to assess the training needs of individuals and teams across your organisation. Don’t base this on preconceived assumptions; undertaking a skills gap analysis will provide a strong, evidence-based foundation for building a training programme. By doing this, you will gain an accurate picture of the skills required by all your employees to effectively carry out their jobs and meet overall organisational goals – and where there may be gaps where training interventions are required.
Your skills gap analysis should be a truly inclusive exercise, looking at both individual and team skills. Remember – it’s not just about the skills required today, you should also factor in your organisation’s long term strategic goals and potential changes to working practices and technologies to ensure your training programme reflects future needs.
Define Goals & Objective of Training
Developing a clear set of goals and objectives will help to frame your training programme and give you focus on key priorities. These should be aligned with key organisational and team goals, such as improving productivity and sustainability, underpinning change management, to improve safety and reducing the number of accidents or to effectively introduce new technologies and equipment.
In addition to the bigger picture, you also need to take into account the individual employee’s goals and objectives, such as preparing them for a new role, improving proficiency in specific tasks or learning new skills to adapt to changes in working practices.
For objectives to be truly impactful they need to be both achievable and measurable, so that success can be easily measured, and changes made when needed.
Assess Resources Available for Training
For any business, setting a realistic budget – and keeping to it is crucial. Proposing an inflated budget for your training programme may stop your plan in its tracks, as it isn’t necessarily viable for many businesses. What’s more, a big budget isn’t going to guarantee the results that your employees and business need.
As part of your planning process, don’t forget to audit the existing useful resources that you may already have to hand, including:
- Existing training courses and materials. From written documents to video content and immersive experiences, chances are your organisation collectively has a wealth of great and relevant content that can be shared or repurposed.
- In house knowledge. Remember that skills gaps don’t always need to be addressed through formal training sessions; think about how your employees can share their expertise with others through internal mentoring and coaching.
- Freely available, online courses through websites such as FutureLearn or the Open University’s. OpenLearn. It’s also worth exploring the potential of LinkedIn Learning through its free, one month trial.
Make Sure You Get Management Buy In
From your C-level team through to operational line managers, getting management support throughout your organisation is needed for the introduction of any training provision to succeed. This is crucial for:
Getting budget approval
Regardless of whether you are introducing a low cost, off-the-shelf course or a bespoke, personalised programme, there will always be a cost associated with training. Direct costs can include course design, purchase of software and hardware, as well as trainer, and off-site venue costs to deliver sessions. There’s also the indirect cost of taking employees away from their day job to consider, as well as potential travel and accommodation to attend training sessions. Being able to demonstrate a tangible return on investment will help your senior management team to understand the benefits and get your budget signed off. Without this, your proposed training programme will fall at the first hurdle.
Positioning training as integral to organisational success
Ultimately, to gain approval from your senior management team, your proposed training programme must be driven by a compelling business case, be aligned to long term organisational strategy and demonstrate a tangible return on investment. By doing this, they will be able to easily understand and support your vision by recognising its long term impact on the company’s bottom line.
Gaining support during rollout.
For some employees, the prospect of training isn’t necessarily welcome. They may be resistant to change and potentially indifferent, suspicious, or even hostile to the process of having their performance reviewed and may feel that training is an unnecessary waste of their time. Involving team leaders and line managers from the start will help them to feel
Don’t forget that getting management buy in isn’t a tick box procedure to kickstart the programme; it’s an ongoing relationship management activity. Their support and input is essential throughout the entire life cycle of your training programme. Make sure that you plan in regular progress updates and reviews to keep your management team in the loop and be responsive to their feedback.
Employees shouldn’t simply be passive recipients of training, they should be at the heart of your plans. By getting their input at every stage of the process – from programme development and testing training, through to post event feedback and improvements will help you to develop a training programme that is fit for purpose and met with enthusiasm and cross-organisational support.
Your employees should be the experts in their own jobs, so will be able to share their insights into how to fit training into their working day, how they like to learn and what format works best for them. Additionally they will be able to share crucial information about what training will help them to feel more confident and motivated, as well as proficient in undertaking key tasks
Types of Employee Training Methods
Once you’ve identified the training needed across your organisation, selecting the right delivery method is crucial to have the required impact. Getting it wrong can be a costly mistake, so taking the time to fully research the options. With so many types of training available – from short off-the-shelf passive training courses through to bespoke crafted programmes, knowing the types of options, along with the pros and cons of each will help to ensure that you make the right choice. These can include:
Classroom based courses
Classroom based courses take learners out of the workplace for traditional group learning experiences. These are often theoretically based, and led by experienced instructors or trainers.
The pros: The key advantage of classroom learning is that multiple employees can be trained simultaneously and can benefit from face-to-face support from an expert trainer. Classroom based learning is often accompanied by user guides that can be referred to post-training.
The cons: Classroom learning often takes a one size fits all approach, even when developed as a bespoke course. Long term retention of knowledge is also less effective than more hands-on, practical training methods. There are also logistical challenges, such as organising all trainees in the same place, at the same time.
Instructional videos are recorded content, to address a specific skills challenge. They often feature an expert who will either describe or demonstrate relevant information.
The pros: Instructional videos are relatively affordable to produce and can be rolled out easily on a mass scale. They can be accessed anywhere and replayed multiple times.
The cons: It’s a passive experience, where learners can be easily distracted, which can compromise the long term retention of skills.
Mentoring and coaching offers learners the opportunity to grow professionally. Mentors can help by sharing their knowledge, skills and/or experience, whereas coaches support learners to explore how they can achieve more and reach their objectives.
The pros: Coaching and mentoring is the ultimate tailored learning experience, as it is completely focussed on an individual’s career development needs.
The cons: It’s not necessarily a quick fix to develop practical skills; coaching and mentoring work best to change behaviours and mindsets. Finding the right mentor or coach can also be challenging, and there may also be a significant time commitment required by both the learner and the coach or mentor.
On the job training
On the job training takes place in the workplace. It often requires the learner to observe colleagues undertaking specific tasks – and potentially practice tasks under supervision.
The pros: The great thing about on the job training is that it is directly related to tasks undertaken in the workplace. It’s a great way to gain practical insights as well as get hands-on training, which is effective for long term retention of skills learned.
The cons: The workplace can be a risky place to learn, especially when training to use dangerous equipment. It can also be disruptive to the work environment, for example, requiring downtime on systems.
Delivered via computer or digital devices, e-learning offers a flexible way to improve knowledge through bite sized, often interactive learning experiences.
The pros: E-learning can fit easily around an employee’s work commitments and can be accessed at any place or time. It can be an effective way to reduce employee training costs. Performance during training can be measured by using interactive content, which can be fed directly into learning management systems.
The cons: Like instructional videos, e-learning can be a largely passive experience that can suffer from a learner being distracted by their surroundings. It’s also largely a solitary learning experience, so it doesn’t work well for team training.
Immersive technology based experiences
Immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) are the new kids on the block for employee training. These technologies use digital content to either overlay over the real world (through AR) or create imagined worlds that can be accessed via VR equipment.
The pros: It provides a risk free, safe environment that can replicate real world scenarios to gain practical skills. It can be accessed remotely, but colleagues can be brought together in a virtual space to train together. It can be accessed multiple times, and potentially distraction-free, helping learners to retain learning – and performance can be monitored and evaluated.
The cons: Initial costs of buying in hardware and producing content can be perceived as prohibitively expensive. Hardware may be difficult to source. Some learners may be uncomfortable in VR experiences.
Creating Effective Learning Experiences
There are some simple rules to follow when developing learning experiences that will hit the mark in effectively training employees. These include:
Getting to know your learner
The learner’s skills needs should be central to every training intervention. Knowing where there are gaps in their skills, as well as their learning styles are essential, so course content is directly relevant and engaging.
Get your timing right
Bigger isn’t always better – and that’s certainly the case when it comes to training. Consider delivering training content in flexible, bite sized sessions to keep your learner’s attention, and so that they can easily fit training around other work commitments and deadlines.
Make it practical – where possible
Taking a hands-on approach – and the potential to practice tasks when learning how to undertake practical tasks can improve muscle memory which significantly improves the retention of knowledge.
Pre-empt any potential anxiety and put your learner at ease by sending joining instructions in advance of the course date, including any pre-course preparation, through to login and software details for digital training sessions, as well as a point of contact for remote learners in case things aren’t working properly on the day.
Developing course materials
Unless your learner has a photographic memory, much of your content will be forgotten after the course has finished. Providing easily accessible post-training materials can help learners to refer back to when applying new skills in the workplace.
Make it relatable
Having an experience that is led by a friendly face helps to make courses more relatable and engaging. If you are developing digital courses or video content, think about adding an avatar guide or human presenter on the screen to guide the learner through the training experience.
Don’t forget to keep it interactive… and evaluate it!
Adding quizzes and assessments throughout a training experience can help to improve engagement and keep the learner motivated, as well as test their abilities and track achievements.
Measuring Employee Training Effectiveness
Measuring success shouldn’t be an after-thought, it needs to be considered and built into any training programme at the planning stage. Evaluating the impact of any training intervention is important for assessing the effectiveness in terms of the trainee’s individual work performance, as well as their contribution to team and organisational goals.
Moreover, as training programmes should be constantly evolving, training evaluation should also be used to refine and improve, to ensure that your skills interventions are working both now and in the future.
Whether the training intervention is a traditional classroom based course or a bespoke tech supported VR experience, evaluation of training should include assessing:
Initial impact during the training experience
For traditional courses, trainers will often include short quizzes, tests and role playing throughout the course to assess whether learners are improving their knowledge during the experience. Many digitally based training courses have taken this to the next level, with Moreover, the results can automatically feed into the learner’s HR records.
Immediate learner satisfaction
A training experience should leave the learner feeling positive and that time invested has been well spent. Asking for anonymous qualitative and quantitative feedback to gain insights and opinions that can be used to continually improve course content.
Implementation of new skills into the workplace
Ultimately, training interventions are designed to improve knowledge and skills to change behaviours and improve work practices. For training to be successful, newly learned skills should be applied in the workplace. This can be assessed through existing appraisal processes and performance metrics, as well as through more informal on-the-job observations by line managers.
Impact on organisational goals
Finally, training should have a tangible and measurable impact on your organisation’s overall aims and objectives. For example, are your employees contributing to improved productivity and undertaking safer working practices?
You can’t build a house without laying the foundation. Similarly, you can’t achieve organisational objectives if your employees don’t understand and execute their roles effectively. Planning is key – from building strong foundations with a training needs analysis to getting cross organisation buy-in. Training should be tailored for individual or team needs as well as aligning to organisational goals and objectives.
Get in touch today for more information on how we can help you design effective employee training programmes that will have meaningful impact on your business.