What is Employee Training? How to Build the Ultimate Employee Training & Development Program
August 25, 2023
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In a competitive business landscape, innovating is the driving force and adaptability is the key to survival. Employee training is the ultimate resource to transform novices into experts and teams into powerhouses.
But it’s not just about ticking off boxes; it’s about developing a finely-tuned workforce, inspired and ready to conquer challenges.
Employee training involves helping your team members develop and improve the knowledge and skills they need for their current roles. For example, someone in customer service might be trained in advanced customer retention skills, how to upsell, and techniques to help them weather challenging interactions.
Many employers expect that when they hire someone new, they will need to train them on the specifics of how their organization performs the work. However, additional skills training can be overlooked once that new-hire period is over.
What do employees want to learn? According to SHRM’s 2022 report:
- Job-related hard skills—88%
- Leadership training and other soft skills—84%
- Self-management training (goal setting, stress management, etc)—81%
- Life skills (well-being, financial wellness, social skills, etc)—78%
Did you know that 55 percent of employees feel they need additional training to perform better in their role, according to the 2022 SHRM Workplace Learning report?
That’s not surprising, considering how quickly the work we do every day is changing. Skill sets for jobs have changed by 25 percent since 2015, and that number is expected to hit 50 percent by 2027.
How can you create employee training that’s effective? And how can you tie this training into employee development plans that help your team members grow within the organization so that you both leverage and retain their talents?
It requires a clear understanding of what makes employee training and development programs effective now, in a post-pandemic, largely remote working world.
What is employee training?
Employee training is the process of enhancing an employee’s skills, knowledge, and abilities in a specific area to improve their immediate job performance.
It’s a strategic investment that equips individuals with the practical skills and know-how required to execute their tasks efficiently. Training often focuses on technical skills, job-specific procedures, and tools necessary for a particular role.
Whether it’s mastering software applications, adhering to safety protocols, or refining customer service techniques, training imparts the concrete skills that enable employees to excel in their current responsibilities.
What is employee development?
Employee development focuses on helping employees grow in their overall careers. Employee development encompasses a more holistic approach, including skill enhancement, personal growth, and readiness for future roles.
While training ensures that employees can competently execute their current tasks, development prepares them for potential organizational advancement.
For example, someone might receive leadership training in preparation for becoming a manager rather than because they are a manager today.
Both training and development are essential if you want to attract and retain top talent.
Employees want to do well in their current roles, of course, but they also want to see a path where they can grow in terms of responsibility, salary, and skill level.
Types of employee training programs
Sometimes it’s easy to get tunnel vision when thinking about employee training and assume that it has always to be done the same way or at the same point in the employee’s career.
To break out of that box, it’s helpful to review all of the types of employee training your L&D team can use.
Pre-onboarding and onboarding
When someone is new to the company, they need to learn your organization’s way of doing things. Other than entry-level employees, new team members can be expected to have the skills they need to be successful, but they aren’t aware of your company’s specific processes.
The onboarding process is a new employee’s first look at your company’s culture and way of doing things, and you want to make a good impression. Having a strong onboarding process can improve new-hire retention by 50 percent, which helps you keep the talent you’ve spent so much time and money winning over.
Pre-onboarding and onboarding should focus on bonding the new employee with your company, helping them meet key people they’ll be working with, and teaching them the processes to use in their role. You can also address any skill gaps during this time with additional training.
Read more: 5 Effective New Hire Onboarding Strategies
Behavioral and compliance training
Behavioral training addresses the fact that everyone has biases and blind spots that can affect how they relate to others. The goal is to reveal these blind spots and help all your employees understand how to relate to each other
This category includes anti-harassment training, diversity training, different communication styles, and training about how differences in background can impact how we look at the world and how those differences help the company grow in creative ways.
Being able to offer compliance training that’s trackable, engaging, and easy to understand is essential.
Sales and support enablement
Sales enablement, which focuses on improving the sales process and ensuring sales reps have specific skills, is a significant focus for many organizations. Research shows that a company with a dedicated sales enablement function has significantly better win rates, quota attainment, and customer retention.
Support enablement is similar but focuses on training customer support reps and helping them support customer success, upsell and cross-sell, and handle customer concerns.
Both types of training are essential to ensuring your company is profitable by focusing not only on new customer acquisition but also on customer success and retention.
It’s essential to look beyond training that’s focused only on the employee’s current role and think about how to develop them for the future.
Each team member has their own professional goals, and if they don’t see a path to reach those goals in your organization, they’ll likely move to another company.
Employee development focuses on hard and soft skills, from using specific software tools to the type of communication it takes to succeed in another role. You can use various methods for employee development, including mentoring, job shadowing, and online or in-person training.
Continuing education and upskilling
Once someone is stable within their role, you want to ensure they can continue to learn and grow. This might include training to help them improve their skills and learn new skills that can help them excel on the job and in their daily lives.
Continuing education and upskilling allow you to help team members succeed long after their new hire days are over and also help your organization stay at the forefront of how the industry is changing over time.
Leadership training is critical in almost every organization. Only 11 percent of HR leaders said they had a strong bench to fill leadership positions in 2020, pointing to an urgent shortage in leadership skills.
Leadership training involves soft skills, including learning how to coach, mentor, and have challenging conversations in productive ways. Great leaders make a huge difference in the organization, and poor leadership can damage your company for years to come. It’s vital to create training programs around leadership.
Benefits of employee training and development
Why should you focus on employee training and development?
There are a number of reasons, and it’s no surprise that many companies are increasing their L&D budgets for the future.
When employees have the skills they need to perform well, they will be more productive and successful.
They’ll make fewer small mistakes that require rework, and it’s far easier to stay motivated when you excel at your work. Employee training and development also help your organization keep up with the speed at which job skills are changing.
Read more: 5 Ways L&D Can Impact Employee Productivity
Better employee retention
Employees with access to professional development opportunities are 15 percent more engaged in their jobs, which led to a 34 percent higher retention rate, according to the 2020 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey.
Other research shows that employees are more likely to stay with companies that invest in their growth over time, so it pays to invest in employee training and development.
Read more: 7 Things Employees Want From Employers
Supportive & safe work environments
When people have proper training on diversity, communication, and the value of different points of view, they’re far more likely to have a supportive work culture that embraces differences and helps everyone succeed.
At the same time, proper training in specific industries can reduce errors that may lead to accidents, promoting a safe work environment. Having a safe and supportive environment will also help you have engaged employees and lower turnover.
Best practices for designing employee training and development programs
How do you create a high-quality training program? You don’t need to start from scratch.
You can take advantage of various training and development best practices, which have been proven to work in other organizations.
Read more: What is an Employee Training Plan Template?
Determine the type of training
What’s the best way to deliver training? Consider asking your employees.
In SHRM’s 2022 Workplace Learning report, employees ranked online training the highest, followed by instructor-led online training, in-person training, and a hybrid approach.
Many workers prefer on-demand training they can complete in short amounts of time, so consider using a learning platform that allows you to create shorter training modules and microlearning that address specific needs.
Use the right learning platform
Employee training and development has significant benefits for your company, but it also requires an investment. Finding the right training platform maximizes your investment while delivering high-quality training.
With the Learning Cloud from WorkRamp, you can create easy-to-use training for new hires, sales teams, customer education, and employee development, all on one platform. Making a single investment that allows you to provide high-quality training for employees and customers gives you a centralized, streamlined learning experience.
Analyze training needs
With the right systems in place, it’s time to decide what specific training your company needs.
Find out what your team members want to learn, and ask managers about the most significant skill gaps in the organization.
This will give you a great place to start. From there, learn more about employees’ career goals and the company’s leadership needs and create training to address those areas as well.
Prioritize the employee experience
As you create training programs, consider how your employees will use them. Help ensure team members find these programs accessible and easy to use.
It’s essential to address a variety of learning styles, for example, and create engaging content using video, audio, text, and gamification.
You’ll also want to make the courses short enough to make them easy to consume and ensure employees have time to complete them. Often, delivering short, targeted training is better than a more thorough course no one has time for.
Set goals and track metrics
Finally, be sure to measure the results of your employee training and development program to show its positive impact on your company. This will help show a return on investment and help you advocate for the resources needed to grow the program.
For example, you can look at course completions and results and how employee engagement and productivity improved afterward. You can also track employee survey results after training and monitor turnover numbers.
Your hard work makes a difference; when you track metrics, you’ll have the numbers to prove it.
The benefits of using a learning platform for employee training
Why invest in a training platform rather than using internal documents and other assets? There are various reasons—here are just a few to consider.
Cost and resources
One of the hidden costs of developing training is redundancy—sometimes, a person or team will create training materials that already exist, but that person or team isn’t aware of it. Over a larger organization, this can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Quantum Metric saved significant time and resources when they used WorkRamp as a single platform to share content and resources across every team. They were able to build each team and role’s learning paths quickly and onboard 90 new hires in 90 days.
As the Director of Enablement, Chauncy Cay Ford, shared, “WorkRamp has allowed us to take a different approach to training—it’s given us one magical space where we can put on our creative design hats to design and share learning materials with our entire community of customers and employees.”
Better employee experience
Employees enjoy a modern, engaging learning experience. An ad-hoc collection of documents and outdated videos is not engaging and doesn’t give employees the confidence that the training is a valuable use of their time.
A learning platform allows multiple learning approaches all in one place. You can include interactive elements like videos, quizzes, and Flip Cards to make it more engaging.
Reduced ramp time
Because the training process is optimized for learners and is easy to use, you’ll be able to train new employees more quickly and reduce the time it takes them to be effective.
With engaging new hire training and the ability to reinforce what users learn with follow-up micro-courses, new hires will retain more of their training and be better able to apply it as they work with customers and colleagues.
Onboarding one or two employees with a manual process is challenging but doable. However, as your company grows, manual processes don’t work anymore. A platform like the Learning Cloud allows you to scale your onboarding process, employee training, and more.
You don’t want to be stuck in manual processes that cause everything you do to take months. Instead, invest in a learning platform that allows you to scale and grow quickly so your business can succeed.
Finally, having everything you need in one place makes your L&D program much easier to manage. You can create and deploy courses and modules quickly and easily.
You can also track the results of your training programs to show the positive impact you’re making. A manual process doesn’t allow you to do that, which can result in a lack of buy-in and resources for your team.
Create the best employee training with the Learning Cloud
Employee training and development isn’t something you can overlook in today’s competitive business environment. You want the best employees on your team, and you want them to stay with your organization.
The best way to do that is to create robust employee training that helps your employees learn, excel in their current roles, and advance in the future.
The Learning Cloud helps you create a learning center of excellence by centralizing your employee and customer training in a single platform.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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Anna SpoonerFreelance Writer
Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action.
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