The responsibility of training the workforce is generally taken on board by Development or Talent teams in larger corporations and Human Resources in smaller companies. They are required to identify topics and needs of the training programs and make them available for employees. They have a responsibility to build the strategy and roadmaps of employee experiences and journeys.
There is a common stigma around corporate training programs, where employees often struggle to see value in them because they are designed to highlight gaps or are very specific and only relevant to current positions. Hence, the role of L&D now is evolving to enable ongoing learning rather than control it.
Workplace Learning Today
Better workplace learning is more in demand than ever. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 94% of employees stated that they would commit to staying at a company longer if the company invested in their development. Complimenting this statistic is the fact that 90% of top management also believe that investing in their employees’ career development is a positive requirement for the growth of the company.
That settles it then. Both the employees and employers see the importance in the career development of their workforce. What next? Creating ‘standardized’ training programs for all your employees will sure, present information in front of them but that does not guarantee transfer of knowledge and employee engagement that will translate into growth for the company.
More importantly, your employees have varied roles, experience, knowledge, & abilities. Designing your training program to be specific to each one of them will improve learning efficiency and increase ROI. Well-structured L&D programs build the desired knowledge and skills that will impact individual employee performance and increase job satisfaction, which often results in higher employee retention.
What’s a good training program?
Undoubtedly, every individual has their own idea of what makes a ‘good training program’. The truth is there isn’t a unique model of what constitutes the ideal training program. However, some things remain standard in all good training programs –no matter the industry, the employee size, the purpose of the program, the geography and demography:
Relevancy and Need – The experience and information you offer your employees must be relevant, timely and applicable to their daily job activities. It should help them expand their knowledge, skills and should be easy to digest so they learn quickly and can implement what they learn. It is also imperative to correctly identify who needs to be trained, what topics and skills they should to be trained on. For example, if you have unsatisfied customers, you may need a customer service training for your sales team. However, if your company is going through a merger process you might need to train managers on Change Management.
Alignment – Anything you train your employees on must be aligned with your organizational goals. Don’t ask your employees what training they want or need instead, focus on what are the business outcomes and then identify the capabilities needed to achieve those outcomes. Then you can decide collectively what specific skill sets are needed by your employee base and the the types of learning experiences you need to create.
Goal oriented – When structuring training programs, ensure they are goal oriented and the Key Performance Indicators chosen paint a wholistic picture – time, cost, effectiveness, quality and quantity of the program.
Manager Input – Manager involvement is important to increase employee engagement in learning. A survey conducted by LinkedIn, noted that 56% of employees would spend more time on their training if their manager directed, or recommended, them to a specific program that directly they believe will improve their skills.
Creativity – Workplace learning is evolving to a place where adding fun, bite-sized and relevant activities to training is becoming increasingly popular to increase employee engagement. Moving away from traditional trainer style learning, or online learning experience similar to flicking through a powerpoint presentation, will allow you to explore more creative possibilities.
Post training – Organizations spend thousands of dollars each year on employee training with little knowledge of whether it’s “working”. Incorporating post training follow ups, such as short lessons or activities to review new concepts learnt or face to face feedback sessions, can help ensure concepts are understood and actively practiced.
Objectives of training programs
There are a number of reasons and motivations for an organization to develop a training program. Listed below are the most common objectives of training programs:
Career and Personal Development
Arguably the most common objective of training programs is to help employees in their current roles and prepare for future ones. Topics range from being very specific to job positions to soft-skills like leadership.
Career development as a whole can be looked at from two perspectives: the employee and the employer. The company’s main aim is to increase its employees productivity in order to achieve business goals, which is generally done by ensuring “the perfect marriage between the job and the person”. On the other hand, for the employee, both career and personal development are very important. Whilst ‘career development’ helps them meet goals, get promoted and even get higher remuneration, ‘personal development’ results in work satisfaction and makes them feel valued as individuals outside of work.
A substantial difference between career and personal development is the fact that not all companies are willing to invest in the personal development of their employees as much as they are with career. Personal development can include training courses that don’t have a direct correlation to the job being done, for example investing in health and wellbeing or personal interests like cooking. There is evidence to suggest that investing in the ‘person’ often attracts and retains employees and drives better business performance.
Onboarding: New Employees or New Roles
Training programs to onboard new employees are often underestimated by companies. According to a recent survey, it was observed that 22% of companies do not have a formal onboarding program while a good 49% believed to have a ‘somewhat’ successful process.
New employees generally take some time to become productive as they tend to be more stressed, anxious and definitely feel a disconnection from the rest of the team. It’s also observed that 33% of new employees are likely to look for a new job in the first six months of starting and a good 22% will change within the first 45 days.
A good onboarding process helps manage the emotions experienced by most new hires, reduces the costs of employee turnover and increases general productivity. An employee that goes through a well structured onboarding process is 58% more likely to continue to be with an organization after three years.
Some companies have company-wide training programs from time to time, designed to educate their entire workforce on specific topics. The variedness of these programs depends of course on factors like the company location or industry in which it operates. Programs include updating employees on regulations & policies, discussing occupational health & safety, diversity, workplace etiquette, and more. For example, public sector employees often require to take occupational health and safety training, and some industry legislations require both private and public companies to deliver sexual harassment training to their employees.
Types of training programs
Whatever modes and mediums you use to deliver workplace training, make sure they are interesting. There is nothing worse for an employee than having to go through a compliance training that they ‘have’ to do, and also happens to be ‘boring’.
Possibly the most commonly used training method (which mimics the widely used teaching method used in education institutions). This type of training accounts for on an average 42% of an organization’s training hours. It involves a trainer physically teaching multiple employees in a ‘classroom’ type of experience, usually with a powerpoint presentation as a visual aid.
No doubt this style of training comes with its perks – the most notable being personal interaction. It sets up the opportunity for employees to ask trainers questions that may otherwise go unanswered in other modes. More importantly, it allows for relationship building between the employee and the trainer and among the employees learning together.
However, what it does not allow for is practice and scalability, and is often quite costly. It requires an instructor to be present at all times and may get difficult as more and more employees start to join –limited the personal interaction (which is this methods’ biggest advantage). From a trainers point of view, it gets challenging to cater to the needs and speeds of each participant as they don’t learn at the same pace.
In any case, if this is your preferred method of training, endeavour to keep the morale and energy high by incorporating shorter sessions, breaks and allow for dedicated discussion and practise times.
This method takes the traditional classroom style training to a whole new and exciting level by incorporating group and interactive activities. This involves smaller group discussions, role playing, case study reviews, demonstrations and even games. One in three employees say training is often uninspiring and discourages creative thinking, so this approach is recommended to increase overall engagement and develop much needed soft-skills.
Interactive training can be effective as it encourages transfer of knowledge in all directions allowing participants to learn and share information from each other and helps keep the energy high. However, some people who are not outgoing, quieter or introverted may get lost in the shuffle. So it is recommended you consider all types of trainee personas when including activities so they all feel involved and maximise learning.
A great (but a little old) example of an interactive training program is Pixar’s in-house training initiative. The video below explains this concept in detail: