Employee training

Employee training

Table of Contents

    We have a question for you. What could your organization achieve if every employee reached their full potential? A lot, we bet. 

    Now, what would you say if we told you that a recent LinkedIn survey revealed that 74% of the employees surveyed don’t feel like they’re reaching their full potential due to a lack of development opportunities? Pretty shocking, isn’t it?

    Fortunately, there’s a solution–employee training.

    This guide breaks down everything you need to know about staff training, including:

    • What employee training is
    • The differences between employee training and employee development 
    • The benefits of employee training and development
    • Common types of employee training 
    • Employee training best practices 


    What is employee training?

    Employee training is a planned program of learning activities designed to help employees develop the necessary KSAs (knowledge, skill sets, and abilities) to perform their jobs effectively. In turn, it drives employee performance and organizational growth. 

    It’s an umbrella term that covers all types of training programs that a company conducts to educate employees. This includes onboarding, compliance training, sales training, and product knowledge training.

    At its core, employee training should be aligned with business goals. What skills does your organization need to thrive now and in the future?

    The goals of employee training usually change over time:

    • Getting new hires up to speed as soon as possible
    • Developing employee productivity and performance
    • Career development opportunities for candidates that show promise, such as leadership training

    Employee training can be delivered in a number of ways. While instructor-led training was the original method of choice, most organizations have now swapped in-person sessions for e-learning or blended learning.

    Delivering professional development training online is more cost-effective, flexible, and engaging for today’s workforce. Employees can take training courses at their own pace, at any time, and from any location. 

    All an organization needs is a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver training and build a learning hub. Plus, an LMS makes it easy to track key training metrics. This is essential in measuring the ROI of employee training programs.

    Next up, we’re gonna clear a common question—what’s the difference between employee training and employee development?


    Employee training vs. employee development

    So, what’s the main difference between employee training and employee development? Employee training refers to a program that gives employees the immediate skills they need to improve performance in their current roles.

    Conversely, employee development is a more expansive concept focusing on employee growth and future performance. 

    Put simply, employee training is short-term, and employee development is long-term. 

    The former tackles the new skills that employees need here and now—how to use a particular piece of software, understanding the company’s workflows, etc. There’s pretty much always a concrete learning outcome.

    On the other hand, employee development takes a long-term approach and equips employees with skills that can help them grow as individuals. This can include learning experiences such as soft skills training, leadership skills, and others. 

    The point is to equip learners with what they need to face future challenges in their careers as well as in their personal lives.

    To quickly sum it up:

    • Employee training—short-term focus on giving employees concrete new skills they can use in their current roles 
    • Employee development—long-term training plans that have the goal of developing employee capabilities to face future roles and challenges 

    Now that we’ve cleared this up, let’s look at some benefits of implementing an employee training program.


    Three benefits of robust employee training programs

    Effective corporate employee training pays off in many ways. The benefits for employees include upskilling, crosstraining, and bridging knowledge gaps. 

    For employers, training programs boost productivity, reduce accidents, and foster a strong company culture. 

    Let’s take a deeper look into the most important benefits now.


    1. Employee retention

    Staff turnover is one of the biggest challenges companies face. Think we’re exaggerating? 

    Employee churn costs US companies a whole $1 trillion each year. So, it’s no wonder that companies are investing in retention strategies to combat this issue.

    Can an employee training program be part of this? Absolutely. 

    Employee learning links with employee engagement and productivity. A report by Udemy shows that 80% of employees say they’d be more engaged if they had more workplace learning opportunities. Meanwhile, the Harvard Business Review reports that a lack of learning and development at work is driving early exits and low job satisfaction. 

    So, if you want to keep your employees satisfied and prevent turnover, amp up your employee training efforts.

    While it may be a hot topic amongst today’s leading employers, it’s by no means a new idea. This SHRM article from 2001 has executives talking about the importance of training and career pathing in terms of employee retention.

    If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon by now, what are you waiting for?


    2. Employees have confidence and perform better

    It’s simple, if an employee isn’t feeling confident in their skills, they won’t perform well. 

    And vice versa. Confident workers are better decision-makers, innovate more, and need less supervision. They’re also more willing to put themselves forward to learn new skills. 

    This makes it easier for organizations to plug skill gaps, another big issue facing companies these days. According to this Linkedin Workplace Learning Report, closing skill gaps has become a priority for learning and development professionals. 

    Whether it’s plugging knowledge gaps, reskilling, or developing key company competencies—employee training gives team members confidence in their abilities and motivates them to keep learning. 

    Skilled workers make fewer mistakes, which improves overall organizational performance. It also reduces the risk of errors, especially in areas like manufacturing and healthcare, where small mistakes can have big consequences. 

    Employee performance has a profound business impact. When staff performance and productivity increase, everything from customer service to the bottom line improves too.


    3. Strong company culture

    Today’s job market is competitive. So, your company needs a strong company culture to stand out from the crowd and attract top talent.

    Employer branding isn’t the only reason why your workplace culture matters. A great company culture makes employees feel like they belong and that their employers value them. This sense of purpose really matters to the millennial workforce

    Learning and development can drive company culture by cultivating resilience and adaptability, according to this LinkedIn report. Companies with a growth mindset (a key pillar of learning culture) can “bounce forward” and be resilient in the face of challenges, such as the Great Resignation and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    Exactly what kind of culture should your company have? A learning culture.

    Do you want your staff to embody your core values? Then provide soft skills training to get them there. Does your company value inclusivity? Incorporate diversity training into your onboarding program.

    A learning culture will give your employees the tools they need to build the workplace you want.

    In the next section, we’ll look at some of the most common types of employee training.


    Four common types of employee training

    From online training courses to webinar sessions to knowledge bases, employee training comes in many different shapes and sizes.

    To inspire you, we’ve rounded up the four most common types of employee training you can roll out today.


    1. Onboarding

    First things first, we’re starting with good old-fashioned onboarding. Onboarding is a process that introduces new hires to the company’s values, policies, and culture. 

    It’s a critical time in the employee journey—a chance for the company to leave a good first impression and validate the new employee’s decision to join the team. As a result, onboarding is one of the best tools for preventing employee churn. 

    Some companies choose to do pre-boarding as well, which is an opportunity to ease new hires into the organization and take some of the admin off the table before the first day. 

    Onboarding can be delivered in person, online, or through a blended learning program. As remote working soars in popularity, an increasing number of companies opt for an online onboarding program delivered through an LMS.  

    New hires can access tailor-made learning paths that guide them through digital training modules, quizzes, and resources. These can be personalized for different roles and seniority levels. 

    Since most of the top LMSs have integrations with video conferencing software, you can include live sessions as well as online courses for a truly immersive experience.

    Of course, learning should continue beyond onboarding, but an effective staff onboarding program sets the tone.


    2. Job training

    We could call this the meat and potatoes of employee training. On-the-job training (or workplace training) is the most common type of employee training. This type of training covers everything an employee needs to perform tasks competently. 

    According to the 70-20-10 model, 70% of employee learning happens on the job. This could be learning by doing, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, or self-teaching. 

    An LMS is one of the best ways to deliver job training. HR and L&D teams can create an employee knowledge base chock full of tutorial videos, job aids, and other training materials. Then, employees can search for the information at the point of need.

    On-the-job training resources are typically a mix of formal training courses and informal learning assets, such as step-by-step guides and videos.

    Since the idea is for employees to get the information at the point of need, microlearning modules work best. That way, learners don’t have to click through long e-learning courses or scroll through lengthy documents to find the knowledge they need.


    3. Training for promotion and development

    You’re going to want to offer your top performers training to prepare them for promotion and development. This kind of employee training is also called leadership development training, and it’s a part of an organization’s succession planning strategy. 

    As employees move up on the corporate ladder, they’ll typically need training both in technical skills (such as performance management) and soft skills (like decision-making).

    Training methods for leadership training include mentoring, self-study, and job rotation. That said, e-learning can enhance leadership training programs in a number of ways. 

    For instance, you can create online courses to cover the theoretical parts of the training– giving feedback using the STAR model, leadership styles, etc. 

    These can be shared with participants before an in-person (or Zoom) session, so everyone knows the theory and is ready to practice. 

    In most cases, a blended approach works best. That way, learners get the flexibility of digital learning with real-life, hands-on experience.


    4. Refresher training

    One constant in the world of education is that learners forget a lot—ask any trainer. 

    If you want a scientific explanation for it, the best one comes in the form of the “Forgetting Curve.” According to this theory, the more time passes after a learning experience, the more learners forget. 

    But there’s a way to fight it, and it’s called refresher training. Essentially, you need to follow up on all employee training with refresher training sessions. This is especially true for important stuff like compliance training. 

    Microlearning refresher courses are a great way to refresh your employees’ memory. Learners can access these bite-sized modules from anywhere and reinforce the most important takeaways from a larger training program. Offering interactive quizzes is a really good method of reinforcement too.

    Opting for an LMS with a native mobile app means employees can take refresher training on any device. This is especially useful for sales reps in the field. They can quickly look up essential product information to close an all-important sale or give clients the answers they need.

    Up next, some best practices to make your employee training program a success.


    Five tips for effective employee training

    So you want to roll out an online employee training program. But how do you do it effectively?

    Here are our top five tips for effective employee training.


    Tip #1: Make training interactive and conversational

    Considering how advanced LMSs are these days, there’s no reason to deliver employee training in the form of static and boring presentations and lectures.

    Don’t be afraid to get creative and interactive. You can include:

    • Interactive quizzes
    • Adaptive learning modules
    • Game elements (leaderboards, timers, points, etc.)
    • Simulations 
    • Videos

    When it comes to tone, keep it conversational. Learners engage better with training content that speaks their language, so avoid jargon and overly formal language.


    Tip #2: Create personalized training material

    Using adaptive learning, it’s possible to tailor learning objects to the needs of individual learners. 

    For instance, you can have branching paths in your training program. Learners can take different learning paths depending on their knowledge level and job role. This ensures the training content is relevant and level-appropriate.  

    It also boosts learner engagement and knowledge retention. Learners are more likely to connect with training content that feels personalized to their needs. Something as simple as adding a shortcode with learners’ names to your training courses can make the material feel tailored and meaningful.

    Don’t forget, everyone has a different learning style. So, including a mixture of text, audio, videos, and images will cater to a wider range of learning styles.


    Tip #3: Make training relatable

    Unlike children, adult learners don’t respond well to one-size-fits-all learning experiences. 

    Your employees should know why they’re participating in a given training program, what skills they’ll have at the end, and how those skills will help them to do their jobs better. 

    If you’re delivering e-learning courses via an LMS, make sure your course descriptions are clear and comprehensive. Use simple language that explains the “why” behind the training.

    When designing your learning experiences, think about your audience. Why do they need this training? What challenges do they face? 

    Adding real-life examples will make the training more relatable and, as a result, more engaging.


    Tip #4: Enhance your training program with gamification elements

    Did you know that global video gaming revenues are set to exceed $321 billion by 2026? You may be wondering what that’s got to do with employee training. Actually, quite a lot.

    Many of your employees are playing video games, and that’s doubly true for millennial and generation Z workers. So, why not leverage this in your learning programs?

    Some of the things video games offer can translate into powerful ways to motivate and engage learners. 

    Enter gamification. It borrows familiar elements of video games, such as experience points, leveling up, high scores, leaderboards, and achievements, and applies them to online learning. 

    The result is learning experiences that are fun and engaging. Don’t miss out on one of the biggest trends in e-learning. There’s a good reason why the best LMSs all offer gamification.


    Tip #5: Encourage team building through training

    Training is often done in groups, and this is an opportunity to foster collaboration and teamwork. 

    There are many ways to do this, from asking your trainees to work on a group project to setting time aside for debates and discussions. 

    For digital training programs, you can take advantage of social learning features in your LMS. For instance, tools such as forums, knowledge sharing, and Ask the Expert encourage collaboration in the workplace.

    Let’s wrap up with a quick recap. Keep reading.


    Wrapping up

    Employee training is the process of giving employees the skills and knowledge they need to meet the demands of their job. 

    When done properly, employee training engages and motivates employees. In turn, this boosts productivity, confidence, and loyalty. 

    A robust employee training program helps you retain employees and prepare top talent to become future leaders. 

    Fancy learning more about the benefits of employee training? Take a look at our glossary of the key L&D trends, terms, and tools.

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