An effective employee training program should be built following a systematic, step-by-step process. Training initiatives that stand alone (consisting of one-off events) often fail to meet organizational objectives and participant expectations. In addition, the need for effective, ongoing training that can be delivered online and in person is critical with today’s increasingly hybrid workforce.
In today’s blog, we define a training program and outline five steps to creating effective training programs that result in positive business impact and support the overall employee experience.
What is an employee training program?
A training program is an initiative led by HR and talent departments at an organization meant to upskill or reskill their employees. A vital part of the employee experience, training programs allow employees to develop to boost performance and productivity in their current roles or acquire the knowledge and skills needed to transition to another position. Training programs, when designed well, benefit both organizations and employees. Organizations can retain their employees and will likely see improvements in sales, productivity, camaraderie amongst colleagues, and workplace happiness. Employees who undergo a successful training program often get recognized through promotions or rewards and feel a higher sense of job satisfaction.
How to create an effective training program?
Not all training programs are created equally. Some are destined to fail from the beginning due to bad planning and lack of strategy, while others achieve great success for the organization and its employees. Creating an effective training program, like everything else in the business world, requires having a vision, setting clear goals, and following through. Here are a few steps to start implementing a training program that will not only last but succeed.
1. Assess training needs:
The first step in developing a training program is identifying and assessing needs. A needs assessment helps you determine which teams or employees need training, what training they need, and the best ways to deliver it.
Employee training needs may already be established in the organization’s strategic, human resources, or individual development plans. However, if you’re building the training program from scratch (without predetermined objectives), you must first assess which areas to focus on. So, what does assessing training needs look like?
Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the organization’s training needs. Identify skills gaps, job-specific requirements, and areas for improvement. Gather input from employees, supervisors, and HR professionals to determine the training priorities.
Here are a few questions you can start by asking.
- What areas in the organization will benefit from training right now?
- What problems are you trying to solve with the training?
- Who will benefit most from training?
Data points you can look at to answer these questions include CSAT surveys, employee performance reviews, sales goals vs. achievement, employee engagement surveys, and exit surveys. These data points touch on most organizations’ primary areas of concern: customer satisfaction, profitability, and employee experience. Once you have determined your current needs, it becomes easier to set your training objectives.
2. Set organizational training objectives:
The training needs assessment (organizational, task & individual) will identify gaps in your current training initiatives and employee skill sets/knowledge. These gaps should be analyzed, prioritized, and turned into the organization’s training objectives.
A training objective should:
- Clearly state the purpose and expected outcome of the training.
- Employ the parameters of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) methodology.
- Align with the company’s broader objective and contribute to it.
- Offer different options for hybrid, in-person, and online programs.
- Identify additional barriers to training. E.g., Do employees need time off to take training?
Remember, any training program aims to set the employee up for success. Establish clear and measurable objectives for the training program. Define what skills and knowledge employees should acquire and outline the expected outcomes. These objectives will serve as a roadmap for designing the training content.
3. Create a training action plan:
The next step is to create a comprehensive action plan that includes learning theories, instructional design, content, materials, and other training elements. Start by designing relevant training modules that are engaging and aligned with organizational goals. Consider using various instructional methods, such as workshops, e-learning platforms, and on-the-job training, to cater to diverse learning styles.
Next, Assess the resources required to implement the training program effectively. This includes trainers, training materials, technology tools, and facilities. Allocate the necessary budget and secure resources to ensure a seamless training experience.
Create a timeline that outlines the sequence and duration of each training module. Consider factors such as employee availability, work schedules, and organizational priorities. Communicate the timeline to employees and stakeholders to manage expectations.
Many companies pilot their initiatives and gather feedback to adjust well before launching the program company-wide.
4. Implement training initiatives:
The implementation phase is where the training program comes to life. Program implementation should consider the timeline, employee engagement, learning KPI goals, and related resources (facilities, equipment, etc.). Participant progress should be monitored during training to ensure the program is effective.
5. Evaluate & revise training:
The last segment mentions that the training program should be continually monitored. Ultimately, the entire program should be evaluated to determine if it was successful and met training objectives. Assess the effectiveness of each training module through learning evaluations like Explorance Metrics that Matter (MTM). MTM offers best-practice KPIs, Smartsheet evaluations, and measurement strategies, as well as the world’s largest validated source of learning effectiveness benchmarks (1.5 billion data points).
The training program or action plan can be revised or reassessed if objectives or expectations are not met.
Training programs are essential to organizational success for several reasons. Firstly, they equip employees with the skills and knowledge needed to perform their roles effectively, resulting in increased productivity and improved job performance. Secondly, training programs foster employee engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates and a positive work environment.
Additionally, by investing in employee development, organizations demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement and create opportunities for career growth, which boosts morale and motivation. Moreover, training programs enable organizations to adapt to technological advancements and industry changes, ensuring their workforce remains competent and competitive. Ultimately, a well-executed training program not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to the overall success and growth of the organization.
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