Workplace training E-learning

11 minute read

Your Guide to Employee Training and Development

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

You want your employees to perform their jobs well. But, how do you make that happen?

Sure, you give them industry-leading tools and software. You keep your proverbial door open to answer questions when they have them. You try to make tasks and processes as manageable as possible. 

Those are all important, but there’s one more big thing that needs to be added to your list — adequate employee training

Employee training

What is employee training and development?

Employee training is the process of equipping employees with the guidance, knowledge, and resources they need to excel in their positions.

Training and development are often said in the same breath, but there’s actually a slight difference between the two terms:

Employee training

Providing targeted instruction for how to perform specific duties, complete tasks, use tools, etc.

EXAMPLE: You create a step-by-step process to teach employees how to submit a support request to the helpdesk.

Employee development

Offering coaching and backing to help employees expand their skill sets, advance their careers, and grow within your organization.

EXAMPLE: An employee wants to become better at public speaking, so you provide access to seminars, courses, and opportunities that help them improve. 

See the difference? Training is focused on a job-specific responsibility or process, while development zooms out to support employees in achieving their overall career goals.

Even though the two are slightly different, they really do go hand-in-hand — especially since they build off of one another. After all, adequate employee training lays the foundation that employees need to do their jobs well before they set their sights on further career development.

Employee training

What are the benefits of employee training and development?

So, why do organizations need employee training and development? What’s in it for them? Rest assured, companies who focus on adequate training and career growth stand to gain a lot, including: 

  • More competitive recruitment: Employees want to receive the education and support they need to do their jobs well. In fact, one Gallup study found that 87 percent of Millennials consider development to be important in their jobs. Training and development programs are something you can (and should) tout in your recruitment materials to attract more top-notch talent to your open roles.
  • Increased employee retention: Opportunities for learning and career growth can also encourage your best employees to stick around, as they feel valued and supported in their careers. A report from LinkedIn states that 94 percent of employees say they would stay at a company if it invested in helping them learn.
  • Boosted employee morale: Employee satisfaction and happiness are also key to a positive culture and low turnover. Think of it this way: When employees feel like they have what they need to do their jobs well, they’re far more likely to enjoy their work. That leads to improved morale across your team and organization. 

Employee training

  • Increased productivity: Similarly, when your employees have the foundation they need to perform their tasks, they’re not only able to do them more effectively but also more efficiently. That means positive things for the output of your team.
  • Less skill gaps and shortages: Skill shortages are real. Research from the Association for Talent Development states that a whopping 83 percent of organizations have skills gaps. Training and development helps companies plug those holes by guiding their existing employees in learning new competencies that serve the organization.

Combine all of those benefits together, and you have the biggest benefit of them all — improved organizational performance. 

Are there different types of employee training?

When you think of employee training, it’s easy to picture a dry seminar or tutorial. Shake that dated view of what effective training looks like.

As employee development has moved to center stage, there are tons of different employee training methods that help you deliver knowledge to employees in a way that resonates best with them. These types of employee training can include:

1. One-on-one training: An employee is matched up with somebody who can walk them through processes, answer questions, and provide support. Examples of this are:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Job shadowing

2. Hands-on training: An employee learns a new skill or process by doing it, rather than being told about it. Examples of this are: 

  • Simulations
  • Stretch assignments

3. Online training: An employee is trained through an elearning experience, which allows them to learn at their own pace. Examples of this are:

  • Interactive online courses
  • Online workshops or seminars
Employee training - GoSkills courses
GoSkills offer a range of award-winning business courses to upskill your team

4. Group training: An employee learns along with a group, such as being educated about a new company-wide process. Examples of this are:

  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Conferences

5. Assessments: An employee is evaluated so that they and their employer can get a grasp on where they currently stand with regard to skills and knowledge. Examples of this are: 

  • 360-degree performance reviews
  • 9-box grid, which is a common individual assessment tool
  • Skill gap analysis 

Of course, there is a lot of overlap between these different types of employee training, and numerous methods are often used in conjunction with one another to create a comprehensive and helpful employee training and development program. 

How can you effectively implement employee training and development programs?

As with any other type of new initiative you take on, training and development programs aren’t something that you can create and then step back and watch as they work their magic.

They require active participation, engagement, monitoring, and improvement — not just from the employee, but from the organization as well.

With that in mind, let’s cover a few best practices for effective employee training and development programs. 

1. Set helpful training goals

Employees need visibility into not only what training programs they’re undertaking, but also how those initiatives will help them. Why should they care? What will this program accomplish?

One of the best ways to do this is by setting SMART training goals. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound 

Employee trainingThis gives employees a tangible target to work toward, rather than participating in training and development opportunities because they feel like they have to. Set these goals in partnership with your employees, so they feel involved in their own education and growth. 

2. Get buy-in from leadership

Effective training starts from the top down, and you’ll have a hard time engaging employees in your offerings if your leadership team and executives remain tight-lipped about them.

Unfortunately, while 83 percent of learning and development professionals say their executives support employee learning, only 27 percent say their leaders are active champions of employee learning.

So make sure that all of your organization’s managers are looped in on your programs, what you hope to accomplish with them, and how they can best support their own teams. When leadership buys-in, it’s more likely that employees will too. 

3. Involve your employees

Training objectives and programs shouldn’t just be handed down from on high. Instead, you should be involving and actively listening to your employees to ensure you’re offering opportunities that support them in their own career desires and objectives.

In addition to what they want to be learning, you should also ask how they want to learn it. Perhaps you’ve been offering a lot of real-time seminars, but your employees would prefer online training that they can fit into their own schedules.

Consistently ask for feedback so you can deliver training and development programs that meet your employees’ needs — rather than adding yet another thing to their to-do lists.

Employee training

4. Commit to constant learning

Feedback is only valuable if you act on it. That means your employees aren’t the only ones who should be learning. You should be too. 

As you gather more input about what’s working well and what isn’t, use that information to make strategic changes and improve your training and development offerings moving forward.

For example, maybe you hear that gamification could make your training more engaging and compelling. Incorporate those aspects so you prove that you’re actually taking your employee’s ideas to heart. Plus, this commitment to constant improvement will prevent your training programs from getting stale.

gamification status levels - goskills lms
Gamification status levels in the GoSkills LMS make learning fun and engaging

What should you look for in an employee training provider? 

When talking about employee training, you can’t neglect the importance of online training. Convenience matters more than ever, which means many employees prefer learning opportunities that allow them to tackle topics at their own pace. 

That’s why many organizations have implemented online learning platforms or a learning management system (LMS) like GoSkills that helps them manage all of their development and training needs in one place. 

But, if you’re considering looking for your own employee training provider, what should you keep an eye out for? Here are a few must-have features:

  • Flexibility: Your LMS should have flexibility to grow right along with your team.
  • Ease of use: Employees will only use your LMS if it’s intuitive. Look for something that prioritizes user-friendliness and isn’t too daunting for your employees.
  • Microlearning: Microlearning features short lessons on a topic and is often far more manageable for employees.
  • Gamification: Game-based learning makes topics far more compelling with rewards, badges, leaderboards, and more.

GoSkills has these features, plus tons more that will help your team ace their learning objectives. Ready to kick off your employee training and development programs? Get started with GoSkills today.

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Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. When she escapes her computer, she enjoys reading, hiking, golfing, and dishing out tips for prospective freelancers on her website.

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