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 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.
So, why do organizations need an employee training and development plan? What’s in it for them? Rest assured, companies who focus on adequate training and career growth stand to gain a lot, including:
1. 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.
Training and development opportunities are often deciding factors when evaluating job offers.
2. 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. Taking this a step further, higher employee retention means organizations save on the cost of hiring and training a replacement.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Fewer skill gaps and shortages
Skill shortages are real. Research from the Association for Talent Development states that a whopping 83 percent of organizations have skill gaps. Training and development programs help 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.
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:
- 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:
- 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
4. Group training: An employee learns along with a group, such as being educated about a new company-wide process. Examples of this are:
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.
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As with any other type of new initiative you take on, a training and development plan isn’t something that you can create and then step back and watch as it works its magic.
It requires 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 plans.
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:
This 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 and development.
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 learn, 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.
4. Commit to constant improvement
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.
Keep up with trends in corporate learning and training delivery. And when you gather feedback from learners 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’ve heard that gamification could make your training more engaging and compelling. And who hasn’t noticed that social media platforms are catering to shorter attention spans with just-in-time bites of content? Incorporating these elements will show that you’re looking out for your employees and will yield better results.
Plus, this commitment to constant improvement will prevent your training programs from getting stale.
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 an employee learning program in the form of training 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 training provider, what should you keep an eye out for? Here are a few must-have features:
- Flexibility: Your LMS should have the 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.
- Ready-to-go courses: Seamless access to ready-made training content and resources.
- 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.
- Customization: Ability to customize and create your own content within the learning platform.
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 the GoSkills Learning Management System.
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