Instructional design Elearning Workplace training

10 minute read

Training Methods For Employees: What Works Best?

Sara Meij

Sara Meij

You reap what you sow, they say. That’s particularly important in a work environment, where your aim is to retain staff, improve their effectiveness and create a work culture in which people feel valued.

Research has shown that organizations that provide their employees with high-quality training are also significantly better at creating an environment successful in retaining staff.

Aside from staff retention, training employees can also have more specific goals, such as improving employee job performance, increasing personal development, changing attitudes and achieving a competitive edge as a company.

There’s no one particular method to train your employees and one size doesn’t fit all. So let’s have a look at the different methods you could use to train your employees.


Types of training methods for employees

1. Instructor-led classroom training

This is the most common way of training and the most widely used. Instructor-led classroom training can take you right back to school or university days.

The training sessions are usually led by an instructor or qualified facilitator, either at the workplace or in a different venue, over one or more days. Sessions can be interactive, or mind-blowingly boring if you have to sit through a day of presentation slides.

A benefit of this style of training is that you can train a lot of employees at once and you have a ‘human’ element to the training, which can lack in online training. But there are quite a few disadvantages of instructor-led classroom training. It’s costly because of venue hire, catering, travel and getting the facilitator to do the training. It’s difficult to plan around people’s workloads to get them to attend a full or multi-day course and the training is often perceived as boring.

2. Interactive/active training

Think role-playing, workshops, quizzes, demonstrations and small group studies. Interactive (or active) training is, as the name implies, a very hands-on way of learning, actively involving staff in their own learning experience.

It can be time-consuming though because it’s often done in person and employees need a lot of regular feedback to make it worthwhile. Job shadowing can also be useful to get a better idea of other roles within the organization and how they interlace with the employees’ own role. You may wish to use interactive training for specific, short term purposes and use another method, like online training for more continuous learning.

3. Online training

With technology well and truly embedded in our daily lives, organizations are realizing the potential of using technology to successfully deliver on employee training needs. Online learning is not a novelty anymore, it’s becoming an expected part of professional development.

According to Deloitte, the best learning systems can “easily integrate any type of digital content and allow learners, as well as business managers, to add and suggest content”.

There are a number of different ways of presenting online training opportunities to staff.


4. Microlearning

Most employees don’t have a lot of time in their workweek to focus on personal development or upskilling. On top of that, it only takes five to ten seconds for a person to decide to stay engaged with a piece of content or to move onto something else.

So you’re dealing with time constraints on your employees as well as, in general across your workforce, a short attention span. Microlearning might be helpful to embed continuous learning into your employees’ workweek, instead of focusing on big chunks of training at once.

Microlearning features short (usually between 3 to 6 minutes), focused lessons using videos, quizzes, and games, designed to meet a specific learning goal. Microlearning has been shown to increase engagement by 50 percent and boost knowledge retention while cutting development costs by half.

5. Video training

Visual learning is powerful and the combination of sound and visual content makes it easier for people to retain the information that’s being taught. Employees can rewind or pause the video and they never need to miss any part of the lesson. Unlike classroom-style training, they can go back and have another listen. Downsides are that it’s more static and less interactive than in-person training when used alone, without supplementary resources like quizzes.

6. Blended learning

Some people learn best in a classroom-style training, with an instructor. But it might be more beneficial to a larger cross-section of staff and be more cost-effective to combine online learning with face-to-face education. Enter blended learning: a mix of the two.

To you as an employer, blended learning has the benefit of providing a more personalized learning experience to your employees with something for everyone, saving time on planning out curricula and being able to track engagement and more easily identify skill gaps.

For your employees, blended learning has the benefits of being accessible and flexible by allowing staff to learn in their own time and remotely. It accommodates different types of learners better than traditional classroom training because staff have the opportunity to learn in-person as well as access resources online to optimize their learning experience.

7. Gamification

Using games and challenges to impact employee behavior is the key to gamification. It works by turning learning into a game, motivating staff by giving them the opportunity to gain recognition and rewards and by providing real-time feedback. This may be in the form of badges earned for unlocking a level of achievement, quizzes, and leaderboards for healthy competition amongst colleagues.

Good examples of successful games in the workplace are ones that are personalized to whoever is playing it with the opportunity to grow and do increasingly more difficult challenges. And let’s not forget, adding a bit of humor to the game doesn’t hurt.