Instructional design Workplace training E-learning

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.


How to choose the right learning method for your staff

I can hear you say, this is all great, but how do I know which method suits my employees best?

Choosing the right type of training for your staff depends on many aspects, including what their training needs are, how they learn, what the goal of training is, your budget and how much time you want to spend on training.  Deloitte says that:

Corporate training departments must become ‘learning experience architects’ (to use a term from design thinking), building a compelling and dynamic experience for employees and helping employees learn how to learn.

First off, not everyone likes to learn the same way. Broadly speaking, types of learning can be divided into:

  • Visual - learning by seeing
  • Auditory - learning by hearing
  • Kinaesthetic - learning by doing

For someone whose learning style is auditory, video training might be a good fit or a blended learning mix of classroom-style training and online learning. An employee who thrives on getting their hands dirty and learn by doing, interactive training and gamification might be right up their alley.

It’s a challenge though to cater to every employees’ specific learning needs when providing training. Having the option to provide a range of different learning styles and reporting options within one platform, like with the GoSkills LMS, could save you time and money.

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Other factors to keep in mind when deciding on the best way to train your staff are:

1. The training environment

Does staff need to work with equipment to get the best learning results? If so, hands-on training is probably your best option.

2. Proximity

It’ll be more cost-effective most of the time to facilitate learning at work or allow employees to do it remotely, when and where they want.

3. Cost of training

Trying to match your staff’s learning preferences with available training is no small feat, and it can be costly too. But it could be easier to accommodate a large group of people with a mix of different online training methods with which they can learn at their own pace.


4. Time demands on staff

Taking employees off their jobs to attend a full-day training course is often more difficult to organize as well as costly.

5. Employee satisfaction

Research by Deloitte shows that in order for organizations to get the most out of their employee training, they should realize that staff are in the driver’s seat; “employees need to be viewed as customers to be satisfied, rather than as students to be pressured into traditional learning classrooms.”

So in short, allowing employees to have some control over learning content, schedules and mediums could lead to more effective learning across the organization.

You’ll get the best results when you offer personalized learning opportunities for staff when they need it, throughout their careers.

Wrapping it up

For the best employee satisfaction and uptake of training, organizations should move towards creating a curated learning experience for their employees.

The good news is that there are many different, and flexible, ways to offer learning opportunities to your employees. The use of technology to create a blended learning experience where staff can reap the benefit of in-person training as well as having access to bite-sized content how and when they want, it is a great way to make your learning opportunities appeal to a large cross-section of staff.

Keeping in mind what you aim to achieve by training your employees, what your budget is and what your staff’s different learning preferences are, will help you create a fit-for-purpose learning environment within your organization.

Are you ready to get the ball rolling and invest in your employee training? Use the GoSkills LMS to support their learning and development, quickly customizing learning for every employee with just a few clicks.

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Sara Meij

Sara Meij

Sara is a digital communications expert and former journalist with a passion for writing. In her spare time she loves Latin dancing and getting outdoors to run, hike or mountain bike.