7 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Employee Training Program

By Maria Forbes
October 16, 2020

Cultivating highly productive and motivated employees requires effective employee development or training programs.  At every level of responsibility within your company, development plans are a key to success.  Owners should not expect a recently hired employee to perform a role without the right guidance. Employees that are tossed into a new job with unplanned and infrequent development training typically perform poorly because they are missing necessary aspects of their role that enable success.  A recent HR study found that approximately 40% of new employees will quit within the first year if they are not properly trained.  A year without proper training and development is risky; we know that a new team member’s first ninety days is critical to their success long term.

#1) Begin ASAP

Training should begin immediately upon planning for a new position.  The longer you wait to train a new employee, the greater the chance of him or her developing bad work habits. The risk of a new employee may becoming complacent, develop unproductive work habits, or delivering misaligned results, becomes greater with every passing month.  By training new employees immediately, they’ll start off on the right foot. They will know how the requirements for their role and develop good work habits that contribute to their professional success and that of the company.

#2) Small Steps First

Training can be overwhelming for new employees. Some companies have extensive training programs that last several months or longer. While ongoing or continuing education training is a best practice,  the processes should be scheduled to enable members to process what they are learning and to apply it.  Plan for incremental learning so that employees can fully utilize new knowledge.
Enduring long too many long and consecutive training sessions won’t benefit an employee or your company. They may participate but they the information is a challenge to fully absorb.  Avoid information overload and maintain enthusiasm for learning training should be timed with appropriate workloads to enable application before the next session begins. As a result, knowledge is retained and employees can achieve proficiency.

#3) Designate Leaders as Trainers

You can leverage existing employees to improve the effectiveness of your training program. If an employee exhibits strong leadership skills, he or she may be valuable in delivering some aspects of training. Employees that have a strong sense of leadership in their role are not typically hesitant to take initiative. They have an innate desire to perform their best.  Employees that lead in their role can add peer to peer value in training.  They can show new employees how to succeed at their jobs by setting a proper example.
Many new employees are also more comfortable being trained by an existing employee rather than a manager or other high-level professional. They’ll feel less pressured when being trained by another employee.  Awareness of learning outcomes will help you to understand the efficacy of your training processes.  Peer leaders can reduce some pressure of learning, making it easier for new employees to acquire more knowledge.

#4) Encourage Questions

Don’t forget to encourage new employees to ask questions during training. An effective training program requires two-way communication. New employees are bound to have questions about the material.  Open the forum to questions that may be more important to one member than another, ensuring there is not pressure to comply, rather to learn.  From questions on the proper procedure for dealing with client issues to questions that indicate an unfamiliarity with software or other technology applications, all questions are real and provide worthwhile data points for making training effective.
Encouraging employees to ask questions will create a more dynamic training program. Even if a topic isn’t covered specifically, new employees can learn by asking questions.

#5) Re-evaluate Training Material

When was the last time you changed your company’s training material?  Leaders can be guilty of using outdated training material which offers little or no value in the current business condition.  Think about a refresh; using the same content year after year will lead new employees down the wrong learning path, leave them yearning for current approaches and taking longer to perform successfully.
As policies and strategic decisions within your company shift, so should training methods. To ensure new employees are given the knowledge needed to excel, regular updates are essential to success.  Set regular training evaluations to determine whether updates are needed.

#6) Engage in Cross-Training

Cross-training can improve the effectiveness of your employee training program. What is cross-training exactly? It’s a method that involves training employees in two or more jobs simultaneously. If you hire two new employees for different jobs, you may be able to train them together — assuming their jobs are connected in some way. Known as a cross-training, it will benefit both employees.
Many employees are required to communicate with one another regularly. They may have different roles, but they must work together as part of a team. Planned cross-training helps to sustain performance through change.  Cross-training allows you to show employees how each role is performed and when it is necessary to communicate.  You will improve collaborative skills.

#7) Keep It Going

Training can benefit all employees, including those who’ve been with your company for many years. It’s not something that you should restrict to new employees. Rather, make training an ongoing learning process so all employees will benefit. With ongoing training, you can correct bad habits and prevent impediments to productivity and business performance.  Ongoing training helps to refresh job-related information for existing employees.  Performance can suffer in any role when teams miss opportunities to learn.
Make training a part of your strategic planning for every role in your company.  A lack of ongoing training will cause business stagnation and increase the risk of declining value and loss of market share. Create a learning environment and watch your teams out perform their goals.

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