In today’s highly demanding business landscape, the knowledge, skills, and adaptability of an organization’s employees can literally make or break its chance of success.
Your employees are the ones who develop your products or services, interact with your customers, and keep your business running. Whether they are properly equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge can be the most significant factor affecting your business’s growth and success.
This is why it’s very important to invest in employee training.
Effective employee training programs go beyond individual skill development but can help enhance productivity, innovation, and employee engagement. Yet, with so many different types of employee training programs available, what is the best way to start?
In this article, we will discuss 7 of the most effective employee training programs and how you can use them to improve your workforce and your business. We will also provide a list of resources where you can learn more about employee training and especially how to find the right training programs for your unique needs.
Let us begin.
Employee Training Program: The Concept
An employee training program, simply put, is a structured and organized program (effort or initiative) designed to help employees acquire new knowledge/skills or enhance their existing ones.
Training programs can be delivered in a variety of formats, including but not limited to:
- In-person training: Training in a physical setting, such as a physical classroom or a workshop in a specific venue. Typically with one instructor or more leading the training.
- Virtual classroom: Online sessions (i.e., via video conference or webinar software) featuring one or more instructors delivering their lessons in an online setting. Virtual classrooms can be live or on-demand.
- E-learning: On-demand e-learning modules that are entirely online, and the employees can learn at their own pace. They typically include video modules and interactive elements for engagements.
- Microlearning: A type of training where the training content is broken down into smaller segments that are designed to be consumed in short bursts. An ideal program for busy schedules.
- On-the-job training: In this format, employees learn while also performing their regular job tasks. Typically the employee learns under the guidance of experienced senior employees or dedicated mentors/teachers
- Mentorship and coaching: One-on-one support and guidance from a more experienced employee or dedicated teacher.
- Peer learning: In this type of learning, the employee learns from their colleagues through collaborations, solving problems together, or knowledge sharing.
- Simulations and role-playing: Simulation exercises allow employees to practice their decision-making skills in real-world scenarios.
- Workshops and seminars: Short and in-depth training sessions that focus on specific topics (or specific skills) may involve hands-on activities.
- Blended learning: A combination of multiple formats, for example, a mix of in-person and online classrooms, to create a more flexible and/or comprehensive training experience.
Benefits of An Effective Employee Training Program
Having an effective employee training program is a strategic move that can elevate both the employee’s and the organization’s productivity in various ways:
- Improved employee performance: Proper training ensures the employees are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills required to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. Ultimately, this leads to improved productivity, fewer errors, greater efficiency in production, and better customer service.
- Enhanced employee engagement and satisfaction: Employees who receive proper training often feel they are valued and supported by their employers and are more confident in performing their jobs. This can lead to a sense of satisfaction, so they are more likely to be engaged with their jobs. In turn, this can enhance your team’s morale and reduce turnover rates.
- Improved customer satisfaction: Well-equipped employees are more likely to be knowledgeable about the company’s products and services, so they can provide higher-quality customer service. Well-trained employees can help customers resolve issues more efficiently and quickly.
- Better adaptability: Training can equip employees to stay updated with the latest industry trends, upcoming challenges, and emerging technologies. This allows the organization as a whole to have better adaptability.
- Improved competitive advantage: Effective training programs can help organizations build a workforce that is able to stay competitive while meeting current and future challenges. In turn, this helps create a better competitive advantage for the business.
- Increased skills and knowledge: Proper training programs can help employees acquire new skills and knowledge and improve existing ones. This won’t only make them more efficient and productive in their jobs but can help them develop their career further.
- Improved chance of success: When employees are properly equipped to do their jobs effectively, they are more likely to be successful in their careers and achieve their goals.
- Enhanced job satisfaction: Employees who feel that they are invested in, supported by their employers, and are constantly growing, are more likely to be satisfied with their employment. This can result in higher loyalty and retention.
- More career opportunities: Employees with better knowledge and skills are more marketable in the job market, leading to better career development opportunities.
Key Characteristics of Effective Employee Training Programs
So, what makes a good employee training program?
Here are some essential elements:
- Clear training objectives
An effective training program is one that has clear, well-defined objectives. What do you want the new hires to be able to know or do after completing the training?
Here are some examples of good training program objectives:
- Improving a specific skill
- Equipping employees with specific knowledge
- Enhancing product knowledge
- Improving customer service levels
- Boosting sales
Why is this important? Well-defined objectives provide direction to the training program and ensure the program is focused on achieving its objectives. Clarity also helps drive the participant’s engagement and motivation.
- Personalization and customization to employee needs
A good training program shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Instead, an effective program should be personalized to meet the specific skill levels, needs, and priorities of the employee taking the training.
Why is this important? Personalization ensures that the training program is relevant, effective, and engaging for each participant. Customization maximizes the relevance of the training program so it’s more effective and engaging. Ultimately, this can lead to improved results and increased participant satisfaction.
- Engaging content and delivery methods
You won’t be able to properly engage training participants if the content is not good enough.
The content, and the method in which content is delivered, should be relevant, engaging, and interactive.
You can use a variety of training methods to deliver your content, and one method may work better with certain types of content than the others. Here are some examples:
- Traditional lectures
- Group activities
- Hands-on learning
- Multimedia presentations
- Interactive workshops
- Case studies
Why is this important? Engaging content ensures participants are engaged and motivated, so they are actively involved in the learning process. When participants are engaged and enjoy the program, they are more likely to retain the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired.
- Regular evaluation and feedback
Even if a training program is already engaging and effective, it’s important to ensure continuous improvement.
Make sure to regularly evaluate the training program to ensure it is effective in achieving its objectives and assess the program’s impact. It’s best to solicit feedback from participants and assess the program’s content, delivery methods, and overall effectiveness. Use these insights to fine-tune and improve the training’s quality over time.
Why is this important? Regular evaluation and active solicitation of feedback ensure that the training program remains relevant and effective and can adapt to meet the changing needs of employers and employees.
Top 7 Most Effective Employee Learning Programs
Among many different types and formats of employee learning programs available, we have carefully selected the ten most effective ones based on our assessment.
We’ve made sure that these top training programs embody the key characteristics we have discussed above: clear training objectives, personalization to specific needs, engaging content and delivery methods, and regular evaluation/feedback.
- Orientation Training
- On-the-Job Training
- Instructor-Led Training
- Computer-Based Training
- Peer-to-Peer Learning
- Action Learning
Let’s start with the first one.
- Orientation Training
Orientation training programs are also often known as onboarding. It is the process of introducing and integrating the hires into the company itself, their new role, the company’s policies/procedures, the team members, and the culture, among others.
Orientation training is a critical first step for new employees as they start a new journey within a company, and it serves several key purposes:
- Introduction: An orientation training program introduces a new employee to the company and its culture. This can be a critical first step to help them become familiar with their new workplace.
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities: The orientation program can help employees learn about their new roles and responsibilities, as well as the KPIs and expectations associated with this new role.
- Ensuring compliance: A key purpose of orientation training is to educate employees about company policies, procedures, and relevant laws/regulations that affect the company’s day-to-day operations. Proper orientation helps employees stay compliant with these regulations and procedures, especially those related to conduct, ethics, and safety.
- Reducing anxiety: A well-crafted orientation program can help reduce anxiety among new hires. This can help foster a sense of belonging for the new hire, which may lead to improved employee satisfaction.
- Accelerating integration: Employees who undergo well-structured orientation training programs tend to integrate faster into the new working environment, leading to better productivity.
Examples of successful orientation training programs
Here are a few notable examples of successful orientation training programs:
- Google: Google’s orientation program for new hires (called “Noogler”) combines various structured learning activities (i.e., workshops, team-building exercises, etc.) with opportunities to interact and connect with senior employees and leaders. These activities help the Nooglers explore Google’s unique company culture and values, as well as the skills and knowledge needed to perform in their role.
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines also offers a unique and effective orientation program that includes a variety of fun-filled activities like games and dancing/singing together to help new hires interact with other employees and learn about the company’s values in an engaging way.
When an orientation training program is well-executed, it can create an important positive first impression on the new employees. This may improve the new hires’ confidence and ensure successful integration, setting the stage for them to be productive and successful in their new roles.
2. On-The-Job Training
On-the-job training (OJT) is a type of training program where the employees (new or otherwise) learn new skills or knowledge in their actual work environments.
OJT offers a number of inherent values, including:
- Practical experience: Also often known as hands-on training, OJT is an effective way for employees to learn new skills or knowledge with a “learning by doing” approach. By allowing employees to apply theoretical knowledge directly to real work situations, this approach is often the best way to learn practical and complex skills.
- Direct context: The OJT approach allows employees to learn directly in the real-world context of their roles. This can be very effective in helping them understand how to apply the skills they are learning to their specific day-to-day work.
- Immediate feedback: Hands-on training is typically performed in a real job setting with other (more senior) employees, providing the opportunity for the employees to get feedback from their peers or seniors in real time. This can be very valuable in helping them identify their mistakes, and understanding their strengths/weaknesses, which can accelerate the learning process.
- Adaptability: OJT naturally aligns with the pace of the task or job and can be easily customized to the individual needs of employees. This makes OJT especially suitable for companies that often change their processes and/or requirements.
Examples of successful on-the-job training programs
Here are some practical examples of effective OJT program implementations:
- Manufacturing companies can implement OJT to train new employees on how to operate equipment and machines. In this scenario, more experienced employees can help the new hires with hands-on mentorship on how to use the machines safely and efficiently.
- Retail companies or other businesses that directly interact with customers can use the OJT approach to train new employees on how to provide appropriate customer service. The company can pair new hires with experienced employees who provide hands-on training on how to answer customers’ questions and how to effectively resolve their problems.
- OJT is especially prominent in the healthcare industry, where medical professionals (i.e., doctors, nurses, surgeons) often undergo intensive OTJ training programs during their residency programs.
OJT is effective across a wide range of industries, not only in equipping employees with the essential knowledge and skills to perform their job well but also to adapt in the dynamic day-to-day work environments.
3. Instructor-Led Training
We shouldn’t underestimate traditional Instructor-Led Training (ILT) as an effective and efficient type of training program in various industries and contexts.
The ILT is delivered by a qualified instructor (or more than one instructor) in a traditional classroom setting and can offer a number of advantages, including:
- Interaction: ILT allows for two-way interactions between the employees and the instructors. This interaction can allow employees to easily find answers to their questions, clarify complex concepts, and provide feedback when necessary. Face-to-face interactions can also help foster personal connection and build a sense of accountability.
- Structured environment: The traditional ILT approach can offer a structured learning environment. This can benefit employees who prefer organized, structured, and goal-oriented learning environments.
- Focused learning: Contrary to on-the-job training, a dedicated classroom may allow participants to focus on the training at hand without the distractions commonly present in a work environment.
- Support and guidance: In a classroom setting, instructors can provide real-time guidance and support, ensuring participants can get more from each lesson.
Scenarios where instructor-led training programs excel
ILT has been widely used in various industries and contexts, and here are some instances where it excels:
- When a company adopts a new software application, the company invites a qualified instructor (i.e., provided by the software vendor) to teach employees on how to use this application. As a result, the employees are able to use this new software application more effectively.
- A company may provide ILT to its sales team that struggles to close deals. The instructor, for example, may teach new sales techniques to help the sales team close more deals.
- In industries with strict regulations, instruction-led compliance training may be effective in helping employees thoroughly understand and comply with legal requirements and safety protocols.
These are just a few examples of how ILT can be used as a highly engaging approach to help employees learn effectively. ILT is highly versatile and can be used to train employees on a variety of complex topics and in a variety of industries.
- Computer-based Training
Computer-Based Training, or CBT in short, is a versatile and powerful learning method that leverages computers (including mobile devices) to deliver training content. CBT can be instructor-led (i.e., scheduled webinars or virtual classrooms) or self-paced, and comes in various types and formats, including:
- Self-paced CBT: learners can complete their training at their own pace and on their own time. For example, via a website/web-app or an offline application.
- Instructor-led CBT: The training is delivered by an instructor, who will guide the learner through the training material. For example, via video conferencing.
- Synchronous CBT: The training is delivered to a group of employees at the same time.
- Asynchronous CBT: The training content can be accessed and completed by different learners at any time.
- Simulation-based CBT: This type of training uses simulations (i.e., via VR or AR) to create more engaging and immersive learning experiences.
- Game-based CBT: Uses games to make the CBT more interactive and engaging, often used to help learners learn more complex topics or concepts in an engaging way.
CBT can be used to train a wide range of topics and offers a number of benefits, including:
- Convenience: Especially self-paced CBT can be completed at the learner’s own convenience, which is ideal for employees with busy schedules or simply prefer more flexibility.
- Versatility: CBT can be accessed from anywhere, as long as there’s a computer (or a mobile device) and an internet connection. This makes CBT ideal for employees who travel frequently or remote teams.
- Consistency: CBT allows all employees to receive the same, standardized training regardless of when or where they complete the training program. It can be useful for companies with multiple branch offices and/or remote teams.
- Cost-effective: CBT is often more affordable than other types of training programs (i.e., traditional instructor-led training) since CBT doesn’t require renting a physical location or hiring an instructor.
- Scalability: Organizations can easily scale CBT programs to accommodate a bigger workforce or multiple (even global) locations without significant challenges.
Microlearning refers to a type of training program where the training content is delivered in smaller forms, designed to be consumed in short-focused bursts of learning.
Microlearning lessons typically can be completed in 3 to 5 minutes and can be delivered in a wide range of formats, including text-based forms, videos, or interactive content.
Studies have shown that microlearning is more effective for knowledge retention since it is aligned with the principles of cognitive psychology—how human brains naturally learn—, including:
- Spaced repetition: Since learning is spaced out over time, microlearning can prevent forgetting and reinforce knowledge/skills retention.
- Active learning: The smaller and practical form of content encourages learners to be more active in each lesson, so they’ll understand better.
- Chunking: Since information is presented in small, more manageable chunks, it’s easier for learners to consume, process, and remember the content.
Examples of effective microlearning in employee training
Microlearning can offer a positive impact for employees in various industries, for example:
- Companies can use microlearning to train their sales team by sharing short videos on product knowledge, competitor analysis, or for training new sales techniques.
- A customer service team can use microlearning via videos and short articles to train its members on how to de-escalate conflict, handle difficult customers, and provide better customer service.
- Manufacturing companies can use microlearning to train employees on new safety policies, for example, with short videos and quizzes
- Microlearning can be particularly effective for delivering compliance training. The bite-sized learning content allows employees to easily refresh their knowledge of industry regulations.
6. Peer-to-Peer Learning
Peer-to-peer learning is a type of training program in which an employee learns from another employee (typically with the same role and responsibilities) so they can learn from each other’s experiences, skills, and knowledge.
Peer-to-peer learning offers some unique benefits:
- Improved engagement: Peer-to-peer learning is often more engaging than other forms of training programs. People are naturally more engaged when they are learning from someone they are familiar with, including their peers.
- Better understanding: Peer-to-peer learning can help learners to better understand training content since they can discuss the materials with each other and freely ask questions.
- Contextual relevance: Colleagues typically have better understanding about the specific nuances and unique challenges of the workplace, so training content can be more relevant.
- Real-world application: Peer-to-peer learning often includes practical problem-solving and examples that aligns with the specific employee’s daily tasks.
- Fosters collaboration: P2P learning encourages employees to learn from one another and share their knowledge/skills, fostering a culture of collaboration.
Different forms of peer-to-peer learning programs
Peer-to-peer learning programs can come in a wide variety of forms, including:
- Job shadowing: a type of P2P learning where a less experienced employee (or a new hire) follows a more experienced one around to learn more about the senior employee’s day-to-day work.
- Mentorship program: assign a more experienced employee to mentor a less experienced employee to provide support and guidance for a specific period of time.
- Study groups: another common form of peer-to-peer learning, a group of learners meet regularly to discuss learning content, and help each other to learn the topic.
- Cross-training: a type of P2P learning in which employees with different roles learn how to do each other’s jobs. This can be useful in scenarios where employees need to work together on a project or to be capable of filling in for each other.
7. Action Learning
Action learning is a type of learning program that is focused on experiential learning and problem-solving. In this program, the learner (or a group of learners) is placed in real-world scenarios and is challenged to tackle complex real-world issues. The objective of action learning is so that the learner can learn by doing and reflecting on their hands-on experiences.
The action learning program typically involves giving an individual or a group a real-world problem and then asking them to:
- Identify the problem: the individual or the group defines the problem they are trying to solve.
- Analyze the problem: the learner analyzes the problem and tries to identify the root cause(s). The learner attempts to develop potential solutions based on the analysis results.
- Take action: the learner implements the potential solution(s).
- Reflect on the results: the learner analyzes the results of their implementation and identifies what they’ve learned from the action.
- Repeat and improve: The learner repeats the process until the problem is fully solved.
Examples of how organizations have applied action learning to their advantage
Various companies have applied action learning for a variety of purposes, which can provide a wide variety of advantages, including
- A manufacturing business can use action learning to improve the quality of its products, for example by forming a team of employees (from different departments) to identify issues that were causing quality problems.
- Companies can use action learning to improve their customer service. A company may form a team of employees from different stores to identify and solve problems that cause customer dissatisfaction.
- Action learning can help teams build trust and collaborate better. It can be used to enhance cross-functional teams to work together more effectively.
As we can see, there are many different types of training programs that companies can use to develop the knowledge and skills of employees.
Which one is the best? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Different types of organizations may benefit more from one type of training program than the others, depending on their specific goals and needs.
Yet, all the different training programs discussed in this article have been proven to be effective and can help your organization improve its workforce’s performance.
If you are looking to deliver a better training program for your employees, iTacit can be your partner. iTacit is an all-in-one employee engagement platform that can facilitate personalized training programs based on your employee’s specific needs and current skill levels. With iTacit, you can execute a variety of employee training programs, including those we’ve covered in this article.
Don’t hesitate to visit iTacit’s website to learn more about how it can help you develop your employees and improve employee engagement. Contact us right away to improve your workforce performance and organization productivity.