While most businesses offer new employees training, very few understand the importance of continuous education and improvement. This lack of ongoing learning opportunities can result in high turnover rates and loss of competitive advantage.
Therefore, if you want your business to succeed, you must invest in continuous training programs.
Of course, doing so may require time and money. However, this is a small price to pay when you consider your company’s potential growth and prosperity. Here are a few effective ways to improve your training program and your business as a whole.
1. Make It Interesting
If you’re looking to improve your training program, odds are there have been some moans and groans around the office and whispers of training being boring. Frankly, the rumors might even be true. Employees only have 1% of their work time to devote to professional development, and if that includes watching a childish, uninteresting video, they’ll disengage. That five minutes of training will go in one ear and out the other.
Therefore, you must strive to make training interesting, no matter how long or short it is. While content obviously plays a crucial role, the delivery is even more important. Employees will express the most interest if the content is informative and they’re learning things that are pertinent to their job right now. For instance, when workers face a change, preparing for a new challenge or looking to improve, they’ll be more apt to pay attention and retain the information.
2. Survey Your Employees
You can’t always wait for high-motivation moments to train your employees. Moreover, you can’t bank on everyone expressing interest, even if the information is pertinent. Sometimes, you won’t even be aware there is a lack of resources or knowledge in a certain department. Therefore, you should survey your employees periodically to ensure everyone still understands their job description and the ever-changing landscape of your business.
Ask employees to fill out a survey specific to their department. Do they think something needs changing? What kind of training do they prefer? Is there anything their boss could be a bit more transparent about? Your employees will appreciate your interest and will likely be more than happy to give you their feedback. Take their suggestions to heart when deciding what subject matter to cover in training.
3. Revise the Format
Sometimes, the only way to make training interesting is to revise how employees receive the information. For example, if they sit in front of a computer screen all day, switch things up with an in-person training session with an engaging instructor. Likewise, if you deliver most information through e-mail or the office announcement board, consider making a training video or audio clip to give their minds a rest.
You might also modify the format to meet various employees where they are. Baby boomers might prefer to complete their training in a classroom setting or flip through a physical pamphlet. Meanwhile, millennials and Generation Z may want the option to train on their laptop or mobile device. As you consider the different learning styles and team member preferences, try offering something that appeals to each one.
If you already have a training program for each department and find them effective, consider cross-training your employees. This approach is especially beneficial to small businesses that can’t afford to lose even a single worker. By cross-training your team, you can ensure that everyone has varied skills and can use them to fill in for each other if need be.
In larger businesses and corporations, cross-training might promote innovation and creativity. When employees understand each department’s significance and their role within the company, they can more easily collaborate and find ingenious solutions to various dilemmas. They may even be able to solve problems on an individual level if they receive training in multiple departments. Additionally, these employees can train others and help everyone succeed.
5. Include Soft Skills
When you’re looking to hire employees, you seek those who meet all the requirements and have various degrees and certifications. However, you’re also looking for people with soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking and interpersonal communication.
In fact, more than 91% of employers are actively seeking signs of candidates’ problem-solving abilities. Meanwhile, roughly 80% want employees with a strong worth ethic and analytical skills. Other top attributes include leadership traits, initiative, organizational capacity and strategic planning skills.
Therefore, it may be beneficial to include soft skills in your training schedule. These abilities can improve customer service initiatives, fill management positions and offer a new perspective on operations. As you construct your training program, strike a balance between teaching hard and soft skills and create a needs assessment to determine what your team needs to work on. Then, offer opportunities for practice, application, and both individual and collaborative growth.
6. Incentivize Learning
Some training, like for OSHA safety requirements, is necessary and non-negotiable, while other modules and courses may be optional. Although this education isn’t necessarily essential to the job description, it is beneficial for employees and their professional growth. Moreover, those who continue to learn naturally become profitable assets of the company. Therefore, it may be wise to incentivize training.
Weave a philosophy of lifelong learning into your company culture and increase employee engagement by offering them more opportunities to participate and educate themselves. Then, give raises and bonuses to those who follow through and complete training. Give preference to those who finished their courses when considering promotions. Celebrate achievements and let everyone know when someone in the company succeeds. The more appealing you make training, the more likely employees will be to engage with it and learn new things.
Be Flexible and Keep Up
Given the rapid growth of today’s marketplace and the ever-evolving digital world, certain skills and information can quickly become archaic and useless. Therefore, it’s best to practice flexibility and continuously strive to improve employee training. Roll out new, up-to-date courses in small doses and don’t prepare anything too far in advance. Otherwise, you may wind up teaching obsolete information, and your competition will leave you in the dust.