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How to Build a Wildly Impactful Employee Training Program
Every company wants to get their team members up to speed as fast as possible without breaking the bank – and to keep them there. It’s the more bang for your buck approach to employee training.
But very few companies actually have wildly impactful (or high impact) employee training programs.
The ones that do enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those with low impact training. But contrary to popular belief, they didn’t spend more to get these results.
No really – they simply invested in building an employee training program that produced sustained results. This means making sure what they trained on actually stuck. Here’s how you can make sure all your employee training programs do this:
Spoiler: Trainual – the top-rated employee training software – is the best tool for building wildly effective employee training programs for a fraction of the cost.
Step 1: Make sure every employee training has a point
This should go without saying, but you shouldn’t be running employee training just for the sake of. There needs to be a well-defined reason that leads to an intended impact. That’s the point!
Think about it this way. If you’re reading an essay and it has no clear thesis, will it have an impact on you? Probably not. But it will most likely leave you frustrated and feeling like you wasted your time.
Employee training is the same way. Except instead of a clear thesis, you need a point for why you’re running it.
This reason might be to close this skill gap, to refresh that outdated knowledge or, more generally, to align employees – just to name a few. But there has to be one.
Why employee training programs need a point
To know what should be covered
For one, it makes sure that you know what your training intends to do and what should be covered.
If the point was to teach someone to play basketball, you wouldn’t teach them how to tackle or kick a ball. You would focus on skills like dribbling, boxing out, and layups.
Plus, by knowing what should be covered, you can measure to see if it was a success. This means finding fundamental skills or knowledge points that they should know by the end. Then, actually measuring to see whether or not they learned them.
Such that if after your basketball training program, not one of your participants can make a layup, you probably wouldn’t consider that much of a success.
To really engage participants
Equally as important, you will also be able to better engage your team and get them gungho about the training. (And no – we are not just saying that!)
Remember the last employee training you sat through?
If I caught you right as you were leaving, you would probably say that it was boring, or tedious, or – dare, I say it – pointless.
That’s because chances are good, it was pointless! Or more likely that this point was not explained to you, so the training felt pointless. Either way, to an adult learner, these are one and the same.
Adults – like your employees – learn best when they know why they are learning something. That’s because they have prior knowledge that they want to be recognized.
Yes – prior knowledge, including their education, experiences, and expertise.
Perhaps the biggest mistake a company can make when running an employee training is to jump right into the training part, without stopping to explain why the participants need to know the information.
When this happens, adults tend to check out and they may even start to feel resentful toward the new information, even if it is helpful.
But by taking the time to explain the point before diving in you acknowledge their prior knowledge and make it clear why it will benefit them to know the material.
Step 2: Know what type of employee training to build
There are 3 types of employee training – onboarding training (also referred to as new employee training), ongoing employee training, and transitional training.
And each one focuses on a different point in an employee’s career with your company. That’s because the training that an employee needs on Day 1 is totally different from the training they’ll need 5 years in.
So sending both of them through the same employee training program doesn’t make sense. So, we know what types of employee training they are – but what exactly are they?
Onboarding training (also known as new employee training) is the part of the employee onboarding process where you get your new hires up to speed.
Centered around the new hire experience, onboarding training starts the moment they finish orientation and ends when they’re confident in their new role.
Most companies take a more hands-on approach to this type of training. And they combine several different employee training methods to accommodate a range of learning styles, experiences, and levels of expertise.
The goal of onboarding training is to teach them how you do what you do and plug them into your company’s culture.
Ongoing Employee Training
Ongoing employee training keeps your people up to speed – and on the same page. This includes any personal, team, department, or company-wide development.
Like getting the oil changed in your car, this type of training keeps everything running smoothly and efficiently.
But unlike oil changes, ongoing employee training isn’t as simple as running a session every 5,000 miles. Instead, you should consider this type of maintenance anytime there is a significant change to your product, policies, processes, or procedures.
This can be as simple as creating training content to reflect the new information and rolling it out company-wide. Or as elaborate as building a weeklong event – totally up to you!
Transitional Employee Training
Transitional training happens whenever someone at your company is promoted, changes teams, or has a significant change to their responsibilities.
And it occupies the middle ground between onboarding and ongoing employee training.
Like ongoing employee training, you need to recognize the employee’s prior knowledge.
But you also need to fill in the gaps that come with new responsibilities. Because of this, it’s typically best to take a more hands-on approach like onboarding training. That way, you cover all of the policies, processes, and procedures that the employee may not have needed for their last role.
Step 3: Create a comprehensive employee training plan
We like to think of employee training plans like roadmaps that makes it impossible to go off course. It is how exactly – being as specific as possible for each step of the way – you plan to train your employees to reach your intended impact – hence the name.
So, what does an employee training plan need to include to be comprehensive? Bare minimum, what the employees will learn, in what order, and when.
Let’s break that down.
What they’ll learn
List out all the skills and information that your employee will need to learn to make the intended impact. This list can be as limited or extensive as necessary.
But we find that it’s best practice to break it down into as many nuggets as possible. This way, learning a new software isn’t over-simplified to “learn the software,” but a list of basic functions and tactile ways to apply them.
If your team has prior knowledge on the subject, feel free to cross off what they already know. (Pro Tip: What type of employee training you are running should really inform what can be crossed off.)
And if you know for a fact (meaning you’ve tested or measured) that your employees already know something, feel free to skip it. But if you just think they know it, it’s best to recap the information before you dive in. This will leave less room for confusion.
Imagine it’s 1983. Microsoft Word just hit the market, and your company has it first.
But for your company to optimize it, they need to train their employees to use it. More specifically, they need to teach you the general functions, the ones related to your work, and how your projects will leverage it.
In what order
Now put all the skills or information on your list into a sequence that makes sense. This should consider what someone would need to know first to learn the next thing easier or faster – like learning to walk before you learn to run.
Going back to the Microsoft example, this would consider the fact that you need to know what functions are available before you learn how to apply them to your work.
Such that it is great that you can reorganize all your information at the touch of a button. But if you don’t know how to copy and paste, knowing this doesn’t do you any good.
When you have the sequence set, it’s time to create a timeline. Of course, you could always drop the training manual down and tell them to read. But this isn’t very effective.
Instead, we focus on how long it will take to not just cover the information, but for the employee to digest and retain it. If you go too fast, you risk information overload. On the flip side, if you go too slow, you risk losing your employees.
So how do you know the right speed?
Honestly, this depends on who you are teaching, what they are trying to learn, and choosing a super effective training method to make the information stickier.
Step 4: Update your employee training manual
Most companies know how important it is to have an employee training manual – one filled with the latest how-tos and need-to-knows. (And ideally, it is stored digitally in your employee training software, so it’s always easy to find.)
Yet, very few companies actually take the time to make sure their training manual is up to date. Meaning, they either continue to train with an out-dated training manual or just do without a training manual altogether. We really aren’t sure which is worse.
But we do know that this can equip employees with inconsistent information. And the longer this goes on, the more people start doing things their own way – even if it is less efficient or downright wrong.
The craziest thing is that your company can easily keep your team aligned and accountable with an updated training manual. And the sooner you get it back up to date (we won’t lie – it’ll take a bit of work), the easier it is to keep it there!
3 ways to get (and keep) your training manual updated
Getting your employee training manual up to date might feel like mission impossible – especially if you feel like the task falls all on you.
But here’s how you can make the updates without having to do it by yourself:
1) Schedule recurring time
Assign who owns what. This means, put everyone on your team in charge of a few responsibilities related to their role – including the training content that comes with it.
For example, you might assign your social media person with which social platforms you use and how exactly you use them.
Then, once a quarter or so, task everyone with combing through what they own to make sure nothing has changed.
We like to schedule this as a recurring time slot on everyone’s calendars that automatically repeats every 3 months. That way, your training material stays fresh, and there are no excuses like “we forgot” or “we just haven’t had time.”
2) Make it a team effort
If you have a lot of people or a ton of material, try the spring cleaning approach. We highly recommend this one – and even do this ourselves in addition to scheduling recurring time.
Once a year, schedule a company-wide session to tackle your employee training manual as a team. By getting everyone involved, you ensure that a small group of people is not stuck with such a big responsibility.
Plus, you can even throw away any policy, process, or procedure that your company is no longer using or just doesn’t make sense anymore. (Just be sure to double-check that no one uses it for their role before you get rid of it for good.)
3) Task your newest employee
If you are absolutely unwilling to take on your training manual, charge your newest employee with the task.
Chances are good that they’ll have plenty of questions on what you do and how as they go through training. So, they should be catching anything that is out-dated.
When this happens, have them correct it. This way, your training manual gets up to date. But your new hire also gains a deeper understanding of their role than by just reading the material.
Just be careful that the old ways are actually getting caught and corrected – not just grazed over. The best way to do this is to find a few out-dated processes before your new hire starts. That way, you can spot-check when they’re done.
Step 5: Invest in some really good employee training software
The average training cost per employee is around $1,500 annually and 50 hours per year. But to be completely transparent, this budget is out the wazoo and doesn’t mean that your training is impactful. In fact, it’s one of those rare cases where having a bigger budget actually gets in the way.
There are two reasons for that.
One, when teams are given a set budget to run employee training programs, they tend to feel that they need to spend it all. Or at least, as close to that number as possible without going over. But hyper-focusing on the numbers actually detracts attention away from what’s important – the employee training.
That leads me to number two: With the focus being on the numbers, the training part of employee training is an afterthought. This leads to a lot of companies either presenting the outdated training content or not training in an engaging way.
That means the employees completed the training – but they didn’t learn what they were supposed to learn. So it was a waste of time and money.
But this is why spending that much actually gets in the way.
Only 25% of companies report seeing sustained results from their training. That means for the other 75% the money was not well spent. This is what we would refer to as low impact training, compared to wildly impactful training.
And these companies actually end up spending way more long term. That’s because they need to run employee training more often, have less efficient employees, and find themselves fixing avoidable mistakes. And none of these costs are factored into the average training cost per employee, meaning these companies are now over budget!
Meanwhile, companies that invest in employee training software spend a fraction of the cost and build wildly impactful training programs every time.
That’s because a really good employee training software:
- Organizes all your business knowledge in one, centralized place
- Is able to assign content directly to employees
- Quickly gets employees up to speed and keeps them there
- Tests for both retention and understanding
- Tracks who knows what so you can keep people accountable
- While making wildly impactful employee training cheaper
Just make sure that when you find the right training software, you add all your documented knowledge, policies, and procedures in there!
Step 6: Run the employee training program
You have put in the hard work to plan your employee training – now it’s time to put it to the test.
Depending on the materials you built out, how much your employees need to learn, and what training methods you plan to use, you can run the training in one of two ways. Synchronous or asynchronous.
Synchronous training is when the trainer takes the employee through all of the material. This is like your teacher bringing you through the test material in a classroom.
Whereas asynchronous training is where the employee goes through the material on their own, at their own pace. Like online learning, this is how employee training software gets and keeps employees up to speed.
And while 68% of employees prefer synchronous on-the-job training, asynchronous training typically teaches employees faster and helps them retain more.
But whichever way you choose is up to you. Just make sure you make your point clear, take them all the way through their employee training plan, and make sure they have access to the updated employee training manual.
Step 7: Measure your training’s impact
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of companies don’t do it.
In fact, only about 50% of companies bother tracking what their employees had to say about the training. Even less track the impact their training made.
If you want to see just how impactful your training was, you need to – at the very least – require a self-reflection from every employee that completed it. This should include questions to gauge what they knew before compared to what they know after.
But ideally, you want to measure data that shows the much larger picture.
For example, by tracking who’s gone through what training, you can then test for comprehension, understanding, and retention over a period of time. This will let you know if your employees actually learned the material or not – and can be tested before they start applying it in the field. (Your employee training software should do all this for you!)
But you should also track the impact using hard business metrics that directly reflect the intended purpose, such as revenue per employee. When this isn’t possible, opt for related metrics to provide insight on how impactful the training really was, such as consistency of behavior changes.
Ensure every employee training is wildly impactful
To be completely frank, not every employee training software is created equal. And Trainual is the top-rated employee training software, trusted by 50,000 users in 100+ countries, to make every training wildly impactful.
By organizing business knowledge in one, searchable place, Trainual creates an interactive training manual that your employees can access from anywhere.
And by using a combo pack of training methods, Trainual even makes the training stickier. This means that your employees get up to speed faster and actually stay there.
Simply assign content directly to employees, track that they went through it, and test that they understood it all. That way, there is no question of who knows what.
Plus, if for whatever reason something doesn’t stick, employees can access the information on their own in seconds and refresh.
But here is the best part: the price you see is all you spend.
There are never any hidden costs for extra features to make the software work, retrain employees, or compensate for productivity loss. Making it the only training software that gives you more bang for your buck.