Whether you are in retail or SaaS, employee training is a must for every business.
But it seems effective employee training isn’t.
According to guide2research’s report, 49% of talent developers say that the biggest challenge in employee training is getting managers to make employee training a priority. Dear talent developers, we can tell.
Although people don’t acknowledge the importance of employee training, we do. And today, we will be looking at what new employee training really is, why it is important for your business, current trends, and lastly, best practices – as well as some bad practices.
What is New Employee Training?
New employee training is training your new hires for their given position, according to the company culture, for the company’s sake and their own. It’s basically giving the new employees the weapons they need on the battlefield we call the market; for this front and other fronts they might go to after they are done with this one.
A concept very similar to new employee training is learning and development.
But be wary, it’s slightly different.
While new employee training means teaching employees skills that are applicable right away, learning and development are related to a more process-based approach. So, in most cases, you might be done with employee training, but learning and development continue throughout their time in the company.
Why is Employee Training Important?
Let me continue with my metaphor: would you want to throw your soldier into the battleground with no weapons? I didn’t think so.
It’s almost impossible to not see why employee training matters, but just in case let’s look at the numbers:
- Poorly trained and disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year. (Forbes)
- 68% of employees say that training and development is the most important policy in the company. (ClearCompany)
- 94% of employees agree that they would stay longer at a company if they offered more opportunities for their personal development. (LinkedIn)
It is not hard to see that employees understand how important employee training really is. Thus, they want companies to give it the priority and credit it deserves. Moreover, one more thing is pretty clear: if there is no good training, either the employees leave or it costs some big sums of dollars. You’ve been warned.
Popular Employee Training Methods
In 2022, a lot changed for employee training thanks to you know what (the pandemic, duh). We are looking at a more digital, more course-based, and arguably more effective framework for learning and development. Let’s look at some popular methods for employee training on the rise.
With most of us cooped up in our homes or separate offices, e-learning seems to be one of the hottest employee training methods. When I say e-learning I mean all sorts of videos, training courses, quizzes, and practices, preferably hand-tailored by an instructor, mentor, talent developer, or manager.
Why does it work?
With millennials (and even some Gen Z folks now) joining the workforce every passing day, we know that the number of employees comfortable with technology and digital material is increasing. E-Learning makes use of precisely that. By offering the chance to learn even on mobile phones, employee training is somewhat made easier.
Group learning was an effective training method and will stay an effective one, thanks to meeting tools like Zoom and team tools like Slack. Obviously, everyone expected group learning to fall apart during the pandemic, but in my opinion, there are a lot of benefits to doing it online. Better time management, more critical thinking, the comfort of breakout rooms; I could go on all day.
Why does it work?
Group learning has so many advantages. You get to save time and money, you have almost a classroom environment, you have people motivate each other, and you get the training done in one go. What’s more, is that your employees can get used to working together, to asking for feedback and opinions early on, and to see different people’s standpoints which will have them acquire newfound insights.
Hands-on training is, in the most basic sense, learning while doing the job itself. It is a rather traditional way but it is still very common. Hands-on training has been the real deal since god knows when but people were curious if it would still work out fine during the pandemic. And to that, I answer: yes, it does. We do SaaS, people. We’ve been doing online hands-on training from the very beginning. Chin up.
Why does it work?
You can teach someone theory for years and they will still struggle the first time they do it. It’s just how it is. This is why we need to add practice to theory and that’s exactly why it is effective. Your employees will get a good sense of what the job actually is, learn by making mistakes, and start accumulating experience from the very start.
Interactive learning, in most cases, required online learning already. Be it simulation learning, role-playing, or playing training games, interactive learning was easy to migrate to the online realm. It was already pretty effective in pre-pandemic circumstances, and I think it proved to be effective during the pandemic too.
Why does it work?
If you are in the SaaS industry, whatever department you are in, you have to understand human behavior and interaction. That’s exactly why employees need interactive work and that it still delivers. Employees get to see the human side of the job and think more critically for solutions when the human factor is included in the training.
Group reading and case studies
Just like most of the other methods, group work is bound to have better results in reading too. Better if you turn it into a whole book club experience where you can discuss not only your opinions but also how you can adapt and implement what you read for your own company. Another advantage is that your employees get to learn more about the industry and the market you are in by focusing on those case studies specifically.
Why does it work?
Getting people to read is not the easiest thing to do, but when they get down to it, there comes actionable opinions and important questions that new hires might not have realized with just hands-on training. Also, reading as a group means that your employees will try and understand one another’s opinions which contributes to critical thinking specific to your field as well as a broader sense of what is going on in the market.
5 Best Practices of Employee Training
1. Talk to Senior Employees
Before attempting to lay out a program for learning and development, talk to your senior employees and ask them about their own training experience. Most of the time, we tend to forget that our experienced colleagues were once new hires, but they almost always remember their first few months and hopefully the training they received as well. Whether they have been hired last year or last month, their opinions could make a change for your training program.
Furthermore, interviewing existing employees can be a great opportunity to see how their learning and development is going and give you further insight especially if you were the one training them. Remember, L&D is an ongoing process.
2. Plan Beforehand with the Employees in Mind
When it comes to employee training, and especially when you are working with a big group, you can’t leave planning the training program to chance. Deciding what methods to use, which tools to utilize, what concepts to prioritize all have an impact on your employees’ time and performance in the company. That is why you should:
- Know your employees and plan each training session according to their positional needs
- Make it easy for the employees to understand, not for you to teach
- Set realistic goals that won’t overwhelm the employees and will give them the time to actually learn.
3. Familiarize with Company Culture
In (very) traditional employee training, how the company works and where you are allowed to park was right about everything you could learn as a new employee. But thankfully, times have changed and now we want to make sure our employees are qualified enough to work for the company and satisfied enough to keep working for the company. That is why company culture is so important in employee training.
By showing the employees what makes the company unique, you want to achieve a certain reaction where your employees go “I think I can work here for a long time”. So, if you can sprinkle a bit of company culture into your training program, you will have no fear that your trained employees will leave your company for another.
4. Give & Ask For Feedback, Always
Sometimes trainers/talent developers/ managers make the grave mistake of ignoring feedback, which will affect how employees see the company culture, create a pile of unanswered questions, and another pile of questions that couldn’t even come into existence, just because you forgot to give feedback. But actually, once this problem is detected, it is easy to solve.
What is really challenging for some training programs is asking for feedback. Most of the time, the new employees might be hesitant to call out problems they see if they are given the impression that there is no tolerance for constructive feedback. This is why asking for feedback and creating an opportunity for new employees to voice their opinions is crucial. You might even find ideas that can change the whole company for the better.
5. Keep It Going
Everything went perfectly well with your training program and you are convinced that your new employees are now in the company culture, empowered to talk about their ideas and opinions, and overall, they are well trained in the more knowledge-based areas. Are you done? No way.
89% of HR leaders agree that to achieve the desired outcomes, check-ins and feedback from peers are essential. Learning and development is a never-ending process, and although it won’t be as intensified, your employees still need to keep learning and developing. To make sure this process runs smoothly, you might have them share and read case studies among themselves, train again when tools are updated and test them from time to time to see how effective the training program has been. Just keep in mind that learning never ends and keep going.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid
1. Don’t Make It a Competition
The last thing you want for your new employees to start getting competitive. It could have worked for you in the early 2000s, but it will only have harsh consequences today. This is because according to Gallup’s research, the reason why Millennials job-hop so much is that more than half of them are already disengaged with their jobs and company. So, your new hires, very likely Millennials or Gen Z, will leave if they are uncomfortable in the workplace. And not turning it into competition from the very beginning could help you a lot.
What’s more, is that it doesn’t even have to be about the new generations joining the workforce. Too much competition and playing favorites in the workplace may result in low self-esteem, decreased productivity, and gone too far, even sabotage. So, no, it’s probably not worth it.
2. Don’t Tell, Show
A very common mistake with traditional employee training was focusing too much on the “what?” and not addressing the “how?”, thankfully most businesses left this practice behind and are more aware of what’s at stake here. And that is, well, the whole meaning of training your employees. Because raw information won’t do them any good.
The “don’t tell, show” approach goes all the way from tool level learning to corporate knowledge, and well, also where the coffee machine is. Thankfully, someone will somehow show them where the coffee machine is, the more painful process is often the more technical problems, like onboarding the employees to web products.
That’s where tools like UserGuiding come into the picture. Especially if you are low on time and budget to have a person walk the employees through web products. Let’s briefly about our success story with RAM, a hand-to-hand courier company. RAM was in the middle of a change in IT systems when they started looking to get their employees trained for their new software interface; they couldn’t have in-person training since they had several brands around the country. Then, they found UserGuiding, and it was a big success. They trained the existing employees and new hires, and they did so by showing them, not handing everyone an instruction guide. Nothing fits the “don’t tell, show” approach better than a hands-on guide into the product.
3. Don’t Use Outdated Data, Tools, Anything
Using outdated sources is not a very big problem per se, but it can turn into a big enough problem if it is done too much and when it is least needed. From showing old statistics to training with old tools, or even talking about the old mindset and vision of the company may have a bad influence on the new employees, alongside visible confusion and judgemental looks.
What’s more, is that using old resources won’t just make your employees question your methods and the company but also you will be training unqualified people. What good would it do to get them to read an irrelevant 2010 case study in 2022? Or practicing face-to-face customer service when your company switched to emailing? Be up to date.
4. Don’t Rush It
According to LinkedIn’s report, 58% of the employees prefer to go at their own pace when learning for a job. Of course, no company has the time to match schedules with every single new employee. But it is undeniable that spreading the training on a bigger timeframe will benefit you more.
Not only does every individual have their own pace at learning, but there is also the stress factor as well. Your new employees are already pretty stressed, to begin with. A new job, a different environment to adapt to, and certain skills to be learned await them; and the last thing they need is to be put on a tight schedule with their learning tasks. So, you don’t want to rush them into not getting anything valuable from the training program by putting deadlines on everything. They will get plenty of deadlines soon enough, have some mercy.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that you should let loose and leave the new employees be. What I’m saying is, if you have a month to train them, prioritize certain skills and tasks; if you have too much material on hand, cut down a little and let them breathe; don’t set official deadlines, and don’t taunt the employees when you find out they couldn’t finish doing a certain something. If half of the class can’t get something done on time, it might just be the teacher’s fault.
5. Don’t Forget to Measure Results
It’s true that learning and development never ends, but new employee training kinda does. And when it is over, you want to see results. This is because you need to see
- if your training program worked or not,
- how intensive the ongoing learning process must be for each individual, and
- whether these people are qualified enough for the job now.
But how do you measure employee training results? There are inbound and outbound ways. Especially when you have trained a rather small number of people, the most effective way to measure would be one on one meetings. By having a small interview about their training experience, you might accumulate precious data for the case at hand and for upcoming employee training programs. If you are more of a precise data person, you might consider post-training tests or official certification exams, but keep in mind one thing: no one likes a test. If you opt for this one, I suggest doing it after a quarter or two. Another measurement is, of course, checking their performance. I might be biased here but no other method of measurement will be more precise and specific than this one.
One more thing to not overlook is what to do if the results come out worse than expected. On an individual level, the reasons for underperformance should immediately be looked into; usually, this means having a private meeting with the employee in question. Remembering that we are social beings and the reason for underperforming might not be a lack of knowledge; then the manager’s involvement in the solution process matters greatly. However, if the problem is not personal but training-related, that’s when you take matters into your hand, look for ways to correct mistakes, and redesign a training program that will work this time. You got this.
New employee training, at its core, is all about human interaction and behavior. New people in a new environment might get uncomfortable and disengaged easily, that’s why you need to be careful in each step since new generations are joining the workforce now.
In creating an effective employee training program, avoiding common mistakes is not enough, you should always thrive to include best practices into your program. Hopefully, this article helps you do that and you will have your new employees happily settled in their new positions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the types of employee training?
there are several types and methods of employee training; traditional ones and modern ones. Although classroom training and hands-on training are rather older methods, they are still used today in modified forms. More modern approahes to employee training include e-learning, simulation training, and mentoring/coaching.
How can I track employee training?
Employee training programs are usually prepared before the training starts and have an estimated timeframe. To track this employee training program, managers are advised to prepare checklists that will help them see not only how the training is going but also how long it takes for certain tasks to be finished and what parts require the most care.
What are the benefits of employee training?
Employee training is a must have process to make sure each and every employee is qualified and skilled enough for the job, adapt them into the company culture, see their potentials and understand their mindsets which will be advantageous for task assignment later on. There are many other adventages to employee training that might be industry-specific, but nevertheless it is beneficial to offer good employee training.