How to Design a Successful Employee Training Program

How to Design a Successful Employee Training Program

Training your team and implementing a well-developed training program can make or break a business’s success.  If you take a look at some of the best companies to work for, you’ll notice that all of them provide opportunities for employees to grow and improve. There is an investment in time and effort; however, an effective training program adds value and consistency to your business. When done correctly, training can help your workers become more effective, efficient – increasing revenue and profit, all while giving your workers a sense of achievement.  Along with many other benefits, training ensures compliance, creates a safe environment and a more satisfied workforce.

The problem most business owners have is not knowing where to start or how to develop a program that suits the business goals—in other words, identifying the purpose of the training. Creating an effective training program isn’t easy, but with some guidance and an easy-to-follow process, you will be well on your way to creating a productive, well-trained workforce, and a training program that suits your business.

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay”.

Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

Below is a step by step guide to help you create an effective training program – that you can adapt to suit your business needs and make engaging for your employees. This guide will help you get started in your quest to create a workforce that is happier and more productive. 

Step One: Decide On Your Training Needs

The first step is to identify what performance issues your business has by analysing the problem.  The purpose of this step is to get a better idea of what is causing the problem and to see if training is the best solution. This step is also called a skills gap analysis.

Your need is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Analyse the performance problem in 3 steps

1. Identify the business goal that training will support:

The first thing you should identify is the reason why training is needed, and the link to your business goals. Your business goals may include increasing revenue, productivity and cost savings; or decreasing waste, creating a new product or adhering to regulations. More specifically, a business goal could be for a worker to create a new product, service or to increase the number of clients per day. When you know what your goals are, you can identify training gaps and develop your program to suit.

2. List the tasks that a worker needs to perform to reach your business goal(s):

Once you have identified the business goal(s), you can list the tasks or activities that the worker needs to do to reach the goal(s).

What are the day-to-day physical activities or tasks they must perform?

Here you can identify what your workers can do (what their current skill set is) and what needs to be done for them to perform the tasks effectively.

3. Determine the training activities that the worker can learn from:

Now that you have an understanding of what tasks need doing, the next step is to identify training activities that will help the worker learn how to do those tasks better. The training activities may include a brief overview or detailed instructions of the production process; or sales training.

Do you need to include demonstrations, online learning, hands-on training, or a mixture of different methods?

Think about the most effective and efficient form of training! More on this in step 4.

Step Two: Apply Adult Learning Principles

Adult learning principles are things that all adults have in common. Your workers will have certain characteristics in common, and it is essential to recognise these things and design your training around these principles. 

Traits of adult learners:

  • Are self-directed
  • Bring a lifetime of knowledge and experience to training
  • Are goal-oriented
  • Want training to be relevant and task-oriented
  • Learn when they are motivated to learn
  • Like to be and feel respected

If your training recognises these principles, then it is more likely to be effective.

“Throw out that instructional design manual, and speak like a human being.”

Cammy Bean

Step Three: Identity Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are things that a worker must be able to do after the training is complete. Clear outcomes are an essential part of training development because, without them, there is no direction. You might say, developing learning outcomes is the most important step!

Once you have identified the learning outcomes, you can create training content that focuses on these objectives. Any tests, quizzes, or hands-on exercises performed during training should evaluate only on the workers understanding and comprehension of the outcomes. When the worker is on the job, any further observations should be on the performance of these outcomes. Below you will find two different methods for designing learning outcomes. Think of these as a guide to help get you started.

Use four parts called ABCD:

A learning outcome can have four parts which can be represented with ABCD.

  • A = Actor which represents the worker who will perform the task.
  • B = Behaviour that must be stated with a verb that defines the workers’ behaviour. For example, if the training is designed to teach a Receptionist to book an appointment using the point of sale system, the behaviour in your learning outcome would be to “Book an Appointment”. Ideally, the outcome should mirror the real-life tasks that the worker will be performing.
  • C = The condition under which the worker will perform the behaviour. In keeping with the Receptionist example, the learning objective might be “create a customer appointment for a future date using the point of sale system”. The conditions are the steps to be taken to perform the behaviour. Steps might be, enter the customer details on the appointment booking page, confirm the booking date and time, send a confirmation email to the customer.
  • D = The degree at which the worker will perform the learning outcome, or how well. For example “100% accuracy”, or “within 10 minutes”, or “5 times in 1 hour” etc.

Note:  If there are multiple learning outcomes in your training, you can begin a list starting with “the learner must:”. There may be times when the condition or degree may not be appropriate, but this method will help you design a list of learning outcomes that the worker must perform.

Use SMART:

If you wish to go into more detail, you can write your learning outcomes with five characteristics. This method is commonly known by the acronym SMART.

The outcome should be:

  • Specific and is clearly stated and apparent to everyone.
  • Measurable, so that you can be satisfied that the learner has achieved the goal.
  • Achievable, to ensure the learner has a chance to reach the learning goal.
  • Relevant to the workers’ job.
  • Time-bound, meaning the workers’ tasks have a precise time frame.

Step Four: Design Your Training Style

Designing your training style or method doesn’t have to be hard; you just need to remember the principles from the previous steps and take your time. Below you will find some tips to help you design your training to suit your business.

  • Focus on the learning needs of your workers and not what is easy for you, or your trainers.
  • Create training content, materials and assessments that relate directly to your learning outcomes.
  • Keep in mind the adult learning principles.
  • Include hands-on practice or simulation as much as possible – people learn by doing.
  • Allow the workers to interact with the trainer and each other.
  • Ensure there is plenty of opportunity for feedback during the training.
  • Break the training up into small ‘chunks’ to make it easier to take it in and understand.
  • Deliver the training material in a logical order – take it in steps or chronologically.
  • Try to include different methods of learning. For example, you can use hands-on practical learning, online computer-based, instructor-led, and discussions.
  • Use storytelling and real-life scenarios.

An effective training program includes a variety of activities to help maintain the learner’s attention and appeal to different learning styles.

Types of Employee Training

Different types of training address different outcomes, circumstances and budget. Chose the most suitable options:

  • In-house program or outsourced programs
  • Classroom or workshop style
  • Individual or group training
  • Job shadowing or on the job training
  • Online courses and assessment
  • Demonstrations and role playing

Once you’ve got your training materials designed, you can start creating!

Step Five: Create Your Training Content

You can create a variety of training materials using different methods and tools, depending on the size and scale of your business. Below are a few options for you to consider:

  • Use Word, Excel, Powerpoint or similar programs to create printed hand-outs and notes, as well as module outlines for instructor-led training.
  • Develop a Powerpoint presentation for in-class visual training and printed hand-outs of the slides.
  • Have flip-charts, posters or whiteboards to use as visual aids.
  • Utilise E-learning tools such as Trainual, EdApp and Adobe Captivate for creating computer-based e-learning modules, and track learning activities.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Mix it up a bit and use the methods to fit the workers’ training needs. Take advantage of E-learning tools as this can save you time, and give you the ability to track workers training activities. While creating materials, always keep two things in mind. (1) the things that will help your employees learn most effectively and (2) the learning outcomes.

Create a Content Structure

An effective training program presents organised content for each training module or topic. 

The content structure should include:

  • A general overview of the subject matter
  • A purpose statement for why the training matters
  • A summary of the learning outcome
  • Detailed instructions of what is required such as resources and time

Step Six: Implement Training

This step is all about organisation and implementation. Being organised builds confidence in your workforce.  By following these simple guidelines, you will be well on your way to implementing an effective training program.

Get organised:

Before you deliver the training, ensure you:

  • Order necessary supplies you may need for the training (e.g. training manuals, office supplies, morning tea/lunch, IT equipment.
  • Book meeting rooms or a quiet workspace in advance and ensure the environment is suitable.
  • Give plenty of notice to the worker(s) regarding time, date and location.
  • Inform the person conducting the training of any details they need to know.
  • Communicate with the worker of what to expect (include details in your welcome email if this is part of your onboarding process).
  • Work with IT (if required) to set up any E-learning modules.

One of the best ways to make training efficient is to incorporate a learning management system (LMS), into your training plan to blend online and face to face learning. Most LMS systems can deliver, track and report on training activity. It is easy for your workers to log in, see a list of training modules, run through a training quiz and track their progress. Some systems will even send out notifications by email when new assessments are available or overdue. An online training system can automate a lot of the administrative duties that can otherwise be time-consuming.

Implement:

Implementing training can take a variety of forms, as described in step four and five. The one thing to keep in mind is to ensure you know what the worker needs to do and how they need to do it. Make sure you practise, especially if the training involves on-the-job skills-based training and demonstrations.

Step Seven: Evaluate Your Training Program

Your goal should be to deliver practical training that enhances or changes your workers’ on-the-job behaviour and performance. By evaluating their results, you can confirm if the training was effective or not. 

There are four ways to evaluate the results of the training, and these are:

  • Employees’ reaction to the training – you can gather this information by using a simple online questionnaire such as Typeform or Google Forms, or a simple email requesting they answer a few questions. You could ask questions such as;
    • What did you like best about the training?
    • What new skill did you learn from the program?
    • How will you apply the new skill on the job?
    • Do you feel competent in your job after doing the training?
    • Is there anything you would have liked to have learned during this training that wasn’t included?

Use your questioning to find out what worked, didn’t work, and if there is anything you can improve on.

  • Employees’ learning – assessments during the training should evaluate the learning of the outcomes. The assessments might be hands-on-skills-based, quality of their work, percentage score in their online E-learning, how long they took to complete a task and noticeable skills (or lack thereof).
  • Post-training behaviour – The most straightforward way to evaluate this is to monitor and observe their day-to-day work. Ask yourself, are they taking their skills, knowledge and attitudes from the training and applying it to their work? Are there areas of their work that are lacking?
  • Business results – Did the training reach the desired result? Think back to your business goals and determine if the training has helped the workers meet the business needs and goals.

“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”

Brain Tracy

Step Eight – Repeat The Process

We live in an ever-changing world, and nothing stays the same for too long. Your business will grow and develop, which means you may need to revisit some of these steps in the future. Typically, one-off training doesn’t work, and this is all down to how humans learn. If you want to have a productive team, and a business that succeeds, you need a workforce that is continually learning and growing.  Now that you have a guide for training, it should be easy to set up a training process at any time.

Conclusion

The goal of a training program is to help your people perform the necessary tasks in their everyday job to a consistently high standard. For best results, include your team in the planning and development of your training program.

Frequently check in with all your employees and find out how they are going, and if they need help, feedback is critical to creating a healthy learning environment. Analyse any problems that may arise, determine training needs, identify learning outcomes and consider your business goals.  Adopting a culture of learning and improvement only enhances your business and builds a competent workforce.

Need help with implementing a training program or building a culture of continuous learning and improvement? Work with us to help you implement systems and processes in less time and with less effort than trying to figure it out by yourself. Book a Systems Success Call now to take the first step to a better business.