Employee training may have taken a bit of back seat in some firms recently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions around travel, social distancing, concerns over company finances and changing workplace structures, but as a vital resource for improving morale, increasing production and performance, and ensuring consistency (especially around company policies, quality, and customer service) employee training should be top of list for every employer at present.
The following tips will help to improve employee training results, especially linked to experiential learning and the ‘hands-on’ approach that has proved so successful.
1. Choose Quality Training Courses and Providers
There are literally thousands of training companies available around the world, all of whom claim to offer ‘quality’ courses.
Some are vastly expensive, (this doesn’t necessarily mean better) some offer bespoke courses designed for your industry, while others claim to promote validated and accredited courses, so choosing a professional training provider to work with can be time consuming and infuriating, but it is worth the effort once you find the best provider with which to partner.
Look for the following when choosing a quality training provider:
• Accredited courses
• Industry specific training
• Comprehension of your business culture and procedures
• Expert, industry competent trainers
• Varied course delivery
• Customized course content
• Measure progress and record achievement
Once you’ve found a provider that offers all of these attributes it is worth checking which companies they have worked with (or currently partner), ask if they can provide client testimonials, and check how they can specifically help your firm.
2. Make Learning Relevant
Covid-19 has put a hold on most ‘in-person’ classroom or workplace-based learning. Real, physical interaction has become difficult to facilitate and seems likely to stay this way for some time.
This has led to an increase in E-learning and ‘virtual’ courses which some firms feel can lack an element of experiential learning or relevancy.
However, if well-designed and executed, E-learning can prove just as informative, engaging and educational as ‘in-person’ learning, and even has some benefits over conventional learning (see below).
Adding an experiential element to learning is a must if learners are to gain from their training, so ensuring that courses are relevant to learners needs, improve their understanding of current working procedures, or offer peer-interaction and feedback, can reinforce learning, give personal value to training and ensure information is retained.
3. Learning and Retention
We have looked at keeping learning relevant to the workplace but it is also worth looking at how retention rates can be improved through specific learning and personal connections generated within training.
Learning that connects with skills or methods we use daily, has a bearing on regular operational tasks, or that improves ease and ability for connected work responsibilities, will generally be absorbed by the learner with ease.
Once these new skills are used regularly, they start to become part of the natural process and this is when retention occurs.
Similarly, development and evolution of new skills will occur once they are put into use and become part of procedure. We can mould and adapt learned skills through a process of trial and error, improving them to suit our needs and requirements.
Training courses that connect with learners through interactive activities, peer-assessment, and encourage self-reflection or self-discovery, will keep learners engaged and promote retention.
4. Encourage Leadership and Stretching Opportunities
True learning occurs through ‘actual’ experience, so encouraging leadership opportunities or assignments that stretch an employee’s capabilities, will create highly valuable learning developments from their own experience.
Trainees should be given the chance to practice their newly acquired skills as soon as possible, integrating them into their work procedures, so that the relevance of training can be seen and skills can be evolved and established.
5. Coaching and Mentoring
One method that is very effective when encouraging and supporting training is coaching and mentoring.
This has the benefit of using the years of experience of long-standing or highly skilled employees to assist those with fewer skills or less experience.
This also gives trainees the ability to test their newly acquired skills in a safe and supportive setting while also having the chance for in-depth feedback and assessment.
Trainees can integrate their learning with a real experience, drawing conclusions, making decisions, implementing changes and reinforcing their learning.
Where possible, task trainees with tracking their own successes (and failures), so that there is a visible outcome for their efforts.
Remember, we can often learn as much from our mistakes as we do our successes, so be prepared to allow trainees autonomy to make their own decisions. Publicly praise them for their successes and reward them for their effort and hard work.