Hiring the right employees is important, but keeping them around and happy is just as essential. One way to do that is to provide opportunities for professional development and training as a way to encourage workers to improve their skills and engage further with their jobs.
While you likely have a solid training program for new employees to get them accustomed to your organization, the training options for ongoing employees are often more limited.
It’s always a good idea to encourage all employees to continue learning new skills, perfecting old ones and developing as professionals. Having well-rounded workers with a range of skills boosts your business and opens up opportunities for their advancement.
Beyond making workers happier and more productive, there are revenue benefits associated with comprehensive training, too.
Companies that offer workers training programs have 24% higher profit margins than those that don’t, according to the American Society for Training and Development.
And if you don’t yet have a learning management system (LMS) solution, consider investing in one. It can help streamline the training process and strengthen your entire program while offering a range of other benefits.
Whether you already have a training program you’re looking to improve, or you’re aiming to implement one, there are certain elements every successful training and development program has.
Short, specific sessions
You know better than anyone that employees’ attention spans aren’t long. No one wants to sit through hours of training, no matter how valuable the information is.
Focus instead on short, specific bursts of information that will interest workers and guarantee they retain the information.
This strategy, called microlearning, emphasizes brief (usually three to five minutes) sessions designed to meet specific outcomes. You can use it for both formal training and informal, but it’s generally more successful when applied to informal skills training instead of intense or complex processed-based training.
There are four essential characteristics of microlearning to hone in on. Make sure your training is:
- Lean: It shouldn’t need a mob of people to implement
- Adaptable: There should be ways to apply the training to many employees across a range of departments and locations. Although specificity is a key component of microlearning, it can’t be so specific that only one employee will benefit, otherwise it’s not worth the time and resources.
- Simple: Avoid over-complicating things and confusing workers.
- Seamless: Use the technology at your disposal. Your solution shouldn’t require in-person sit-downs, but instead should be transferable to employees’ mobile devices and laptops when possible.
Many LMS solutions are accessible on mobile devices and desktops and allow you to create your own courses to provide the exact content you want to employees.
Remember: Microlearning doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your training program. After all, there are some topics that simply can’t be condensed into bite-sized pieces. But integrating this method can help spice up your program and supply a new way of doing things.
An effective training program is only as good as what employees retain, so you’ll want a way to measure where they started and how the training has impacted them.
A pre-training assessment can also shine light on what workers are looking for and what they still need to learn. This allows you to target specific skills training and development to the employees who need it, while not wasting the time of workers who’re all caught up.
Post-training assessments, meanwhile, help you see who’s mastered the training and who still needs help. They can also show you where your training program could be improved.
To ensure assessments are as helpful as possible:
- Avoid yes or no questions, instead allowing workers to provide a variety of feedback.
- Look over how the training objectives line up with workers’ perceptions of their professional development.
- Offer both task- and skill-based evaluations that look at performance and adaptation of the skill, rather than memorization ability.
Note: These evaluations don’t need to take the form of traditional tests. Very few people enjoy taking tests, so taking the time to turn assessments into a game or more fun activity encourages workers to participate and provide their honest opinions without worrying about being “graded.”
With some LMS solutions, assessments can be taken online with the information stored right where you can access it easily. Often, you can also compile the results into reports that give you at-a-glance clarity on who benefited most from the training and who still needs improvement.
Providing chances for your workers to interact and form connections has multiple benefits for your training program and organization at large.
When employees have bonds with their co-workers, they’re more engaged in their tasks and more productive.
Getting them to collaborate during training can help convince them to take the course seriously while encouraging teamwork beyond the training.
Collaboration tools, such as built-in messaging systems and discussion boards, are prevalent among LMS solutions and give workers the chance to learn together and develop along the same paths.
You’ll also want to expand your horizons beyond basic text-based training. We’re living in an age with constantly evolving technology, and your training program should take advantage of the options at your disposal.
Workers will be more engaged with the content you offer if it’s more than words on a page. And with LMS solutions, creating and importing multimedia content into your training is easier than ever.
This doesn’t mean you can’t implement text into your training, of course, but rather that you should also have:
- interactive content
- images, and
Video and images are already extremely popular in training, and if you have a current program it’s likely there are already videos and photos in it. Don’t forget about graphs and other diagrams that could help clarify certain concepts.
Interactive content can take a range of forms, from quizzes given to workers after each module to games employees play to help them retain the information they’ve learned.
These games can also increase collaboration during training, which helps participants stay engaged in what they’re learning and form connections with co-workers. Bonding with co-workers is one of the benefits offered by in-house training programs and these bonds often strengthen employee engagement with your company.
Another option is audio content, like podcasts. Offering audio content allows workers to train while performing other tasks, since they don’t have to be in a specific room or looking at something to follow along.
If you’re worried about carving enough time out in employees’ workdays to add training or professional development, podcasts and other audio content are a good bridge to get them learning new skills while still able to complete their jobs.
A training program won’t work if its inaccessible. If workers have to show up on a specific day and time to a certain conference room, it’s significantly less likely they’ll take you up on the offer.
And if the training is mandatory, employees won’t be excited to learn and may resist absorbing the info.
This is where an LMS solution comes in handy the most. It provides a central location for training and courses to be stored and accessed. Workers can check out training from all of their devices and tackle the topics individually or in groups, depending on what works best for them.
Having an LMS solution also helps if you employ remote workers or have multiple locations, since you don’t have to coordinate a time for them to come in or run multiple training sessions at once.
Workers, especially younger ones, want a way forward in their careers. They don’t want to just learn skills applicable to their current jobs. They want options and the chance to develop further and pick up skills that will serve them well as they advance.
Clearly define how your training program will factor in professional development, so employees can see what the payoff will be down the line. This also motivates them to stay with your company in the long run, since you’re enabling them to develop and practice new abilities and investing in their futures.
Most LMS solutions have the ability to create customized learning paths depending on where employees are in their careers and what they’re aiming to learn and accomplish.
Laying out the ways forward can also help with recruiting and hiring, since prospective employees can see the opportunities for advancement and growth available to them.
Training matters for every employee, not just new hires or recent transfers. A strong comprehensive training program is essential to building up your workforce and keeping workers engaged in their jobs.
When given the chance to boost their skills and develop professionally, employees are also happier and more productive, making the potential expense of implementing training programs worth it.
Plus, LMS solutions can help improve your training and offer a variety of features to employees and trainers alike in a cost-effective way.
Your training doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be helpful for your workers and provide benefits for your business. It just has to work for your company and employees.