As an experienced HR professional, you know that employees are more likely to stay at companies that are willing to invest in their professional development. Yet those Lunch and Learn meetings to learn about new Excel hacks often go unattended–or maybe employees are interested, but cannot find the time to attend.
Either way, it’s not an ideal situation. Here’s how to get your employees excited to improve upon their skills and learn new ones.
Start at the Top
Before you can start promoting training courses to employees, you must make sure that senior leadership is on board. Because if they don’t see the value in training, no one else will either.
When presented with more opportunities for career growth and professional development, employees are more likely to stay with a company. They are also more likely to be promoted to leadership roles.
When you look at it this way, leadership should agree that you can’t afford not to promote training courses to employees.
Ask Employees What They Want and Need
The best way to get employees excited about training is to get their input on what they want and need to be trained for. This is especially true if you have a wave of employees who are new to your industry, new to the workforce, or if you have recently implemented a new product or process.
Upper management may assume that their employees are all on the same page when in reality, they are struggling. The struggle could be fixed with training. But you never know until you ask. One way to do this is through a training needs assessment. This is a more formal approach and works best for technical skills and job safety.
Another way to do this is through a simple survey distributed to employees. Include questions such as:
- What skills do you think you need to do your job better?
- How would you rank your current skill set in meeting the standards for your job?
- What is one area in which you would like to improve before your next performance evaluation?
Don’t underestimate the value of these simple questions. They could bring big insights and even greater value to your organization.
Make Time for It
If you have senior leadership on board and you’re providing the training that employees have asked for but you aren’t actually making time for the employees to do the training, you’re missing the point.
This is where you may have to bridge the gap between the buy-in at the top of the organization and the needs of the employees at the bottom. Make sure management understands how valuable it is so that they can make sure their employees have time for it. Why promote training courses that no one is given the time to attend?
If training temporarily takes employees away from their work, remind management of the long-term benefits: better employee engagement and retention, increased productivity and innovation, and better leadership material.
Make time for training now, and reap the rewards later.
Make Training Courses Easy to Access
If you really want employees to take advantage of training courses, consider the role of accessibility.
The learning platform needs to be easy to log into and navigate. When deciding which platform to use, take time to research and use it yourself and evaluate its user-friendliness. Then, once you’ve selected a platform, make sure the instructions are clear and easy to follow.
Training courses should be easy to integrate into employees’ schedules. This might mean utilizing a Lunch and Learn format or offering microsessions–bite-sized learning modules that can easily be scheduled into a workday. The easier a learning program is to integrate, the more likely it will become adopted.
Training courses should also be adaptive. Think of adaptive learning as a tutor with an algorithm, a technology-based educational system that adjusts to the learner’s needs and interests. This style of learning will keep the employee interested, engaged, and more likely to complete more training courses.
Make It Engaging
We’ve all had to sit through less-than-enthralling slide decks and presentations. Even if the information is important, if it’s boring, no one will pay attention, no one will learn anything, no one will enthusiastically sign up for future training.
If you’ve decided to offer an online learning platform, be sure it offers content that is relevant, challenging, and adaptive. Make sure the modules are shorter in length so they can easily fit into your employees’ schedules.
But technology isn’t the only way to make training more engaging. Bring in guest speakers to talk about exciting news in the industry. Plan hands-on demonstrations for new technology. Host competitions if you’re hoping to stoke the fires of creativity and innovation!
Variety is the spice of life and people love novelty, so think outside of the box and promote training your employees will be excited to sign up for.
It is not always a good idea to offer incentives for every good behavior you want to see. But it is a good idea to incentivize training courses that directly benefit the employee and the organization.
Cash incentives like bonuses are an easy solution. But what employees really want is to feel appreciated. This means taking a more personalized approach to your company culture and your employees to see what incentives would work best.
Here are some great non-cash incentives to offer:
- Corner office for the week
- Free lunch for the team
- New office decor
- Tickets to a sporting event or concert
- Flexible work options or a floating holiday
- The ability to choose the next work assignment
One benefit of non-cash incentives is that they will create excitement, whereas employees may not be comfortable discussing cash bonuses or pay incentives. Whichever option you choose, be sure to mention the incentives when you promote training to employees.
Connect Training to Promotion and Advancement
Similar to incentives, a great way to promote training among employees is to connect it to promotion and advancement.
When employees are seeking (and completing) training opportunities, they are more likely to be more productive and better engaged. When they get promoted to management, they will likely do the same for their employees. Your employees are rewarded for their efforts and your organization attracts and retains good talent.
As long as everyone receives equal opportunities for training, connecting it to promotion and advancement is a great way to promote training. This is also a great way to demonstrate a clear path to advancement to new employees.
One way to promote training courses to employees is to celebrate when other employees complete courses. No one likes feeling left out and this could be just the nudge you need to get others on board. Think of it as a type of positive peer pressure. If all your coworkers were being celebrated for doing something, wouldn’t you want to be celebrated, too? One way to do this is to include the course-completion rate in the company-wide email.
Another option is to create a token upon completion. A certificate or card is most common and in some cases most appropriate. But for others, you can take a more creative or personalized approach. This could be as simple as a pen, travel mug, or a credential added to the employee ID badge.
Make Learning a Part of the Company Culture
This can be a hard needle to move, but it is worth moving. A company that doesn’t value employee training may not understand why you want to promote employee training courses. If that is the case, focus on the culture before you focus on the training.
First, show the value. Companies that make an effort to understand what their employees need and create more on-the-job opportunities through training and development experience greater employee engagement, productivity, and retention. In other words: less turnover, better cost-savings. Training equals profit.
Next, build excitement. Promote training courses as opportunities for incentives and advancements. Show employees how training connects to the values of the organization and the work they do. Identify enthusiastic employees who are early adopters on the value of training courses and let them help build the hype.
Finally, create a standing appointment. Put your training on the company calendar. Make sure everyone knows (and is excited about!) the second Thursday Lunch and Learn where the CEO shares industry news and what it means for your organization. Consistency will build trust and create change.
Make it Transferable
This one may seem counterintuitive. Why spend the time and money to help employees develop skills that they can use somewhere else? Employees appreciate it when organizations invest in them. And when an employee appreciates the organization, they usually stay there.
If an employee knows that a course provides information that will be valuable for the duration of his or her career, they are more likely to take it and remain engaged. This can be a huge benefit to recent graduates and new hires as well as people who have had an extended period of time out of the workforce.
Barriers to Promoting Training Courses
Lack of Time
If you want employees to take the time to complete training courses, you must take the time to promote those courses. Make a schedule and be intentional about how much time you invest in promoting training courses to your employees.
Poor Perception of Training
If employees don’t see the relevance or value in the training you’re promoting, they probably won’t commit to completing them. Make sure you are selecting and promoting courses that are highly relevant to the employee and the organization–and that everyone knows it.
If you promoted the employee training course by posting a paper flyer on the dusty corkboard in the employee break room, don’t be surprised if no one attends. Find a better, more engaging way to promote training, such as in-person announcements, posting QR codes, or sending out internal newsletters with updates.
Top Training Courses
Check out some of our most popular Knowledge City courses for employees below:
- Leadership: Learn the resilience, agility, and communication skills required by strong leaders. This course will teach employees how to inspire confidence and influence others.
- Career development: Whether you are searching for a new job or a new hire, it can be challenging to navigate. This career development course will teach you how to set goals, assess your skills, and stay motivated.