Training Your Employees Online: 10 Best Practices for Success
As businesses around the world continue to operate remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re also continuing to discover creative new ways to offer goods and services to their customers. This means that employees have needed to take on new tasks and learn new skills to keep up. Which also means that leaders need to manage teams differently, and figure out new ways to get them to engage with their work and each other.
One initiative that can help unite your employees, keep them engaged, and prepare them for new job tasks is by implementing and utilizing an online training program. At first, you may not think that adding more tasks, especially training courses, during a pandemic would benefit your employees. But there are a number of advantages an online training program provides that can help everyone stay motivated and productive.
One of the biggest benefits of employee training is that it can increase engagement. When employees have access to tools and resources to help further their careers or help them feel more confident in their roles — and especially if they know that their employer is providing those materials — they feel more engaged. And studies show that engaged employees are more productive and less likely to leave.
If you’re considering starting a training program, or have one in place but are unsure how to make it work to its fullest for your company, here are 10 best practices for putting it into place and getting employees excited to use it.
1. Look at long-term value, not short-term compliance.
Too often, companies think about their employee training in terms of checking a box, or making sure everyone is up-to-date on a specific topic or skill to fulfill a yearly requirement. Instead, companies need to understand the value that employee training will bring to every layer of the workplace – from higher-performing teams that are more productive and generate increased revenue, to the saved costs of retaining employees, and building knowledge and skills across the workforce.
2. Commit to training.
In order to make your online employee training program successful, leadership needs to not only understand the long-term value it brings, but to back it up and promote it. If those in charge aren’t excited about training, or fail to lead communication around its implementation, staff won’t see how it can be beneficial to them and the company, and may view it as one more requirement to check off on a list. Additionally, team leaders and managers, who are often the ones to influence their team the most, need to commit to implementation as well.
3. Train for a remote world.
Because many teams are now working remotely, possibly for the foreseeable future, this means that on-site group training has also been eliminated. If your team is remote, choose a remote program that provides the training you need. Having an online hub of courses offers a number of advantages over on-site training as well, including on-demand access, less time commitment and greater variety.
4. Find training that fits your workplace.
If you’ve found that your training programs haven’t been resonating with your team, check to see if it’s the right training for your workplace. Does it address the topics and concerns of your employees? Does it show scenarios and situations that your employees can relate to? Not every training program is alike, so be sure to pick one that has relevant, applicable and enjoyable content.
5. Utilize employee time wisely.
You don’t want to implement training that will require employees to sit for hours at a time to complete, taking them away from other vital work tasks. Find a training program that offers bite-size courses and videos that employees can complete in under 30 minutes. This will make training less daunting, won’t detract from their productivity and will give them a sense of “quick wins” when they finish a few.
6. Create engagement around training.
While each employee might be completing their online training alone, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a solitary activity. Managers can invite employees to share about which courses they recently took at weekly team meetings. Or managers can assign a course that all team members complete, which they can then debrief together. This keeps engagement up, helps ensure completion and reinforces the concepts learned. It also helps the team stay focused on something communal while working remotely.
7. Measure success with tracking.
There’s really no point in implementing a training program without tracking how it improves employees’ engagement and skills. Be sure to put measurements in place to gauge completion (a good employee training program will have tracking and reporting), as well as ways to measure key performance indicators that show the effects training is having on productivity and engagement.
8. Offer professional development courses.
You may solely be focused on offering employee training to improve relevant work skills and knowledge, but offering employees access to a library of courses that will help them in their professional development is an advantage as well. In fact, one of the criteria for job searchers is that a company offers a robust career development program.
9. Stay current and relevant.
There are always new skills, software and compliance laws to learn. Choose an online training program that keeps up-to-date with trends, so that employees can stay ahead of their job duties and provide a competitive edge for the company. Additionally, look for training software that allows you to upload company or industry-specific courses or materials so that your employees have access to specialized skills or compliance training.
10. Don’t be afraid of employee training.
Some companies are afraid to implement employee training, thinking that their employees will use those courses to build their skills, and then quit to seek better opportunities. But that will only happen if you let it. Employee training actually serves to increase retention, and to improve engagement and productivity. Additionally, highly-skilled employees provide an excellent internal pipeline for upward promotion.
Creating a Better Workplace
One of the best and easiest ways to increase employee engagement, productivity and team connection — especially during a pandemic — is to implement an employee training program. While it may take a bit of thought and time to get it up and running, the benefits will impact your company and your employees for the better and for the long haul.