When was the last time you onboarded with a new organization, or participated in a corporate retreat? You likely spent a day, or even a full week, in meetings learning about company policy and mission. How much do you actively recall of that training? Do you only remember certain highlights rather than information from the entire program? If so, this means that the company’s resources for education and training are essentially being wasted. We can prevent this type of waste by making corporate training programs more engaging for employees, in order to increase retention, implementation, and workplace improvements.
Why Corporate Training Needs to Change
There are several reasons why most employee training events are largely ineffective. To start, employee training can often feel unrealistic. Roleplaying exercises and group discussions can be helpful in terms of providing theoretical knowledge for employees, but they do little to fuel practical applications. Corporate training also tends to be routine and predictable. After an employee has been through a few training courses, they start to expect the same thing every time, which decreases how well they pay attention and actively engage in the learning process.
Beyond lackluster commitment from employees, training methods that aren’t working to actively and creatively engage participants will result in lost resources for the organization. According to the 2019 Training Industry Report, corporate spending on training and development totaled $83 billion last year. A training session of about 30 employees will cost $40,000 — but much of this money will be wasted due to poor follow-up. Organizations often assume that a training is one-and-done, without thinking about how managers can continue the training’s conversation with their employees.
Where are the major pitfalls in employee training currently? And how can we work to identify them? Here are some areas to consider as you design your own training courses:
- Have you brought in external employee educators?
- Are your trainers, whether external or internal, qualified instructors?
- Is there a written plan for how your training events should unfold?
- Do the employees have clear objectives to focus on during training events?
- Is your training budget adequate for the size of your organization?
- Are you actively seeking anonymous feedback from your employees about your educational events?
Methods for Making Employee Training More Effective
Leaders now, more than ever, need to be thoughtful about the ways they engaged their employees. Recent Gallup research reports that 34% of employees are engaged in their workplace, which they say is an all-time high (and of course varies per industry). But that means that 66% of employees are not engaged in their workplace, with 13% saying they are “actively disengaged.” Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to improve employee engagement even further.
Here are some methods that can improve employee engagement during training events:
- Make sure team members are ready to engage: Before starting a training event, have your company’s leaders set clear goals and objectives for employees so that they understand what is expected of them, and send them out in advance of the training. Have you confirmed that all employees have the resources and/or accommodations to fully engage in the learning process, have read any materials they needed to read, and done any pre-work?
- Craft meaningful learning tasks: Be sure that any learning tasks mimic real-life problems that employees will encounter. Encourage them to imagine that they are in a commonly experienced scenario on the job, and help them engage in the appropriate problem-solving methods. Or have employees share challenges they’re currently facing, and have other team members help solve those problems.
- Have employees monitor their own engagement: Routinely check in with employees to see how they are feeling. If groups are becoming unenthusiastic about the process, losing focus, or have stalled out, evaluate why by soliciting feedback.
- Be actively involved with preparing instructors: Hold leaders of the training events accountable for the success of the day. This will encourage them to think creatively about how they can get results and improve engagement rates each time they lead a training event.
- Make sure employees feel valued: When employees feel appreciated and encouraged to grow, and it’s communicated to them that they are a valued member of the team, they will work harder and better.
- Incorporate social learning into training events: Collaborative activities such as team-building games, storytelling exercises, or even movement can help improve information retention and provide an opportunity for hands-on learning.
- Use technology: AI provides unique opportunities to expand employee learning events by simulating situations for practice. Games, quizzes, and interactive learning modules online can stimulate the brain in ways that a traditional training simply can’t. Organizations also have the benefit of easily analyzing data on engagement.
The Bottom Line for Engagement in Employee Training, Learning, and Development
Training and development programs for employees can be an incredibly useful tool to motivate your team. The quality and creativity of your training programs can be the difference between producing all-star employees and wasting thousands of dollars on programs that just don’t stick. Your organization should be regularly analyzing data and feedback from training events and working to continually polish such programs so that they can have the best effect possible.
There are several different types of employee training programs that you will want to consider providing regularly to your team:
- New hire training: This is the opportunity to ensure that your employees understand organizational policies and procedures, can practice critical thinking and problem-solving tactics specific to their jobs and your company, and can prepare themselves for what’s ahead by becoming familiar with company expectations.
- On the job training: This is where employees can get real-time and hands-on experience. This can include shadowing higher-ups, and allows employees to develop relationships with other team members.
- Continuing education: These kinds of programs are perfect for employees who have been in their roles for several years and need to be updated on new research and/or policies. This can be formal or informal and helps enhance the already-existing skills of leaders and high-performing professionals.
- Personal development: Think of this as the enlightenment process for professionals. This is useful when professionals want to improve personal skills rather than just technical skills. This involves things such as training to be an effective influencer, a motivational leader, or an advanced problem solver.
When you invest in your employees, it creates a ripple effect that helps give your organization a competitive edge. However, it’s crucial that you analyze whether or not the resources you’re using in employee training are being wasted due to outdated and ineffective training methods. KnowledgeCity has an entire online category of courses on leadership, employee engagement, and employee learning/development. See what we’ve got to offer!