September 14, 2023

How to Create a Training Program for Effective Employees

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Key takeaways

  • Employee training programs can cover cultural, role-based, and company-wide learning initiatives, depending on your organization’s requirements.
  • Using gamification software is a simple but effective way to engage employees in training programs.
  • Training programs should be structured but flexible enough to meet evolving organizational requirements and global workforce trends as they emerge.

7 steps to create an effective employee training program

  1. Identify employee training goals.
  2. Create a comprehensive training plan.
  3. Invest in effective learning resources.
  4. Design and share training paths with clear objectives.
  5. Assess employee engagement and performance.
  6. Seek out employee feedback.
  7. Adjust training to meet emerging needs.

1. Identify employee training goals

Before you can establish an effective employee training program, you must first identify the areas in which employees most need additional training. From an organizational or departmental perspective, conducting needs assessments and skills gap analyses can help leaders identify important knowledge gaps in the organization and what training programs might address those gaps. 

Individual employees should also be asked to share their personal training and career growth goals. Getting this input at an individual and departmental level will help leaders get a pulse on what matters most to their employees and may help them develop more tailored training plans that will hold employee interest.

2. Create a comprehensive training plan

Now that you’ve set training goals with both leadership and employee input, it’s time to document those goals with a training plan. The training plan is a document that should, at a minimum, help your team prepare your training program in the following ways:

  • Set measurable objectives and KPIs that align with greater company goals.
  • Determine learning tools and/or third-party resources that are needed to support employee training.
  • Delineate a reasonable training budget.
  • Identify who needs and is eligible for various training paths.
  • Define timelines for training completion.
  • Consider how training should be delivered to meet the needs of different individuals, departments, and initiatives.

Depending on how many different types of training courses and programs you intend to run, it may be helpful to create multiple training plans or a training plan database.

3. Invest in effective learning resources

While your team can certainly create its own learning resources, especially for training programs that are specific to your business, it’s often possible to reduce your workload with the help of third-party learning resources and programs. Investing in learning management system (LMS) software, third-party experts and instructors, online training resources, certification programs, slide decks, informational books, and other digital and physical resources is a great way to build up your employee training program with minimal effort.

LMS software in particular can support organizations, whether they want to customize their training modules or use prebuilt training options. TalentLMS, for example, offers its own training courses and templates, but it also has a course editor that allows users to create content within the platform or upload pre-existing training resources so they can more easily track employee engagement.

TalentLMS displays a course creation dashboard for a data breaches training lesson.
This visual shows how users can create their training courses in TalentLMS with presentations, documents, and other customizable features. Source: TalentLMS

4. Design and share training paths with clear objectives

Having a comprehensive training plan and useful learning resources may not be enough to engage your employees if they don’t clearly understand how this training will help their careers. To illustrate the importance of your training program and how it contributes to career growth opportunities, create training paths and visual roadmaps that align with different roles, departments, learning styles, and career trajectories. 

Include clear objectives — preferably with SMART goals — and clearly state what skills employees should be able to demonstrate at each point in their training. Most importantly, make sure training paths are shared with all employees so they know what they need to do to achieve new career milestones.

5. Assess employee engagement and performance

Regardless of whether your training program is mandatory or optional, you’ll want to track employee engagement and performance so you can effectively improve and tailor the program over time.

For mandatory training programs, check for completion as well as accuracy on any quizzes or tests. For non-mandatory training programs, it will be most valuable to keep track of the number of employees participating — both those who start the program and those who complete the program.

In addition, consider incorporating live simulations and scenario-based exams to test how employees are able to apply their new knowledge to real workplace situations.

For most training programs, LMS software is the best way to stay on top of performance monitoring. These tools provide features like administrative dashboards and reports, real-time notifications, and automated course assignments, which help leaders more clearly identify training opportunities and employees who may need additional support.

6. Seek out employee feedback

During and after any kind of training course, employees should be encouraged to share their feedback on the program. You can collect this feedback through formal employee surveys, or it can be more informally gathered through 1:1 meetings with employees’ managers and mentors. 

For more qualitative feedback, ask employees how they feel about their current training and if they have other training paths they’d be interested in completing. For a slightly more quantitative and contextualized approach, use the data you gathered in step five to frame the questions you ask employees.

If your data indicates that an individual started but never completed a leadership training seminar, for example, you can ask them if specific material in that course was irrelevant, dense, or otherwise unhelpful to their career goals.

7. Adjust training to meet emerging needs

Creating an employee training program is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. Your training program should evolve to meet the needs of your organization and individual employees — as well as global workforce demands — as they change over time.

Although there are many reasons why your organization may want or need to update its training programs, these examples illustrate some of the most common shifts that require training program adjustments:

  • Responsive shift: Your content production team enjoyed the writing courses and seminars that were previously assigned to them and are now interested in receiving training on editing and SEO best practices.
  • KPI-driven shift: Several employees started a regulatory compliance training module but never completed it, causing your organization to miss quarterly course completion goals. The program administrator has decided to assign a different but similar program that supports self-paced learning and more granular performance tracking.
  • Cultural shift: Your organization has grown from a regional to a global business and needs to complete cultural sensitivity and other DEI training to create a more welcoming and inclusive work environment.
  • Tooling shift: Your organization has decided to implement CRM software and needs to train marketing and sales professionals on how to use the software effectively.
  • Role shift: A member of your IT team is shifting from an individual contributor to a team manager role and is interested in receiving leadership training.
  • Global workforce shift: Artificial intelligence (AI) is seeping into business operations worldwide; it is important to your organization’s leadership that all employees develop basic AI usage skills and AI ethics knowledge.

Additional employee training program best practices

The steps listed above will get your training program up and running, but they may not be enough to help you hold employees’ interests and manage training at scale. For the best possible results when implementing an employee training program, be sure to incorporate the following best practices:

Learning management system software provides the building blocks most organizations need to get started with a training program. LMS features include prebuilt courses and training templates, automated workflows, performance monitoring dashboards, and other features that can increase the efficiency of training program development and management.

Game-based learning can be achieved with gamification software or with special features and customizable workflows in an LMS platform. Gamifying the learning experience with badges, contests, and other rewards may be what your employees need to get excited about training program content.

360Learning's mobile app displays a user profile with achievement badges.
360Learning is an LMS that gamifies the learning experience with badges. Source: 360Learning

To encourage as many different types of learners as possible, make sure your training program offers a variety of training formats and topics. Having a mix of self-paced and more structured learning courses, role-based and skill-based training, text-based and multimedia training, and online and in-person training opportunities will help you reach employees across departments, geographies, and interests.

While broader organizational and cultural training may be necessary, it’s a good idea to also create individual training paths and opportunities that align with your employees’ goals and interests. They’re more likely to complete training programs and develop skills that are useful to their particular role if you offer specialized training options.

Getting buy-in and support from different business leaders will help you communicate the value of the training program to all employees. From the top down, be sure to explain why employee training is important and work hard to create a culture where learning and curiosity are valued and rewarded.

Training program FAQs

An employee training program is a dedicated plan of action with coursework, workshops, and other learning resources that are designed with employee and organizational learning goals in mind. Employee training programs can address a variety of learning goals ranging from role-based training to on-the-job training and simulations.

Developing a training program helps organizational leadership monitor and measure employee progress toward learning goals, and gives employees measurable and attainable ways to grow within the company. A well-thought-out training program is also a great employee retention tool, as it gives employees access to interesting materials that show the organization is invested in their professional development.

Depending on your organization’s structure, a team member or a committee from the human resources or learning and development department(s) may be tasked with managing an employee training program. There’s also the possibility that HR or a leadership team member will act as the program sponsor while another individual or team serves as the training administrator. 

Regardless of who manages strategy and day-to-day tactics for your employee training program, it’s important to get support from managers and other leaders in the organization. Their involvement and enthusiasm will encourage employees to participate in training and share their feedback so it can be used to improve future iterations of the employee training program.

Shelby Hiter Avatar

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