Key takeaways

  • Training methods can be categorized by purpose, function, and technique.
  • The best training strategies combine all three types for the most holistic employee learning experience.
  • Learning management systems help you create comprehensive training programs for your employees.

What are the different types of training?

Company training can take various forms, from role-playing to onboarding or employee professional development. However, to quickly understand the different types of training, let’s categorize them by purpose, function, and technique.

  • Purpose: Training types that cover a broad range of topics closely related to the different development stages of workers on the employee life cycle.
  • Function: Training types that cover a narrow topic, usually based on the company’s policies or values or on the employee’s role or department.
  • Technique: Training types based on how you present them to the learner, such as instructor-led.

Different training types often overlap. For example, a construction company may discuss safety, a specific topic, during their company’s overall compliance training. And it may be delivered to learners through both eLearning and hands-on training.

According to SHRM and TalentLMS’s 2022 Workplace Learning and Development Trends, 76% of employees say they are more likely to stay with an organization that offers continuous training. Therefore, understanding the types of training your organization can leverage helps you build a comprehensive learning and development (L&D) program and improve employee retention.

A chart categorizes training types by purpose, function, and technique. Purpose-based training covers a broad range of topics and includes orientation, onboarding, compliance, upskilling or reskilling, and technical skills development. Function-based training covers a narrow or specific topic and includes quality assurance, customer service, safety, technology and cybersecurity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, products and services, leadership, and teamwork. Technique-based training focuses on training delivery methods and includes eLearning, instructor-led, interactive, hands-on, coaching and mentoring, and self-paced.

Types of training by purpose

Purpose-based training types encompass many topics to help companies and employees achieve a particular goal. For instance, offering technical skills development training can aid your company’s recruitment efforts and expand an employee’s knowledge of their role.

Examples of purpose-based trainings include:

  • Orientation.
  • Onboarding.
  • Compliance.
  • Upskilling or reskilling.
  • Technical skills development.


Orientation training typically occurs during the first week a new hire joins an organization, often within the first day or two. Training topics during orientation typically include:

  • Handbook policies (such as codes of conduct).
  • Company mission statement and values.
  • Organizational structure and leadership hierarchy.
  • Administrative setup (such as company badges, computer passwords, or new hire paperwork).
  • Benefits and perks.

In contrast to onboarding training, office administrators or human resources (HR) teams typically run orientation training since it focuses on topics that all employees should be familiar with. Most HR software provides ways to make orientation a smooth experience, like preboarding workflows, organizational charts, and centralized document storage for on-demand access.

Learn more about our favorite platforms for smaller businesses in Best Human Resources (HR) Software for Small Businesses in 2023.


Onboarding training teaches employees how to perform their jobs and how their role aligns with greater company goals and priorities. Unlike orientation training, onboarding occurs over an extended period, sometimes up to three months or a year after the new employee’s hire date.

Onboarding may look different within your organization depending on the employee’s role or department, so successful training involves collaboration among L&D, HR teams, and managers. Investing in learning management systems (LMSs), like TalentLMS, can automatically deliver training to new hires at the right time during their ramp-up, ensuring they build upon previous learning.

Talent LMS displays dialogue boxes for automated training assignments and notifications.
TalentLMS allows you to create automations for essential onboarding training, freeing up time for managers to help new recruits put their training into practice. Source: TalentLMS


Some federal and state laws require training, depending on your industry. Compliance training involves any training you issue employees to adhere to these regulations.

For example, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Training Requirements outline mandatory courses employers in specific industries must offer, like fire detection and prevention in construction.

States may also require you to train employees on particular subjects, such as sexual harassment and non-discrimination training in California or workplace violence prevention courses for public employers in New York. Become familiar with your state’s and industry’s laws to ensure you offer all legally required training.

Upskilling and reskilling

Organizations use upskilling or reskilling training as a strategy during tight talent markets to fill particular business objectives. While both focus on teaching employees new skills, upskilling focuses on expanding employees’ knowledge within their current roles for increased performance. In contrast, reskilling prepares employees with the skills needed to move into entirely different positions.

For instance, you may offer upskilling training to prepare an employee for a promotion or to take on more responsibilities. Meanwhile, you may provide reskilling training if their current job becomes obsolete after adopting new technologies and prevent layoffs.

Performance management software like 15Five supports upskilling or reskilling employees as part of your larger talent strategy. The platform’s Career Hub helps align employee aspirations with bigger-picture company goals and outline the hard and soft skills they need to advance.

15Five's Career Hub displays a team's goals and their respective timelines for each employee.
15Five includes a career hub for managers to monitor their direct reports’ training and development to encourage improvement in areas that will benefit the business. Source: 15Five

Technical skills development

Technical skills development covers any training needed for employees to stay current with their role’s latest research, skills, or technologies. For example, a software developer may take courses to become certified in the latest coding language, while a nurse completes continuing education units (CEUs) to keep their license.

In the case of the nurse, technical skills development may be a mandatory legal requirement to continue practicing. Meanwhile, for the software engineer, it may be part of their professional development goals. Software like Culture Amp can help workers build and track their employee development plans, while platforms like Coursera can help you provide the right courses.

Coursera recommends data analytics and app development courses based on an employee's skill score.
Coursera offers a selection of online, on-demand courses from over 300 businesses and universities to help employees stay up-to-date in their areas of expertise. Source: Coursera

Types of training by function

Training courses by function are much narrower in scope. Whereas purpose-based training centers around the “why” of the training, function-based training is designed with a specific “what” in mind.

Functional training can vary by industry, company, department, and role, but below are some major examples:

  • Safety.
  • Technology and cybersecurity.
  • Products and services.
  • Customer service.
  • Leadership.
  • Quality assurance.
  • Teamwork.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Safety training teaches employees to prevent workplace injuries or accidents between employees and customers. It can also help minimize damage to company property or equipment.

Safety training is vital for companies in high-risk industries like chemical manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and transportation. While some companies provide safety training for compliance purposes, others have entire safety departments or programs dedicated to the task.

OSHA offers materials or OSHA-led training programs for your employees’ safety training, such as fire prevention, emergency action plans, or personal protective equipment (PPE). You can learn more about some of the courses at the OSHA Outreach Training Program.

Technology and cybersecurity

Technology and cybersecurity training teaches new employees how to use job-specific hardware and software as well as the strategies and tools necessary to protect confidential company and customer data. For example, a new recruiter might need training on using your company’s applicant tracking system while also learning how to detect and avoid phishing scams when interacting with candidates through company email.

Jennifer Therrien, VP of Talent Management and Development at Vensure Employer Services, explains the creative way her team handles cybersecurity training for her company’s employees. In addition to teaching employees that they are the “first line of defense” against cyber-attacks through messaging and awareness campaigns, they also run phishing simulations to measure the effectiveness of their training.

“We have seen a continued steady increase in the number of employees passing our phishing simulations,” says Therrien. Training employees on the importance of keeping data safe alongside their training tools is a great way to minimize the chance of leaking any proprietary, financial, or HIPAA-protected data.

Products and services

Products and services training teaches employees in-depth about their company’s products, goods, or services. Although this training typically targets sales or marketing teams to move customers toward a purchase, companies can also make this training mandatory for all employees. Doing so makes sure they can speak knowledgeably about their offerings to customers or clients.

For instance, restaurants train kitchen and wait staff on their menu choices to learn how to make the food or help patrons place an order. Meanwhile, a retail associate must know about products to direct customers to a particular item of interest or make recommendations. As such, obligating staff to understand your business’s money-making aspects could be crucial to improving your customers’ experience.

Customer service

Customer service training teaches customer-facing employees the skills, tools, strategies, and etiquette to provide excellent customer experiences. Training will typically involve learning the ins and outs of your products or services and the soft skills needed to assist, redirect, negotiate, and effectively communicate with customers. Some of the soft skills this training may cover include:

  • Communication.
  • Patience.
  • Active listening.
  • Problem solving.
  • Empathy.
  • Flexibility.
  • Leadership.
  • Teamwork.

Most companies will need to offer customer service in some fashion, so many online platforms already offer free or low-cost customer service courses you can leverage. Coursera, for example, hosts a popular Customer Service Fundamentals course that you can assign new employees to finish before interacting with your customers.


For managers or those in positions of authority, leadership training teaches them the soft skills necessary to make decisions, adequately delegate responsibilities, and work collaboratively with direct reports or peers. Although a soft skill, leadership is essential training for any higher-up in an organization since it directly affects:

  • Employee attrition.
  • Employee engagement.
  • Progress toward company goals.
  • Team alignment.
  • Conflict resolution.

At TechnologyAdvice, we offer multiple ways for employees to prepare for leadership positions. For example, we host an Emerging Leadership Academy, mentorship programs, and on-demand leadership courses in our LMS. These provide leaders the flexibility to learn at their own pace and the resources to be effective changemakers in their company.

TechnologyAdvice's LMS displays a list of lessons in a leadership course on giving feedback to employees.
Our Leadership Certification program offers several modules for managers to become effective leaders, including strategies for giving critical feedback to direct reports. Source: TechnologyAdvice

Quality assurance

Quality assurance training teaches employees what makes an outstanding product or service for your company and how to maintain this quality standard. Effective quality assurance training can directly affect your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.

EdApp offers several courses in quality assurance to help employees learn about process standards and documentation, ISO 9000, and audits. By using either EdApp’s massive 1,000+ ready-made courses or its AI create feature, you can craft quality assurance courses tailored to your business.

EdApp displays a dialogue box for prompting AI to create a course on the topic of visual merchandising.
EdApp’s AI can develop courses from scratch with just a few words, so all you have to do is refine the course to fit your company’s needs. Source: EdApp

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training involves teaching employees about the lived experiences of coworkers from different backgrounds. The goal is to encourage positive interactions and communication among employees while reducing the risk of discriminatory behavior in the workplace.

According to Pew Research’s 2023 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace study, 56% of workers indicate that focusing on DEI in the workplace is a good thing. Formal DEI training can illustrate your company’s sincere commitment to positive change, along with efforts like implementing employee resource groups.

Melanie Fountaine, co-founder and COO of Joshin, an inclusive support solution for employers, notes the positive impact of their disability and neurodivergent training on her client’s recruitment and hiring efforts. The result: 91% of learners indicate increased comfort in discussing, accommodating individuals, and supporting disabled and neurodivergent candidates.

Thus, with effective DEI training, you can change your company’s employee makeup and support a more harmonious workplace that drives increased growth and innovation.

Types of training by technique

The different training techniques below can help you accommodate workers’ diverse learning styles, whether visual, audio, or kinesthetic.

Electronic learning (eLearning) involves using various digital tools to deliver training, such as videos, podcasts, virtual seminars, courses, or tests. Most eLearning involves using an LMS for creating, sending, or tracking training courses across your distributed workforce.

Also read: LMS Features You Need for a Great E-Learning Program.

Hands-on or on-the-job training teaches employees about their roles by having them perform their duties in the presence of a trainer. As a type of experiential learning, examples include job shadowing, apprenticeships, job rotations, or internships. 

Instructor-led is a type of off-the-job training where instructors teach employees in a traditional, classroom-like setting, such as a lecture or seminar. Instructor-led courses can be live or pre-recorded for employees to participate in person or virtually.

Self-paced learning involves training through resources that employees access on their terms. Often this involves studying topics by examining case studies, reading professional development books, keeping pace with emerging trends, or reviewing other required readings or textbooks.

Similar to hands-on learning, interactive training involves learning through doing. However, hands-on training typically forces employees to learn in real-world situations. Interactive training, comparatively, involves engaging with learning material in a controlled environment so employees can make mistakes while learning from their peers.

Examples of interactive learning include:

  • Role-playing: Employees work with a coworker or group and act out scenarios with help from an instructor or trainer.
  • Simulation: Compared to role-playing, simulation training places employees in real-world situations with the help of virtual or augmented reality to learn and test their skills.
  • Gamification: Employees learn important concepts by playing games and earning rewards to promote friendly peer competition.

Coaching and mentoring involve one-on-one training between an employee and a more experienced individual. The individual could be a manager, coworker, coach, or outside expert.

Companies assign career coaches to employees for a short term to help them achieve a particular milestone, such as completing a project. In contrast, companies match mentors and mentees together to foster more meaningful professional development relationships that last for the long term.

Usually, the most effective training incorporates digital and in-person training techniques, known as blended learning.

Vensure’s Jennifer Therrien explains how blended learning can cater to workers: “For visual learners, use infographics, videos, and charts. For auditory learners, employ lectures, group discussions, and podcasts. Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on workshops, simulations, and role-playing exercises.”

Zoho People’s LMS is an example of software that facilitates a blended learning experience through traditional classroom and self-paced virtual training courses. This allows for a more holistic learning experience and increases the likelihood of knowledge retention. 

Zoho People displays a window for managing a virtual classroom.
Zoho People’s LMS offers various training techniques, including interactive virtual classrooms for employees to attend from anywhere in the world. Source: Zoho People

How do you select the best training method for your business?

Determining which training method to use for your business is complicated because every company and learner is different. Andrea Meyer, Director of Benefit Services at WorkSmart Systems, notes a few factors to consider when choosing your training methods: business goals, employee needs, budget and resources, and relevance.

  • Business goals: What are your company’s objectives, and how can employee training help you accomplish them? For example, a skills gap analysis can help you pinpoint areas lacking employee knowledge.
  • Employee needs: What areas do you see employees struggling in, and how can you help them be successful? You can use employee engagement software to survey employees to identify what kinds of training will be the most impactful.
  • Budget and resources: How much are you willing to budget on L&D staff, trainers, engaging LMS software, or other resources to facilitate your training? And how much time are you willing to dedicate to employee training?
  • Relevance: What training type makes the most sense for your business and benefits the most learners? How often can you update the training method to provide your employees with the most up-to-date and practical knowledge?

You’ll find that the best training types are utterly unique to you. For example, Rachel Baldi, co-owner and COO of UpLevel Productions, offers grief and end-of-life training to “bring more humanity and wellbeing into the workplace.” Similarly, the right training demonstrates your willingness to invest in the personal and professional success of your employees.

If you need help figuring out where to start, check out our Learning Management System Software Guide for a complete list of solutions to enhance your company training programs.

Or, check out our video below for an overview of the best corporate LMS:

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