5 Popular Employee Training Methods For Workplace Training (And How To Choose Between Them)
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How To Choose The Right Training Methods For Employees

In the era of larger talent gaps and intelligent technologies, the need for training and development has never been so important before. Skills are short-lived and companies are feeling the squeeze. This is probably why companies have finally turned their full attention to ongoing training for employees, investing as much as $87.6 billion into training in 2018 [1].

Disappointingly, though, only 34% of these companies feel that training is effective. So, as the industry continues to evolve, it’s critical that Learning and Development professionals know how to make their programs as effective as possible. The first step is choosing the right training methods for employees.

The 5 Most Popular Ways To Train Employees

Staff training methods come in all shapes and sizes, and the variety keeps growing bigger with each passing year. This means that every team, department, and company can choose the best training methods for their particular needs. So, what’s on the training menu? Let’s take a look at the different types of training methods available today.

Traditional Training Methods

Traditional approaches to training still offer a number of benefits and are commonly found in many companies today. Here is a list of training methods from the traditional category that should be considered when choosing the best training techniques for employees in your company.

1. Classroom-Based Training Programs

Usually led by a qualified facilitator, classroom learning takes place over one or more days in a physical venue on- or off-site. Groups of employees go through a series of presentation slides and activities, like case study assessments or information on company policy issues.

The advantage of classroom-based training is that a group of employees can attain large amounts of knowledge at the same time. Unfortunately, the disadvantages are many: hired venues, travel, and catering make this training method costly. Employees also find this approach to training boring.

2. Interactive Training

One of the most effective training methods in the workplace, interactive training actively involves learners in their own learning experience. This training can take the form of simulations, scenarios, role plays, quizzes or games.

By practicing their new skills and applying them in realistic work scenarios, learners are not only more engaged but more likely to retain what they’ve learned, too. However, it can be time-consuming when done in person, especially when learners require regular feedback from a content expert.

3. On-The-Job Training

With on-the-job training, not only are employees actively involved in learning, but they also participate in real activities that relate to their current or future job. This is one of the most effective training methods for succession planning.

This type of training can result in rapid learning because employees are thrown into the proverbial deep end. This experience can be a little too stressful for some employees, let alone time-consuming, because of the frequent input required.

Modern Training Methods

In the modern workplace that consists of remote employees and diverse cultures, training methods for employees have changed. So, how do we approach learning in such a complex workplace? The answer lies in two words: ‘social’ and ‘online’.

4. Social Learning

Originating from Albert Bandura's work in the ’70s [2], social learning is commonly defined as learning from others by observing, imitating and modeling their behavior. Social learning can be a very intentional workplace training method, too.

Social learning isn’t found in many of the common training methods, mostly because it’s not as easy to structure, measure and control. Yet it can be very effective, because employees are pushed beyond the boundaries of their daily roles, acquiring new perspectives and problem-solving skills.

5. Online Training

eLearning, or online training, has become one of the most widely recognized solutions to the challenge of how to train employees effectively. Online workplace training programs can include eLearning courses, webinars, videos, etc., and allow information to be presented and tested in many different ways.

The variety that online training offers means that employees can learn according to their style and immediate needs. It also means they can learn on the go. The downside? Little more than the initial development costs and service fees of a reliable Learning Management System (LMS).

How To Choose The Right Workplace Training Methods

While it might seem fantastic to have so many options available, choosing the right training methods for employees is an important decision. It doesn’t matter how much money you invest in training if it’s the wrong training. After all, even an expensive square peg won’t fit into a round hole.

Here are 3 questions to identify the most effective employee training methods for your training program.

1. What Is The Purpose Of The Training Program?

The first step is always to define the objectives of the training program because certain training methods for employees are better suited for each one. For example, a classroom-based training session might be effective for delivering information about company employee relations policies. However, this same method won’t be effective in educating managers on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace. Role plays and scenarios would be better suited in this case.

When new or existing skills need to be developed, interactive training and eLearning are often most effective. When these skills are soft skills (like problem-solving), rather than technical skills, social learning techniques can also be successful. When planning for succession or looking to shape specific workplace behaviors, on-the-job training methods like coaching are effective.

New knowledge, for example, about the causes of employee burnout, can be acquired through simple training techniques like reading, written notes, infographics or even a seminar. Using online videos and webinars has the added advantage of making this learning convenient for the employee.

2. Who Is The Intended Audience?

Renowned marketing guru, Chris Brogan, says that we should always "make the buyer the hero". And this principle has just as much relevance in learning as it does in marketing. Training is most effective when the target audience understands and believes in the benefits of the training program. So, the most effective training methods make the learner the hero.

Factors to consider here include demographics, nature of the job, level of seniority, and whether or not learning will take place in a group or per individual. Let’s unpack these considerations.

Demographics

Employees who fall into older generational categories might be more comfortable with traditional training methods than eLearning courses. Similarly, Millennials would likely be more invested in learning if it occurred on the devices they use throughout the day.

Social learning methods would be more effective in cultures where shared values and community are prioritized over individual goals or competition. Online training is most effective when employees are geographically dispersed.

Nature Of The Job

Jobs that require frequent travel typically benefit from the convenience of online training methods. Similarly, jobs, where knowledge might need to be acquired quickly, would benefit from bite-sized and accessible chunks of knowledge on an LMS. For example, a customer support officer might need to learn how to resolve a customer’s technical issue while they are still on the phone!

When jobs are relatively simple, they often require basic knowledge and skills that can be learned with little practice. However, the best training techniques for employees with complex technical jobs are those that require active participation, like interactive training methods.

Level Of Seniority

Senior roles often share a few similar characteristics. These employees require soft skills like leadership and emotional intelligence. They are also busy, and their Learning and Development goals are unique. This means that they might require a combination of training methods in order to meet their learning objectives.

Online training provides them with the convenience of accessing their training when and where they prefer. It also enables them to select modules of content that are most relevant to them. However, seminars and leadership conferences can also provide positive opportunities for social learning and the acquisition of new knowledge related to industry trends.

Individual Versus Group Learning

When only one or two employees share the same learning objective, training methods like assignments or coaching can be effective.

However, when many employees must acquire the same knowledge or skills, classroom-based training sessions, social learning techniques, and eLearning can be more effective and efficient. For example, an IT team that needs to learn about phishing could attend a live webinar or complete an eLearning course in their own time.

3. What Are The Constraints?

Training is rarely, if ever, free. It requires an investment of money, time, and other resources. Even coaching, for example, takes valuable time away from an experienced and often senior employee in order to promote another employee’s education.

When time is scarce, stick to training methods that are quick and convenient. A one-day classroom-based workshop might do the job. Or, if employees are not based in the same workspace and the company already has an LMS up and running, consider making the learning materials available online.

When the budget is tight, the best training methods tend to be those that leverage the knowledge and experience of existing employees and avoid the need for an external Subject Matter Expert or facilitator. Techniques like coaching, assignments, job rotation and internally hosted webinars can be cost-effective. eLearning courses that make use of curated information, like existing online videos, infographics, and articles can also work.

Conclusion

Today, training is rarely a once-off event. For companies to survive and thrive, they must continuously develop their employees’ skills and encourage workplace learning. So, in most cases, a variety of training methods will be useful at some stage of the learning journey.

In fact, surveys have shown, time and time again, that employees favor a blended delivery approach. Using both offline and online training methods is made even easier with the help of a Learning Management System like TalentLMS. An LMS can organize all your training methods in one place (even face-to-face seminars) and track progress at the same time.

As long as you choose methods for the right purpose, audience, and budget, your training program stands a strong chance of developing your employees the way you intend.

References:

  1. 2018 Training Industry Report
  2. Social Learning Theory
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