In theory, everyone understands the importance of employee training: In order for members of a workforce to perform well and adhere to certain standards, it’s imperative to provide them with all the information they need in a digestible format.
But in practice, organizations are often met with some measure of resistance when it comes time to hold training sessions. Some invitees will inevitably grumble at having to step away from their desks or sit through another “boring” training session. Other participants will simply have a difficult time paying attention or seeing the connection between what they’re learning and what they do on a daily basis. This allows important training material to slip through the cracks.
It’s in every company’s best interest to maximize employee engagement and retention. Here are four ways to improve training with these goals in mind.
Set Expectations from the Get-Go
Many employee training sessions fall short because they fail to address one simple question: Why do we need to know this? Telling employees they need to sit through a training session “just because” it’s a requirement is far from motivating. But demonstrating the real-world importance of a session gives people a reason to care, which goes a long way in driving attentiveness.
According to a focus group from the Society of Human Resource Management, here are the top three answers to “what employees wanted and needed” in terms of training and development:
- What was expected of them re: training
- Why they needed to know this material
- How to put what they learned into action
Introduce the stakes early, letting employees know whether they’ll be facing testing about what they’ve learned and how it’ll impact their workflows going forward. Make sure to avoid glossing over the “why” because it’s just as important as the “what.”
Gauge Learning & Retention as You Go
It’s inefficient to present a steady stream of material to trainees then check to make sure they understand after the fact. It’s a better bet to make any corporate training you hold interactive, using a live polling tool like Poll Everywhere to quiz participants throughout and let them submit their burning questions.
When trainers are able to gauge learning and retention in real time, they can clarify points and clear up misconceptions while training is still in session. Interactivity encourages everyone in the room to engage, allowing space for a helpful two-way dialogue between trainers and trainees.
Choose the Best Trainers for the Job
Now consider the “who” of employee training. The most effective instructors have a winning combination of knowledge, an understanding of how best to convey complex information clearly, and the ability to deliver it in an engaging manner.
Even the most knowledgeable instructor will lose their audience if they’re presenting information in a drone-like manner. Conversely, someone who’s passionate and enthusiastic will only get so far without an airtight understanding of the subject matter at hand. Look for someone who’s able to embody both qualities for the best results.
Gather Genuine Employee Feedback
When in doubt, rely on feedback from actual employees who’ve undergone training courses. If your company has difficulty getting employees to leave honest reviews after completing training, change your approach.
You may need to implement anonymous surveying to protect people’s identities—this will help them open up without fear of professional or personal consequences.
Your organization may also need to adjust its timing on collecting feedback; doing so too soon or too long after the training will affect the quality of the results.
Improving employee training is a matter of setting employee expectations, choosing the right trainer, boosting interactivity during the session and finding a way to get genuine feedback so you can keep improving your business’s approach to training.