7 Steps to Build a Successful Employee Training Program

Training your employees is — dare we say — one of the most strategic investments a business can ever make. Here are 7 steps to building an employee training program the delivers return on investment and one that your team will love.
7 steps to a successful employee onboarding program

Table of Contents

Introduction

Training your employees is — dare we say — one of the most strategic investments a business can ever make. It increases productivity, attracts top-tier talent, and boosts employee morale, increasing retention rates, among other benefits.

How to build an employee training program?

While every training program will look different, there are some fundamental basics to creating one that you should know.

Let’s cover the basics of how to build one.

1. Conduct an assessment

There are two essentials to understand before you start working on your training program.

  1. Where does the business need to go?
  2. Where are your employees currently?

That’s why it’s best to start with assessing your current approach. Where in your business is there low productivity? What are the essential skills needed for the next year? Are there any noticeable skill gaps? Are these gaps seen only in new hires or your employees with long tenures, too?

The second part of your assessment would be to talk to your employees. After all, you can’t create a program that boosts productivity levels if you don’t know what’s hindering them. 

Conduct an anonymous survey and ask team members:

  • What skills do they currently have?
  • What skills are they missing that can help them be more productive at their job?
  • What skills do they need to develop more?

Not only can this information help you create your training program, but it can also help you customize it to your employees’ needs so no part is wasted.

2. Set your training goals

Once you know where your employees stand, it’s time to set your goals. If your employees have varying knowledge and skill needs, consider creating multiple learner personas or tackling them in separate programs. 

You’ll also take the time to align your training and business goals. Surprisingly, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are other benefits of employee training, like increasing customer satisfaction. 

So, at the end of this program, what goal are you trying to accomplish that impacts employees and your business? Increased productivity? Happier customers? 

You’ll always know what you expect from this program if you write down your goals.

Workplace learning quote Cat Ward

When considering employee training program goals, consider things like;

  • How will employee performance improve after the program?
  • How will the program improve employee retention?
  • How will ROI be measured?

3. Determine the best training method for your employees

What training method will work best for your goals and learner personas?

  • New hire training

Onboarding training (also known as new hire training) is any instructions designed to get a new hire fully up to speed and ready to start their new role in confidence.

  • Ongoing employee training

Ongoing employee training is continuous training. It’s designed to ensure that employees stay up-to-date and empowered with the skills they need to perform at their best. 

  • Transitional training

Transitional training is designed to help team members transition from one role to another. 

Once you’re aware of the type of training needed to be delivered, it’s a matter of deciding how. Will it be;

  • Remote training?
  • In-person training?
  • Or a combination.

Remember however that no matter how effective the training is, learners, on average, will forget 50% of what they learned within an hour. So ensure you have a strategy and the right tools to help learners access and retain knowledge.

4. Create a plan

Your plan is where you document everything you and your employees will need for this program to succeed. For an instructor-led program, you’ll need to hire an expert. Or, if your training program is for new employee onboarding, your plan might include video lessons and simulations. 

Regardless of how your program looks, your plan will need to answer: 

  • ✅ Who is this for?
  • ✅ What topics will be covered? I.e. What will they learn?
  • ✅ How will training be delivered?
  • ✅ Who will create the content?
  • ✅ What’s the timeline?
  • ✅ What’s the goal? (p.s. You just worked on this.)
  • ✅ What resources will we need?
  • ✅ How will we measure results? 
  • ✅ What’s our budget?
  • ✅ How will we collect feedback on the program?

With employee training software like Whale, you can deliver an employee training program that delivers. 

5. Invest in the necessary training resources and content

What resources are you going to need to develop an effective employee training program?

The answer to this will depend on what type of training you aim to deliver. Irrespective of whether you send your team members on external training or whether you deliver in-house, or a blend, that you use an employee onboarding and training tool. 

In terms of resources, consider budget, tools, content, and time.

6. Create content that delivers

With your high-level work training plan in hand, it’s time to build the training content.

Creating content that team members love can be easy! Use engaging images, videos and even emojis 😜 to make it fun.

Ideally, you should consolidate all this training material in a centralized location for effortless access, both during and after the training sessions.

7. Deliver training, measure and update as needed

Drum roll, please 🥁 — it’s time to put your program into action! 

Create training flows, use quizzes to assess results and most importantly measure to see how the plan is delivering on the objectives first set out. 

Measuring your training’s effectiveness might seem like a no-brainer. But most companies don’t do it. Only about 50% of companies bother tracking what their employees have to say about the training.

Talk to your managers and see if they noticed any short- or long-term improvements. If the results were only short-term, you might need to change your program to fight the forgetting curve, which is typical in employee training.

💡 Don’t forget to get feedback employees too!

Did they find it engaging? Has it added value in their role? What could be done better? Measuring your training programs helps ensure you maximize your program’s chance of success.  

Sergey Gorbatov, Employee training

Common mistakes to avoid when building your training program

Knowing how to build a program that works also requires knowing what mistakes to watch out for. 

Watch out for these common mistakes.

Not documenting your training processes

Do you know what’s worse than documenting a training program from scratch? Needing to document the same material and processes again because you didn’t store that information somewhere. 

Not our definition of a good time. 😩

Not only can this process feel tedious, but it’s time-consuming and can take away from building and adding to your programs. Instead, use an employee training tool like Whale that helps you document your processes and training material in one place. 

Not choosing the best method for your team

There isn’t a hard and fast rule for the training methods you should choose. However, choosing a method that doesn’t align with your team and goals can hurt your program’s success rate. So, take some time to go over the information you gathered to decide which method can give you a great ROI.

Cramming too much information into one program

A common issue businesses face is throwing everything into a training program. It can be tempting to want to fix the areas your teams aren’t strong in all at once. But it can easily backfire.

Many employee training programs suffer from low course completion rates because the courses are overly lengthy. It can be challenging for employees to dedicate an hour or more of their already busy day to training sessions.

One effective solution to address this issue is microlearning, which offers short and concise learning experiences that require no more than 10 minutes to finish. These microlearning modules present information in smaller, easily digestible portions, contrasting with conventional e-learning courses that can take hours or even days to complete.

Research has demonstrated that microlearning results in higher knowledge retention compared to traditional e-learning methods.

💡 PS You can do this easily on Whale using automated training flows.

Bottom line?

While success is in the eye of the beholder, it also has tangible benefits, like the companies that train their employees experience. Luckily, by following our step-by-step guide on building your training program and watching out for those common mistakes, you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time! 

Ready to start training your employees but need somewhere to house all your training documents? Then try Whale for free today — our tool lets you organize your training documents and train your team!

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