Imagine all your employees sitting in a lecture hall, pencils in hand, eagerly awaiting the knowledge that is about to rain down upon them. Of course, they absorb it all and return to work more productive, savvier, and (why not?) happier, too.
If that doesn’t sound familiar, it could be that you haven’t found the best employee training techniques.
There are a lot of reasons you might be seeking out education for your employees.
- You have new hires who need to learn the ropes.
- You want to introduce new software or a new product.
- You want to give your people the edge they need to stay competitive in an ever-changing industry landscape.
All of these reasons are good motivators to put employee training methods in place that will help you improve organizational performance and retain top talent. After all, training is good for your employees, and it’s good for business.
But when you do training, you’ve got to do it right. If you don’t have a clear objective for training, don’t follow through to ensure competence, or aren’t using employee training techniques that are effective you will waste precious time and money.
No matter why you’re offering the training opportunity, there are a lot of training techniques for trainers to consider. These include:
- Group Projects
- Mentoring or Coaching
- Virtual Reality
- Online Courses
Each of these fit into at least one of five broad categories: classroom, interactive, hands-on, computer-based, and online, which can be on or off the job.
You might offer off-the-job training in the form of seminars, classes, or at-home studies; for on-the-job training methods, examples might include presentations, discussions, or webinars. Choosing the one (or the combination) that’s right for your team depends on your training goals, budget, time, and audience. Let’s take a closer look:
The classic student-teacher scenario is still popular today for many reasons. The classroom brings you together with your trainees, offering time for connection. It allows for a wide variety of teaching techniques, including:
- Large and small group discussions
- Tests and quizzes
- Stories and presentations
- Role-playing and trainee-led presentations
Creative classroom learning can be especially effective when it incorporates several of those techniques.
- Low Budget: Keep it in-house by hosting the class at each office location and having a manager make the presentation.
- High Budget: Hire an engaging speaker, or pay for the entire team to travel to a seminar or other event.
- Best for: Classroom training is great if you’re teaching relatively simple material (or material that can be taught in a few hours) to a large number of employees.
- Downsides: It can be hard to get everyone together. You need to make sure you have a dynamic presenter, otherwise, you run the risk of your trainees’ zoning out. Shy employees might not engage with the group.
- How to make it More Effective: Add gamification elements to your classroom setting to encourage collaboration and a little friendly competition.
Interactive and Hands-On Learning
Hands-on learning experiences give your employees a chance to practice while they learn. In fact, this is a great way for the trainer to assess whether or not they’ve acquired the necessary skills. Interactive activities can be fun, and they allow the employees to get involved and excited about the new material.
- Low Budget: If you are training on equipment or software you already have (or needed to buy anyway) and can have a manager conduct the training, you can save considerably.
- High Budget: A specialized instructor can raise the cost.
- Best for: Those who need to learn a new skill or how to use a new product. This might be best for smaller groups of employees, depending on whether or not you need special equipment or a large space for each trainee.
- Downsides: Hands-on learning can take longer because not everyone learns at the same pace. You might have to slow down to allow some trainees to complete the task or project. If your interactive approach uses coaching or mentoring, it could disrupt your employee’s work, although it is worth noting that mentoring can greatly reduce your yearly training expenses.
- Make it More Effective: A peer learning program allows you to use the resources you already have to spread skills and knowledge throughout your team. This makes training opportunities incredibly accessible for your employees on an ongoing basis. That coaching element can also help your employees retain new skills and information.
As evidenced by the number of universities offering online degree programs, computer-based learning continues to grow in popularity, and for a good reason. You can create one training program that can be used again and again, and employees can access it on their own time (and review the material to deepen their understanding). It’s easy to track what your trainees have completed and learned.
Short lessons appeal to the learner’s busy schedule and short attention span, and the ability to control the learning process helps each trainee remember the material better.
- Low Budget: A webinar or teleconference to connect satellite offices can be very cost-effective when led by current team members.
- High Budget: A customized online learning program, complete with webinars, instructor-led training, compliance measures, assessment, and more will be more expensive, but you end up with a professional product that can be used for years.
- Best for: Large, scattered groups who need access to the same material.
- Downsides: If the course doesn’t provide a way to get trainee questions answered, online learning can quickly become overwhelming to someone with little prior knowledge of the course material.
- Make it More Effective: A well-designed online learning program with easily digestible text and video not only builds confidence in trainees because of its professional look and easy-to-use interface, but it is also made to meet your training needs. Hire an LMS vendor to help you customize your program.
You might combine a variety of employee training techniques. Start with an online learning program to give your employees control over how and when they learn, and add quick classroom sessions, group discussions, and hands-on mentoring to drive the information home.
At Knowledge Anywhere, we’ve been creating learning management solutions since 1998, and we’d love to help you develop training that will make your employees more productive, savvier, and, sure, we’ll say it, happier. Let’s get started.
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