How to Choose the Best Format for Employee Training and Education

Training & Development  |  May 30, 2019

You know that employee development matters, and that employees are interested in gaining more knowledge and skills. They want to grow in their jobs, in their careers and help their employers succeed at the same time. It’s important to know what makes your employees tick, what kind of working styles they have, and the types of development activities they feel they would benefit from.

We’d like to share with you some ideas so you can decide what forms of employee training and education you’d like to offer. Whether you design it yourself or work with a training partner the benefits are numerous. If you use an outside vendor we have some questions you’ll want to keep in mind when you interview prospective partners.

Types of training

There are numerous examples of training and education that you might want to consider. Classroom-based, instructor-led training is among the most common. Instruction is led by a qualified facilitator who shares ideas, concepts, and real-world application. Employees are often given handouts, and discussion and other activities follow the presentation.

Interactive or experiential training, another form of in-person learning, often blends a presentation with active participation by learners. Learners engage in simulations, scenarios, role plays, group activities, or games. This allows them to apply information that they’ve learned shortly after they’ve learned it, whether in acting out a scenario, or brainstorming situations in which what they’ve learned can be put to use.

Another type of training, on-the-job training, can be useful when helping employees learn new job tasks or about what is required in a new position. This learning is the most prevalent for small companies and is frequently unstructured or informal in nature. However, structured or formal on-the-job training programs have an excellent track record for success. By creating a more formal version of “job shadowing” a company can ensure specific tasks are taught and in a way that is consistent and effective.

Social learning, based on the work of Albert Bandura, is learning that happens through intentionally observing, imitating, and modeling the behavior of others. While it’s not as easy to structure, measure, and control, it can be an effective training method because learners are given an opportunity to acquire different perspectives, learn new problem-solving skills, and move outside of their typical daily roles.

Online training takes a variety of forms. Learners may work through online modules to complete a course, attend interactive webinars, watch videos, or engage in other training via the internet. Self-study courses (often offered online) allow learners to move through material at their own pace.

Microlearning is a  popular kind of online learning where participants learn in short, very specific bursts. Millennials are currently the largest percentage of the workforce (35%). The average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds. Microlearning is a great way to capitalize on their desire to learn, their comfort with the internet. Online learning allows learners the flexibility to learn when they have time, and according to their specific needs (rather than those of their coworkers), and according to their own learning style.

Each kind of training has its benefits and its drawbacks. There’s no one “magic” solution that works all the time, every time. And, no two employees are alike, so taking into account different learning styles is a must.

Questions to ask yourself to choose the right type of training

Training is a big investment of time and resources so it is important training addresses the right skills, engages employees, and can be quickly translated to performance in the workplace.  Here are three questions you should ask yourself when deciding what kind of training is going to be the most beneficial for your employees.

Question #1. What are the goals of the training program?

Knowing what you want the training program to address, what your goals are, can help you decide which method of training might be best. If you need employees to learn new company policies, an eLearning might be the most useful. However, if you need to train employees on more effective ways of dealing with conflict, interactive/experiential learning involving role-playing is likely a more useful approach, as people will have a chance to learn together how to handle difficult situations.

Question #2: Who is the program for? Who’s the primary audience?

The training needs to be designed for a specific audience. Often an audience is comprised of many different subgroups. Although it is wise to take that into consideration be sure to keep the goals and needs of the primary audience front and center. A few starter questions to consider include:

What’s the nature of the job?  

What’s the experience level of the learners?

Is it best to learn individually or as a group?

What skills (specifically) must the audience understand and be able to apply to their job?

What context or environmental situation will help the audience learn the information most quickly?

What other aspects of the business must shift in order to continually support the behavior shifts that result from learning a new skill or approach?

Question 3: What are the organization’s constraints?

Training requires time and money, two commodities that may be in short supply. If you’re short on time, elearning options might be the way to go: employees can learn during the most convenient time, and at their own pace.

An afternoon workshop requires less time away from work than a multi-day workshop. When money is an issue, try to capitalize on the knowledge of long-term employees. How could they teach other employees the necessary skills or information? (A great outside training partner can also help you maximize your budget!)

If you want to bring in outside expertise to design training that can help your employees be even better than they already are, KnowledgeForce has decades of experience doing just that!  Our innovative, application-oriented solutions make learning fun and improve outcomes. Contact us today.

Read our comprehensive employer guide on talent development.

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