4 Ways to Make Training Better for Your Employees

Learning is hard. It requires time and attention and interest—and, for training especially, money. There’s no reason to make what’s hard into a burden. In fact, good training programs invest in doing the opposite.

Workforce and talent training are no longer optional. With a rapidly changing workforce, they are essential. The challenge facing us today, the new hill to climb, is making your training better. Sometimes it’s possible to forget that the employees, the talent team, is the investment. They are the reason you’re spending time and money on training. Yes, the company wins, but the employees should be the focus—so making it better for them is pretty important.

To help with that, here are four ways you can improve training for your team:

1. Inspire, Don’t Require

Don’t require your team to get training. When you make training a requisite, it feels like homework. Nobody likes homework. Don’t put your team members in the frame of mind where training is something they have to endure just because it’s required. Avoid making it a “check-the-box” exercise.

It’s good to make it clear that certain training programs or classes are important, perhaps even necessary for an employee’s progress. If this is the case, be transparent that acquiring new skills or updating existing ones is tied to pay and advancement. Be direct about how you want your team to improve and advance both personally and professionally.

The fact is, good employees want to be better. You’ll gain great perspective by observing who does what, when they don’t feel as though they’re meeting a boring obligation.

2. Do Reward

If you’re not requiring training, reward it. Be generous with praise and reward. Ideally, you want your employees to want training, to embrace it and invest in it themselves. When they do, they not only get more out of it, it doesn’t feel like work.

For every dollar you’re spending on the training itself, set aside a few pennies to reward employees who finish. It doesn’t have to be a pay bump or bonus, although that works. Give them a shout out in a company e-mail, cater lunch for a “graduation” celebration, reserve better parking, set a breakfast with the CEO. Make them feel like they’ve accomplished something. Because they have.

3. Encourage Out-of-Area Learning

Just as you don’t want to require training, don’t restrict it either. Resist the urge to say IT people can only take IT training, for example.

There are two reasons to make the training options abundant and diverse. One: We have no way of knowing which skills or technologies will be important tomorrow. And two, again, we want employees who want to improve their skills. If someone in IT perks up about leadership training, that’s a good thing. Find a way to encourage that. In other words, we have no idea where tomorrow’s leaders will come from or what skills they’ll need.

Moreover, it would be great if your sales team understood some data software or your logistics team could improve their writing skills. Yes, training costs. But ambition, eagerness, and curiosity are priceless. Don’t limit them or accidently reinforce the “that’s all I am” mindset.

4. Go Online

With most of the corporate workforce now entirely remote due to COVID-19, it is the perfect time to focus on incorporating online courses into your training programs. There are a variety of options when it comes to online learning, but they mainly fall into two categories: live classes and video tutorials.

Online live classes work best for employees who want a full classroom experience. These classes are led by instructors and let learners interact in real time with their instructors. Video tutorials are pre-recorded videos that cover the same content as instructor-led courses, just without the interaction. These courses are best for workers who enjoy more flexibility in terms of scheduling and feel comfortable learning on their own.

Learning is hard. It requires time and attention and interest—and, for training especially, money. There’s no reason to make what’s hard into a burden. In fact, good training programs invest in doing the opposite.

Training can be a good, productive, and rewarding experience for your team. Following a few simple tips such as those above may help.

Dave Saben is the chief experience officer and executive vice president at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, an independent technology and career training provider and an official training partner with Microsoft, Cisco, and other leading IT companies.

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