7 Steps to Writing Learning Objectives for Employee Training

If you write effective learning objectives for training, you will motivate your employees to learn new things.

7 Steps to Writing Learning Objectives for Employee Training

What is the purpose of writing learning objectives for employee training?

Well-written objectives answer all questions your employees have regarding the training, such as: What we will study? When? How? And, most importantly, why?

Setting well-defined learning objectives will:

  • Boost engagement
  • Facilitate the training process
  • Achieve higher results
  • Make assessment easier

Steps to Follow

Step #1: Think about your business goals first

If you want to make out the most of employee training, you should align learning objectives with your business goals.

The first thing you should do is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the primary purpose of this training?
  • How will this training help my employees, and how will it benefit my business?

Let’s say you have a goal to increase overall productivity by 20 percent. To hit this goal, you are going to train your employees on how to use new order management software. The learning objective for your employee training can sound like this:

“After X software course, employees will be able to process 20 percent-plus more orders daily.”

Step #2: Use the SMART approach

When you set objectives, you should always use the SMART approach. Each of your objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Otherwise, your employees will not have a clear idea of why you are requiring them to take the training.

Here is an example of a not-SMART learning objective for employee training:

Employees will learn how to use the basic features of Microsoft Excel.

Here is an example of a SMART learning objective:

In three weeks, employees will learn how to create spreadsheets and charts in Microsoft Excel and use them for marketing purposes.

This objective meets all the criteria set:

  • Specific: Employees will acquire a specific skill—they will learn how to create spreadsheets and charts in Microsoft Excel.
  • Measurable: You can measure the success of the training. If all employees can build a spreadsheet and chart without outside help, the training objective has been met.
  • Achievable: The goal is not too demanding.
  • Relevant: It identified a need for using Excel for marketing purposes.
  • Time-based: Three weeks


Step #3: Get to know your employees better

You write learning objectives for your employees, not for yourself, right? Make sure you know what your employees want and need. Ask them direct questions, run a survey, or get to know their opinion in another way.

Let’s say you are going to develop mental health training. What kind of prep work can you do? You can run a health and wellness survey to find out what worries your employees the most.

For instance, if the results of the survey show that most of your employees face difficulties with managing stress in the workplace, your learning objective would be:

In two weeks, employees will learn how to apply effective stress management techniques and stay calm at work.

Step #4: Choose verbs wisely

Proper verb choices define the effectiveness of your learning objectives. You should use verbs that better describe and specify the outcomes of the training.

Let’s consider an example to clarify this idea. Here are two similar learning objectives for employee training. The only difference between the two of them is the verb choice.

  • Employees will understand Six Sigma principles.
  • Employees will be able to apply Six Sigma principles.

The second objective is the right one to use. Why? It better describes the value and purpose of the training. It explains that employees will not just understand Six Sigma principles but also obtain a clear idea of how to apply these principles in their everyday work.

Here is a list of verbs you can use to enhance your learning objectives:

  • Prioritize
  • Categorize
  • Solve
  • Organize
  • Implement
  • Execute
  • Measure
  • Determine

Step #5: Keep it sweet and short

Your employees neither have the time nor desire to read long texts. So, please, keep the learning objectives brief and to the point. Each objective should be only one or two sentences long. The length of each sentence shouldn’t exceed 30 words.

Present the key highlights of the training course without going into details. If your employees have additional questions regarding the training, they will ask you personally.

Step #6: Strive for simplicity

When writing learning objectives, strive to eliminate wordiness. Stick to the active voice, avoid unnecessary language, and use simpler word choices when possible. Here are a few examples of redundant phrases you should replace:

  • Make a choice: Choose, decide
  • Be aware of the fact that: Note, understand
  • Has the capability to: Can

You can get help online to simplify your writing. Check reviews of writing and editing services and find an expert you can trust.

Step #7: Proofread learning objectives

Making a typo or grammar mistake in learning objectives will undermine your training efforts. To avoid that, always proofread objectives before sharing them with your employees. Ensure that every word is spelled correctly and every sentence is written the right way. If your grammar skills are not perfect, don’t hesitate to use online grammar checkers or a proofreading service.

Take these seven steps to write clear learning objectives. Doing so will help motivate your employees and boost your training efforts.

Daniela McVicker is a blogger and freelance writer with a degree in social psychology. She works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing blog writing, copywriting, and ghostwriting services.