Why Your Business Needs a Great Employee Training Program - and How to Implement One
In today’s job market, most businesses are choosing between hiring for culture and hiring for skill. And culture seems to be winning.
It makes sense. Company culture isn’t trainable — either prospective new hires are a fit, or they aren’t. But skills are something that can be sharpened over time. And if you want innovative, talented people that will add value to your company culture, you need to stop worrying about whether or not they possess a perfect skillset. If you hire the right people, they’ll likely be eager to learn and prove themselves.
This approach does, however, come with some baggage: training. Your training needs to be exceptional. After all, if you’re willing to overlook the fact that your new hire may be a bit green (although a great cultural fit), then you also need to be willing to give them the tools they need to succeed. And training doesn’t come with a low price tag: In fact, the average cost-per-hire is almost $4,000.
If you hire carefully, though, this is more of an investment than a cost. Putting time and effort into developing an effective onboarding program helps ensure that your new hires know how to do their jobs well — and that they'll perform even better once acclimated.
Here are some practices to add to your employee onboarding program that should result in well-trained new hires.
Set clear learning outcomes
Don’t implement a training program just to go through the motions. That's likely a colossal waste of time. Instead, set clear goals for what each employee should know and be able to do at the end of the training program.
The type of program you assemble will largely depend on two factors:
The state of the company: Are you in a period of change? Expansion? Are you looking for short-term roles with an expected high turnover rate, or do you want to hire talent that will stick with the company long-term?
The specific roles: What are the responsibilities of the new hires? Who will they report to? This determines what they will and won’t be doing, as well as their need-to-know and helpful-to-know points.
Knowing what your new hires should get out of their training also informs the areas of training, which you can organize by area so that new hires are learning related tasks in spurts.
Regularly review and adapt the curriculum
How well do new hires integrate into the company? Is there a high employee turnover rate resulting in new hires leaving mere weeks after they start? Do supervisors and managers feel like their new employees are prepared to work after they've finished their training?
If new hires leave quickly and supervisors feel like the training process isn’t very effective, be proactive. If you have the money, you can consider hiring an external recruitment firm. But if this isn’t an option, consult with your managers to discover precise pain points. Look for online resources or design training materials of your own. Tweak (or, if necessary, completely overhaul) the training process. Determine the gaps in your hiring process so that you can easily refine it.
Ask existing employees the areas in which they'd like additional training
Training isn’t a one-time venture. It should be an ongoing process that's part of every employee’s overall professional development. It's a good way to provide pathways for advancement and keep employees engaged, motivated and loyal. Consult with your employees directly to gauge the additional training areas you should be providing.
This training may not even be delivered in a traditional format (i.e., over three days in the conference room). Instead, employees may pursue funded training externally or receive a stipend from purchasing and reviewing educational resources on their own time. If you treat training as one of your company’s employee incentives, then your team will likely take advantage of it.
Give employees a chance to put theory into practice
Plunking a stack of manuals in front of new hires and expecting them to memorize and apply that over the space of a week is rarely, if ever, the best course of action. Instead, give them the opportunity to review and then use that knowledge in a semi-supervised atmosphere.
Consider how new restaurant servers receive training. Rather than parking a new server at a table with the restaurant’s floor map and a menu, managers have the new hire shadow an experienced server for a few shifts and help serve the tables. The new employees perform the jobs themselves, but they have people right beside them to make sure they don’t make a huge mistake. There has to be an opportunity to put theory into practice.
On a related note, make it clear why specific rules are in place. If a procedure is time-consuming or cumbersome, you’re likely going to have people who cut corners. Explaining why certain processes are the way they are through examples or case studies will help employees feel motivated to follow them, and you'll be treating everyone as intelligent, respected members of the team.
A great training program requires an upfront investment in terms of time and money, but it’s likely a worthy investment if it saves you hours of re-hiring (and firing). Proper training can help set the foundation for strong employees, high company morale and effective professional development down the line.