4 Secrets Behind the Best Employee Training

Have you ever considered that your digital-generation employees might prefer face-to-face training?

learn more about Heather R. Huhman

By Heather R. Huhman

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In many ways, employee training is the secret to the long-term success of a workforce. The opportunities employees are given to grow and develop allow them to do their best work and advance their careers. These opportunities also keep a company competitive as its industry changes and evolves.

From the top senior leadership to the newest hires, everyone benefits from great employee training. There's just one problem: Most employees hate the training they receive.

Related: 4 Ways to Train Employees Effectively

The State of Employee Training 2015 report from West Unified Communications Services surveyed more than 200 full-time employees about their experience with work training. One-third of respondents said the training they'd been through wasn't a productive use of time. Another third said the material wasn't interesting or engaging.

Clearly, there's a disconnect between the purpose of employee training and how it's actually being implemented. A big part of the problem is the assumption that one method of learning benefits everyone. But as any visual learner who's struggled through a math class knows, that's not true. To give employees the best learning experience, employees must consider what makes them unique.

Here are four ways to find out what type of training is best for employees:

1. Evaluate generational gaps.

When you consider the evolution of educational technology over the past few decades, it makes sense that there are generational differences in how employees prefer to learn. But the differences might not be what's expected.

A 2016 study of 1,000 professionals by Activia Training found that younger employees prefer the classroom as a learning setting over elearning. While 55.9 percent of employees between 18 and 24 in the study had a positive attitude toward classroom learning, just 15.9 percent liked elearning.

At first, this might seem counterintuitive. Why would the digital generation prefer face-to-face training? But, consider the different lifestyles of younger and older employees. Older employees are more likely to be balancing work with family and children at home, which makes the flexibility of elearning more appealing to them. Younger employees, on the other hand, have just recently left school, making the classroom setting more familiar.

Address these generational gaps by offering employee training options that can meet every lifestyle. And let employees choose. Just because the majority of younger workers prefer classroom learning doesn't mean all do. Give individuals the chance to pick the course that's right for them.

2. Consider all learning types.

One of the biggest factors in the success of training is how engaging the material is. If employees can't feel a connection with what they're learning, it's less likely that they'll absorb and be able to recall the information later on. Some people learn better through hands-on methods, while others learn better independently.

By providing a variety of ways for employees to learn about and practice their skills, employers increase their chances of finding an engaging method that works for them. For example, many believe that rote repetition of a task is the best way to master something. However, 2014 research from Harvard BusinessSchool found that learning is more effective when the learner takes the time to reflect after performing a task, rather than just repeating it over and over.

Allow employees time to think about what they've just learned, so they can interpret and interact with the material in a way that makes sense to them. Maybe they need to write out the process in their own words, have a conversation about what they just did or even show the skill to someone else. Whatever form of reflection fits them as an individual will help them learn more efficiently.

Related: 'Gamified' Employee Training Works Brilliantly but Is Loved Little

3. Address your teams' and individuals' strengths and weaknesses.

The whole point of employee training is to give the team the skills and information they need to perform at their highest level. However, not everyone starts out at the same level or even needs to know the same skills. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and the overall team, employers can implement more effective training.

For example, say there's new software coming out that will make the entire organization run more smoothly. Chances are, everyone would benefit from experience with and basic knowledge of how the program works. In that instance, group learning is probably the best way to get everyone up to speed quickly.

Now, if six months after initial training pass, and several employees are still struggling with the software, individual training will help them catch up. That way, they receive the additional training they need, without having to put everyone else through the material again.

4. Ask for employee feedback.

One of the best ways to determine how effective different training experiences are is to get feedback from employees. Their input points out holes in the materials, what information was confusing and even what training was unnecessary. Not to mention that it shows employees that their training is meant to help them grow and succeed, not just help out the organization.

One way to collect feedback on employee training is with a tool like Vohtr. These kiosks, which can be placed anywhere in the office, provide everyone with a physical spot to voice their opinions. Organizations can create their own engaging questionnaires that get to the bottom of how well training programs are going. The feedback system also gives trackable data that reveals trends in the overall effectiveness of employee training.

Related: Online Training For Employees Is Consistent and Will Save You Cash

In sum: It's said that knowledge is power. For employees, the quality of the knowledge they receive is completely dependent on the training they receive. By better understanding individuals' learning differences, offering a variety of training options and gathering feedback, you will create more effective developmental opportunities.

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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