Is Your Employee Training Program Up To Snuff?

Training makes better, happier employees.

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By Jonathan Herrick Originally published

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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. Prospective new hires are either a fit or they aren't. Skills, however, are something that can be sharpened over time. And if you want innovative, talented people who will add to your strong company culture, you need to stop worrying about whether or not they possess every single skillset. If you hire the right people, they'll be eager to learn and prove themselves.

It's a great approach, but it comes with some baggage — training. Your training needs to be exceptional. After all, if you're willing to overlook the fact that your new hire might be a bit more green, but a fit culturally, then you have to also be willing to give that new hire the tools needed to succeed. And training doesn't come with a low price tag. In fact, the average cost-per-hire is almost $4,000.

Now, if you hire carefully, this is more of an investment than a cost. Putting time and effort into developing an effective onboarding program ensures your new hires know how to do their job well and perform better once they're acclimated. Here are some practices to add to your employee onboarding program that will result in a well-trained new hire.

Related: How Investing In Employee Training Benefits Your Business

Set clear learning outcomes

Don't implement a training program just to go through the motions. It's 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 training program you assemble will largely depend on two factors:

  1. The state of the company: Are you in a period of change? Expansion? Are you looking for short-term roles with expected high turnover, or do you want to hire talent that will stick with the company in the long-term?

  2. The specific roles: What are the new hire's responsibilities? Who will they report to? This determines what they will and won't be doing, what they need to know, what they don't need to know, and what will be helpful for them to know.

Regularly review and adapt the curriculum

How well do new hires integrate into the company? Is there a high employee turnover rate mere weeks into a new hire's employment? Do supervisors and managers feel like their new employees are prepared to work when they're done 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 find precisely where the pain points are. Look for online resources or design training materials of your own. Tweak or, if necessary, completely overhaul the training process. Determine where the gaps in your hiring process are so you can easily refine it.

Related: Will Training Help Improve Employee Performance?

Ask existing employees where they'd like additional training

Training isn't a one-time thing. It should be an ongoing process that is part of every employee's overall professional development. It keeps employees engaged, motivated, and loyal. Provide pathways for advancement and consult with them to see where they'd like additional training.

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. Treat training as one of your company's employee incentives, and your team will be sure to 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 ludicrous. They need an 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, they shadow an experienced server for a few shifts and help serve the tables. They actually perform the job, but they have someone right beside them to make sure they don't royally screw up. There has to be an opportunity to put theory into practice.

Related: 4 Big Benefits of Improved Employee Training

On a related note, make it clear why specific rules are in place. If a procedure is time-consuming or cumbersome, you're going to have people who cut corners. Explaining why certain processes are the way they are through examples or case studies treats employees as intelligent, respected members of the team.

A great training program requires an upfront investment in terms of time and money, but it's a worthy investment, indeed, if it saves you hours of revamping and re-hiring (and firing). Proper training sets the foundation for strong employees, high company morale, and effective professional development down the line.

Jonathan Herrick

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

CEO of Benchmark

Jonathan Herrick is CEO and chief high-fiver at Benchmark Email, BenchmarkONE and Contacts+, bringing together 150 employees serving over 25,000 customers and 1 million users in 15 countries and nine languages worldwide.

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