Training and professional development is one area of business that needs a refresh, and the new year is a great chance to make a change.
From employees in the trenches to executives in the boardroom, employee training is vital to success in every aspect of the business, but for many companies, the old ways are obsolete.
This is the perfect time to introduce new employee training goals and objectives, along with next-gen technologies that support employees’ growth and education.
Here’s a list of 12 employee training tips you should consider as we move into 2022.
1. Take Lessons from 2021
Right off the bat, we all need to reflect on the past year in terms of all things HR. It was messy, no doubt, but there are lessons to be learned that will prove invaluable before long.
“We learned we are terrible at onboarding staff remotely,” said David King, CEO of Optima Tax Relief. “We are not good at it. We did our best, but from the employee’s perspective, it was not what it needed to be. When things were safer, we set up a 30-day on-site training program. We took some risk but we spread it out and it worked. We combined the fragmented employee training platforms into one. It’s been very effective for us. From security to IT to HR. It aligns us as a company and has an ancillary benefit to the new hires. They stay together and that’s helped with retention and the overall employee experience.”
2. Create Networks of Support
Team leaders and supervisors already have so much on their plate. Creating support networks among established employees and new trainees is a great way to delegate while adding some extra structure to the process.
“Lots of companies already have a system that pairs up newcomers with more tenured employees, and this is just the natural evolution of that idea,” said Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer at Foster Grant. “We are encouraging everyone to pitch in and help train new people more organically. It turns into a team project that ends up teaching us all new things.”
3. Track Industry Trends
Training best practices are going to vary from one industry to the next, so it’s wise to keep up on these trends as they develop. Inspiration can come from anywhere, even competitors.
“If you hear of a new employee training class or a certification that sounds relevant to your sector, you can’t afford to wait and weigh your options,” said Rachel Jones, Head of PR at Hope Health. “When it comes to training and preparation, it’s often about being ahead of the curve. These programs are a part of the competitive analysis just like all other business segments.”
4. Incentivize Self-Education
The wealth of free resources on the web can’t be ignored, and smart HR departments will tap into this phenomenon. Employees with an incentive to self-educate will always have an edge.
“There’s only so much you can do as a business to facilitate training, so it’s often smarter to encourage self-education among the people who want to get ahead,” said Andrew Ferenci, CEO and Founder of Comrad Socks. “It feels a healthy sense of competition in the workplace and employees will discover new ideas and unlock talents that help them problem-solve and collaborate. Even employee training who aren’t ‘in training’ always have something to learn, as do supervisors and managers.”
5. Encourage Team Building
A well-trained team means nothing unless there is a strong foundation of trust and communication among employees. This needs to be emphasized strongly moving into 2022.
“Effective employee training is way more than just poring through docs and doing online coursework,” said Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos Agency. “Unless you’re also improving the team dynamic and improving workflows, a lot of that training will go unfulfilled. Make sure everyone is trained on the technical side of things, but also in best practices for collaboration and team-based efficiency. This means getting more involved as a manager and recognizing when something needs to change in real-time. Waiting for issues to self-solve is no longer an option.”
6. Use a Range of Formats
Gone are the days of endless documents and dry text-based employee training. Companies now have access to a huge variety of formats for employee training, education and must take advantage of them all.
“You can only get so much value from a training resource that is strictly text or only video,” said Dr. Robert Applebaum, Owner of Applebaum MD. “The most effective training plans include a bit of everything and keep it highly interactive. They offer instant feedback and guide employees on the right track to learn much faster. It makes the old training materials look ancient by comparison, so explore your options and see what’s out there.”
7. Calculate Training ROI
There’s no clear-cut equation to determine ROI from training programs, but in 2022, execs are getting more serious about these calculations. Even a rough estimation is better than nothing.
“We’ve realized that a lot of training initiatives just don’t give us the returns we want, so we’ve cracked down on efficiency and made sure every program pays off,” said Ben Teicher, President, and CEO of Healthy Directions. “Time is also a factor we’re taking more seriously. We want to see the impact of a training module sooner than later. To justify spending on employee training, the return needs to be immediate and have a noticeable, positive result.”
8. Rethink Training Manuals
Employee manuals may not be fun to write out and assemble, but they are worth the effort. 2022 could be a good opportunity to go back and make some much-needed revisions after all the changes of the past few years.
“To ensure employees are trained effectively, solid and streamlined procedures must be in place,” said Scott Dolan, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Excelsior College. “In traditional for-profit companies, employee manuals are used to onboard employees and direct newcomers on completing common tasks effectively. In nonprofits, a manual also acts to ensure alignment with the mission of the organization. This is your organization’s first formal opportunity to make clear the way a new hire’s role is supportive to the organization at large, and there is no better way to do so than by writing about the exciting goals and actions of your organization.”
9. Limit Wasted Resources
Nothing is worse than waste for the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, many training assets just aren’t worth the cost of admission, and they’ve got to go before 2022 arrives.
“The employee training resources we have today are such a huge step up from just one decade ago, and we realize how much time was being squandered,” said John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner at Berry Law. “Now, employees can dive right into new programming languages, master sales, and marketing, or improve their design skills in such a short time frame. There’s no longer any reason to require those bland, one-dimensional training programs with all that extra fluff you don’t need. Don’t hesitate to ax the stuff that no longer serves you and your team.”
10. Keep Culture in Mind
With so much talk about company culture, you’d think that more businesses would emphasize a pleasant and productive work environment. There’s still a lot of work to be done on this front.
“Training is the first exposure to the company culture for new employees, so if there’s something wrong with employee training, it’s a bad omen for things to come,” said Michael Hennessy, Founder, and CEO of Diathrive. “Culture starts with training from square one, so it should be treated as an essential segment of the business.”
11. Focus on Feedback
Employees have a lot to say about the goings-on at their companies, even if they seem quiet most of the time. Ask them more about their experience during employee training and see if they offer feedback.
“The most valuable input about your company’s training process will come from the people who went through it themselves,” said Matt Miller, Founder, and CEO of Embroker. “Ask for the highlights and lowlights of the experience. Pinpoint the sections of the employee training that fell short and focus on improving them first. As more feedback comes in, the more clearly you can see the big picture and make sweeping overhauls and improvements.”
12. Promote Long-Term Development
Training must be done with a purpose, and employees are often thinking about taking their careers to the next level. This is the perfect chance to talk about long-term plans.
“It’s increasingly common for companies to offer employee training for employees who express interest in a certain path up the ladder within the organization,” said Remon Aziz, Chief Operating Officer of Advantage Rent A Car. “If trust is established and both parties reach an agreement, this is a situation where everyone wins.”
Employee training may not get the same attention as product and marketing, but it will always be a key factor to business success in any field. Apply these 12 tips so that your business enters the new year with an unstoppable training game plan.