No organization wants to keep an incompetent, untrained employee on its payroll.
That’s an obvious fact. However, the benefits of training are much greater than simply avoiding incompetence; trained employees are more productive, loyal, engaged, and profitable.
Those are nice sounding words, but what about the facts and figures?
Take a look:
Training is directly linked to employee engagement.
A 2013 study published in the World Applied Sciences Journal concluded that “all kinds of training and development activities have a positive impact on employee engagement”.
So, as employees develop professionally and learn new skills they become invested in the company, which improves productivity and profitability.
The Hays Group New Rules of Engagement Report, which studied millions of employees, concludes that “companies scoring highest for engagement achieve 2.5 times the revenue growth of those that rate lowest”.
Training greatly reduces employee turnover.
Training employees signals to them that they are being looked after and have something to personally gain from the job, aside from a salary. In fact, a report from Gallup states that 87% of millennial employees (the largest age group of American workers today) say professional development is very important.
It’s not all about the salary any more — companies need to nurture employees or face a turnover rate that eats into their bottom line…
According to a Go2HR survey, 40% of employees who receive poor training leave within the first year.
That’s not just a coincidence, either. Those very same employees mainly cited a lack of skills training and development as the reason for leaving.
It’s clear that more needs to be done to train employees, and that training positively impacts engagement, turnover, and profitability. But what are you going to do with that information?
In this article, I’m going to outline a number of ways you can improve your employee training process and beat those high rates of churn.
Use a structured employee onboarding process
Every complex task benefits from planning and structure, and the onboarding process is no different. Organizations that have a formal onboarding process experience 50% higher new hire productivity, and 20% higher manager satisfaction.
Onboarding is the period where a new employee transitions into the workforce. This involves getting set up in the company software systems, completing the necessary paperwork, planning out milestones and goals, assigning a project, and more.
It’s a process that needs to be done in a structured way because you need to get everything in order before you can proceed; imagine getting two weeks in and finding that the new hire hasn’t got access to important documents, or doesn’t know how to reset their password when they’re locked out.
As part of the onboarding process, it’s also advisable to include training. No two jobs are identical, so while a new hire may have transferable skills they will still need to know exactly how their team operates.
Some companies assign a mentor for the first week, some have developed training courses for each role, and some train by assigning tasks and checking in on progress regularly. However it’s done, make sure it’s part of your formalized onboarding process.
Create a list of reading material and resources for each team
Whether it’s actionable strategies or transformational theories, employees should be provided with a list of reading material and allocated time they can use to go through it thoroughly.
The list will be different depending on the department, of course, but department heads and team leaders will surely have their own lists of helpful books, research papers and blog articles to share.
Here are some great starting points:
- 76 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs, Creatives & Professionals to Read in 2018
- 34 Business Books You Won’t be Able to Put Down
- 11 Marketing Books Every CMO Should Read
- The 50 Best Marketing Books of All Time
- The 23 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time
- The Best B2B Sales Books to Read in 2017
- The 30 Most Important Books for Product Designers
- The 11 Best Books for Product Managers
- 11 Must-Read Books for Finance Professionals
- 10 Books Every HR Professional Needs to Read
- 100 Best Business Blogs You Need to Read
- The Top 25 Business and Entrepreneurship Blogs of 2017
- The Top 50 Marketing Blogs on the Web
- 55 Insanely Useful Startup Blogs: VCs, Sales, Marketing & Design
- Sales Blogs: The 18 You Should Be Following
- 20 Best Sales Blogs to Raise Your Sales Game
- 10 Best Blogs for Product Design
- Modest Money Top Financial Blogs
- Top 75+ HR Blogs to Follow
You can use Process Street to manage company reading lists by attaching each ebook or link to its respective task name and having the employee check the task off when they’ve done the reading.
You can also manage this list in any cloud service that supports documents, like Google Drive, Dropbox Paper or Slack. At Process Street, we keep a running list in a shared Slack file that we make easily accessible inside our marketing group chat.
Track training with a learning management system
In bygone days, it was necessary for students to learn in groups in classroom environments because there was no technological alternative. The education system has been slow to catch up. Despite the fact that recorded video, learning software, and the internet have been around for decades, most education still takes place in the classroom.
At your workplace, it can be different.
According to a Brandon Hall study, it should be different; eLearning requires 40-60% less time to get the same results, meaning you can cut training costs in half just by changing the way the content is delivered and consumed. The educational and monetary benefits of learning electronically are clear, but what’s the best way?
The most popular way is by using a learning management system, or LMS. Admins of the company LMS can assemble courses for employees and upload resources and assessments. The software can automatically track each employee’s progress through the course, map the training against skill improvement, generate reports, and more.
Learning management is a big industry, and there are a lot of tools to choose from. In this article, eLearningIndustry presents 10 viable options for business purposes.
However, if price and transparency is a factor you should check out Capterra’s list of free and open source learning management systems, which includes Moodle, Dokeos, and ELMSLN.
Create an employee handbook
As we’ve already looked at in an in-depth article, employee handbooks are the home of company policy and, more importantly, procedures. Set procedures improve business consistency, reduce errors, and help employees train up quickly.
At their most basic, procedures look like the example below, snipped from the McDonalds employee handbook.
If you already have a set of documented processes, combine them into one easy-to-use manual to assist with training new employees. You can also use Process Street to organize and assign processes to teams and individuals.
As well as the McDonalds guide, check out Basecamp’s employee handbook for another great example that uses a decidedly different approach. Basecamp’s handbook was authored openly by the employees themselves, not enforced from on high by the managers. In it, the organization outlines its attitudes and policies as well as a few general procedures for security.
The handbook is distributed to Basecamp employees before the start date. An article on the company’s blog makes it clear what a profound effect the handbook makes for new hires:
The handbook is most useful to our newly hired folks and interns before they start at Basecamp. In fact, our newest programmer Rosa said: “I had access to the employee handbook weeks before starting, and I loved that. I read it several times, not only because it was informative, but also because it made me feel super happy and excited about joining.“
Your employee handbook doesn’t have to be a physical book, a PDF file, or plain text. It can be hosted inside Process Street alongside rich media like videos and audio files. In fact, as we’ll see in the next section, studies show that training works better when employees can learn with different kinds of media…
Create visual training resources
When you think of employee training videos, something like Seven Eleven’s or Walmart’s might come to mind. These (cheesy) videos often tackle high-level training like attitude, dress code, and simple customer service interactions. Your videos don’t have to be that way. Video is a clear and engaging way to communicate procedures and give tutorials on tasks.
According to KZO Innovations, 98% of companies that provide digital learning to employees use video.
That might be because humans are far more adept at learning visually than with text.
“A large body of research indicates that visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information. […] Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered.” — Haig Kouyoumdjian Ph.D.
At Process Street, we find the best way to communicate instructions for a task is by using screen-recorded videos. Read the post we wrote about our tools and techniques here. The basic idea is that processes are best created by recording yourself doing the task, and then watching the recording back while noting down each step. At the end, you have a list of tasks complete with a video recording — both written and visual aids.
Create videos for common tasks, draw up diagrams for flow charts or network maps, and help your employees train up in the most friction-free way possible.
You can easily add videos, downloadable files, and images to any task in Process Street:
Always be training: build learning into your team’s work day
Google used to let employees work on any project they chose for 20% of their working time. It spawned products such as Gmail and AdSense — one of which is one of the most used Google products, and the other is one of the highest earning. This freedom to experiment did wonders for innovation, and must have been a real relief for employees who wanted to let off steam on passion projects but didn’t have the time.
You can get the same results with your employee training by allocating more time for the employee to gain knowledge during the work day.
As it stands, employees can apparently only afford to devote 1% of their working time towards learning new things. This totals a whopping 4.8 minutes per day, and doesn’t really foster a deep culture of self-improvement and professional development.
If time is a concern, you can use a tool like Blinkist to give your team access to condensed versions of most popular non-fiction books, most of which are readable in 10-15 minutes but nicely convey the essence of the book’s ideas.
While it isn’t just Google that gives employees flexibility to skill up in their area of interest, it is mostly startups and tech companies. They’re famous for their innovation with products, so perhaps we should look to Silicon Valley for pointers on training, too.
Salesforce, for example, uses Trailhead — their own LMS — to assign and track employee development. Trailhead offers education on the Salesforce ecosystem as well as training on common business functions like sales and marketing. With an add-on, you can also add a Trailhead tracking dashboard to Salesforce:
As we found out in a guest post from Userlike about continuous company learning, companies often designate regular meetups to share knowledge. For Userlike, that’s ‘Userlike Thursday’ — a weekly session where three employees do a talk on the topic of their choosing. It can be anything from online politeness to machine learning. As long as it’s beneficial and of interest to the company, anything goes.
Are you encouraging engagement and loyalty with your employee training processes? Do you offer training past the initial onboarding stage? Let me know in the comments.