The Secret of Training New Employees for Long Term Success
These days, employee training is about more than teaching someone how to perform a specific task.
In the third part of our new employee checklist, we go over the details that are the secret to a great training program.
Why is training so important?
Training and career development are among the top factors millennials use to rank the attractiveness of a job or company as a place to work. And 46 percent of employees say their company’s training courses make them more likely to stay.
How you train new employees will have long term impact on productivity, retention and company culture.
As part of our checklist, we’ve got tips and resources to help you provide the very best in new employee training so that you can take full advantage of all it has to offer you and the new hire, and avoid the pitfalls that make training a chore.
3 Employee Training Trends To Adapt To Your Business
Employee training is in a state of flux - there are many new methods being tried, new ways of delivering training to employees, and motivations beyond skills acquisition.
We live in an era in which technology moves so fast that continuous training must be part of the job to keep up.
On top of that:
Technology enables everyone to learn on the go. Tiny screens everywhere can now become powerful training devices. Meanwhile, employees bounce so frequently from job to job, and technology changes so fast, that we’re always training new hires.
1. On-Demand Training: Employees want to be able to learn anywhere, especially when they’re mobile, and businesses need to adapt to offer relevant training specific to their needs. The e-learning industry is growing rapidly but the market is flooded with sub-par training providers.
Creating your own on-demand training. You can create a rich learning experience that includes slides, docs and videos all using Google drive. Most of the equipment you already have. At the very least you should create a self-paced e-learning library for your job orientation.
At Betterteam, we use Slack, Basecamp, YouTube and Google Drive to house our training materials.
2. Social Media as a Training Resource: This one is twofold. You want to train new employees about your social media policies from the get go. But you should also leverage social media to train employees on platforms they are active on.
A YouTube training channel is one example - you can create short training videos and upload them for staff to watch. But you can also create a simple FaceBook group specifically for training and Q&A. Why? Everyone is on Facebook.
Rather than forcing people to change their behavior, work with it. Facebook groups can be set to private and can work great as long as a resource for interacting with new employees. In fact, Facebook uses groups to train their own employees.
Another nice thing:
You don’t have to be a huge company to use social media as a training resource. It's free. If your new employees are millennials, consider using new social media platforms like Periscope to connect.
3. Gamification: This has become a popular buzzword in recent years, because it works. It’s just a fancy word for turning anything into a game. People are motivated by points and a sense of accomplishment. It can be easy to add a gaming aspect to your training. Try adding a progress bar to training, or giving points, badges and rewards for performing highly on quizzes.
Get Strategic with Your Training for Long Term Gains
Are your employees worth more than a cup of coffee?
Of course they are!
But the sad fact is, most companies spend more money on coffee than training. If the goal is to have a high performing work force, we need to spend the resources to develop employees. Aligning resources to goals is strategy.
Do we still think coffee is important?
Of course. But at a company, training should come before coffee, at least for the purposes of budgeting. You'll still want to continue to drink the coffee before you start training.
Now, if you allocate more resources to training, you can be sure someone will want to see measurable benefits - as they should. As business legend Peter Drucker said, "what gets measured gets managed."
So, set goals, and create a simple measurement process for your training so you can see the results.
One number you can use to measure effectiveness is employee turnover. Better training should reduce turnover. Look at your historical rate of voluntary turnover, and see if improved training helps decrease it. You can also use this report to see how you stack up on employee turnover versus your industry.
To measure if employees are really absorbing new training, you can have them turn around and train other employees on what they've learned.
This leads us to another way of getting strategic with training: cross training.
Besides being a way to measure what an employee has learned, cross training allows for career growth and development - satisfying your employees’ desire to learn new skills, while allowing you to increase office coverage. So, if one employee is out, there’s always someone who understands their job.
As your company puts more strategic focus on training and spending surpasses coffee levels, it may become the type of company that puts employees first.
Wait. Does that sound wrong? Aren't customers supposed to come first?
Turns out companies that use the strategy of putting employees first gain enormous competitive advantages, and end up with happier customers as a result. The key to an employee first company? Training and developing your workforce.
Still skeptical of this approach? Hear what Richard Branson, one of its biggest proponents, has to say:
For companies that put employees first, including Richard Branson's, good training strategy essentially becomes good business strategy. Whether you decide to focus your priorities on employees or not, it should be clear that better training makes better companies, and happier customers.
4 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Step Up Your Training Game
Should you sweat the small stuff when it comes to hiring?
Google did some impressive analytical research - as only this company would do.
They found something pretty amazing:
Sending a simple alert to managers on the day they’re doing new hire training gets new employees productive 25 percent faster.
Think about that.
Sending an email or text message costs $0. And the message Google sends is dead simple - it’s just a list of 5 things that any hiring manager in any company could use:
- Have a role and responsibilities discussion.
- Match your new hire with a peer buddy.
- Help your new hire build a social network.
- Set up onboarding check-ins once a month for your new hire’s first six months.
- Encourage open dialogue.
Looking for some more quick wins with training? Here are 4 simple things you can do to start improving your training now.
1. Target your training. Don't make your engineers sit through the same training as your sales team. Target your training as finely as you can, so that you can relate it directly to how it helps individuals perform in their jobs.
2. Make it real. After the training, give employees a task that actually requires them to use the what they've just learned. It will help them cement the learning, and will show you exactly where they still need work.
3. Set the right mood. Training doesn't have to be a drag. Take breaks, and build in time to socialize. Don't let training become synonymous with boredom at your company.
4. Break it up. Don't train now for something an employee will need in 2 months. Segment employee training, and try to plan it so that they'll be using it as much as possible after the training is over. They'll retain more, and you'll waste less time having to retrain overloaded employees.
How to Make Your Training Terrible, or, What Not To Do
Clearly training done right can have great benefits.
“Well-trained employees are happy, engaged, productive--and they will eat, sleep, and breathe your company if you ask them to,” notes Ilya Pozin at Inc.com.
The problem is that it’s often done wrong.
According to a survey by McKinsey & Co., only 25 percent of respondents found that training improved employee performance. Yikes!
How can you avoid similarly abysmal returns on your training investment?
We hope that our tips on what to do have helped so far, but you’ll also want to avoid doing these things:
- Providing ambiguous training. Ever sat in a training session and wondered, why am I here? Training that has no connection to day-to-day tasks will fall flat. Show employees exactly how it pertains to their job and the company's mission.
- Making them afraid to fail. Instead of training employees and expecting them to execute perfectly, give them a chance to fail. Let them use what they've learned without fear of repercussions if they make a few mistakes.
- Not providing feedback. This is especially important for millennials. Employees want to know if they're doing a good job, and where they can improve. Don't leave them in the dark on their performance.
- Assuming your employees don't want training. Oftentimes, employees don't ask for training, but it has nothing to do with their desire to learn. They may be unsure how to ask, afraid of rejection, or under the impression that it will make them look incapable. Most employees want opportunities for professional development, and will be glad if you offer it.
4 Tips Better Training Presentations
Ok, it’s great to have an excellent training program in place that’s strategic, takes advantage of modern trends and technology, and avoids being terrible.
But what good is all that if people are still sleeping through your training sessions? Here are 4 quick tips you can use to make your training sessions more enjoyable.
1. Prepare yourself. It's obvious you need to prepare something to present, but you also can prepare your body and mind by getting a good night's sleep for mental sharpness, taking a brisk walk to promote relaxation and eating a little dark chocolate to energize you.
2. Break the ice. Get yourself and the trainees more comfortable with a fun icebreaker. Two truths and a lie is a fun icebreaker game you can try with smaller groups. With "show of hands" questions, like "how many of you love training?"
3. Add visuals. People process images 60,000 times than words, so take advantage of this to create training materials that get your message across faster, with photos and video that are relevant to what you are teaching.
4. Get rehearsals right. If you're giving a presentation, you're probably already planning to rehearse it a few times. But are you rehearsing it right? Don't just read your notes to yourself over and over - try to make rehearsal as close to the real thing as possible. For example, if you plan on standing in front of a whiteboard to deliver it, practice that way.
Below, there’s some great information about setting the stage, reading your audience, and making it fun. Geoffrey James gives some interesting advice about the difference between teaching skills employees can learn, as opposed to to teaching personality traits they can’t.
Ready, Set, Train Those New Hires!
We hope this guide helped you learn more about creating awesome training for your new employees, and for your the rest of your organization as well.
- Test new trends in training such as on-demand, social media and gamification to see if they work for your company.
- Review your overall training strategy - be sure your goals and resources are aligned.
- Make training hands-on, interesting and divide it into digestible chunks.
- Don't make employees afraid to fail or let training purposes be ambiguous.
- Do give the feedback and assume they want to learn.
- Presenting? Get prepared, do ice breakers, add visuals to your presentation, an rehearse it the way you'll deliver it.