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Training and Development 101: What Is It and How to Make It Work

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Training and development

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The drive to stay competitive motivates companies to invest heavily in their most valuable asset: their people. According to research from Zippia, effective training programs can increase profit margins by up to 24%. This places employee training and development (T&D) at the forefront of corporate strategies.

But what exactly is T&D, and how can companies harness its potential to foster employee growth and success? In this article, we will delve into the essence of T&D, explore its types, and provide actionable insights to make it work effectively in any organization.

What Is Training and Development?

Training and development is the process of providing employees with the knowledge and new skills they need to perform their jobs better and help your company grow.

Training and development initiatives might include developing some soft skills, such as leadership skills.

What is the purpose of the training and development process?

The purpose of the training and development process is twofold: to enhance the skills, knowledge, and abilities of employees and to align their competencies with the strategic goals of the organization. 

Effective training helps individuals perform better in their current roles, while development prepares them for future responsibilities and career growth. Together, these processes contribute to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and a more competitive edge for the organization.

The difference between training and development

Since effective employee growth requires a mix of both training and development, these terms are used together. However, they serve different purposes and are implemented differently. Here’s how they differ:

  • Duration. A training program is usually a short-term reactive process that aims to provide new skills to employees. Development is more about preparing for future roles and responsibilities than immediate tasks.
  • Structure. Employee training programs are usually well structured, with clear objectives. Development refers to less formal programs and can include a variety of activities, from courses and seminars to mentoring, upskilling, and cross-training in different departments. 
  • Focus. Training is skills-oriented, focusing on specific skills required to perform specific tasks. Professional development refers to more people-oriented programs and usually aims to boost broader skills, such as leadership and problem-solving.

Types of Employee Training and Development Programs

Employee training and development programs can be categorized in several ways, depending on their goals, methods, and the needs they address. Here are some common types:

  • Induction, or new hire onboarding, includes educational activities that allow new employees to learn about their job responsibilities, the organization’s culture and values, and basic operating procedures.
  • Compliance training is a formal program that educates employees on laws, industry regulations (such as HIPAA standards for healthcare workers), corporate policies, and actions needed to avoid workplace problems.
  • Leadership training focuses on developing future leaders, skills training, and enhancing the knowledge of those already in leadership roles. 
  • Sales training can include effective communication strategies, understanding sales methodologies, and acquiring skills for prospecting, closing deals, and managing customer relationships. 
  • Product training includes technical knowledge related to a company’s products, their features, values, and use cases, enabling them to effectively communicate this information to customers.
  • Reskilling training helps employees transition into another job role. An organization typically implements such training and development programs when employees’ previous responsibilities or tasks become irrelevant due to technological advancements.

Also read: How to Build a Learning Culture

How to Build an Employee Training and Development Program

Implementing an effective training and development program requires careful planning, implementation, and evaluation. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to develop and train employees effectively:

Employee Training and Development Program

Step 1. Analyze training and development needs

Training needs analysis aims to identify the skills, knowledge, and abilities that employees currently possess and compare them with the skills they need to perform their jobs effectively. Here’s what can help you to discover where employees need improvement: 

Employee surveys and questionnaires

Gauge the perceived needs and preferences of the employees themselves. Use surveys to ask questions about their strengths, weaknesses, preferred types of training, and a desire to develop additional skills. Such surveys will provide insights directly from the workforce, which can be valuable for creating training and employee development programs that are both relevant and engaging.

Employee performance reviews

Use the results of recent employee work performance reviews to identify where their expertise needs to be improved. These assessments offer concrete job performance metrics and qualitative feedback, serving as a targeted guide for formulating training modules that address specific skill gaps. 

Stakeholder reviews

Speak with managers, team leaders, and other stakeholders to get their perspectives on training needs or how employees perform specific tasks. It’s an opportunity to hear from those who have a broader view of team dynamics and organizational challenges, which can help you prioritize and design your training and development programs for employees more effectively.

Business objectives

Align your training needs with the company’s goals. If it aims to launch a new product, focus training on that area. If the current objective is to enhance customer satisfaction, design training that will teach the employees important customer service skills.

Download the Training Needs Analysis Template to learn how to conduct this effectively.

Step 2. Establish clear learning objectives

Use the training needs you identified to determine what you expect from the HR training and development initiative. These objectives serve as a roadmap for both the content and evaluation of your training and development program.

Make sure your training objectives are formulated according to the SMART methodology by being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, if you’re planning a sales training and development program, your goal might be:

“Sales teams will show increased product knowledge, resulting in a 30% growth in sales revenue over the next quarter.”

Step 3. Choose training formats

Based on your training and development objectives, select the appropriate training formats and development methods. To pick the formats that will work best, keep in mind both your audience (learning styles and skill levels) and available resources, such as budget, time, or technologies. Here are some commonly used training formats to consider:

  • Online courses. This is the most common format that companies use, according to iSpring research. eLearning courses can include video lectures, longreads, role-plays, quizzes, and even VR educational activities. The major benefit of such a training format is that courses can be accessed at any time and place, which is particularly useful for remote teams or employees in different time zones. 
  • Webinars. These are effective in delivering information to large groups simultaneously and can be especially useful for brief updates or overviews. However, long-term training and development programs can be challenging to deliver via live webinar sessions.
  • On-the-job training. This format offers the benefit of immediate, hands-on experience. This is particularly useful for roles requiring the practical application of newly acquired skills. Employees can learn by doing, which often leads to better knowledge retention.
  • Classroom training. Characterized by real-time communication with instructors and peers, this format is particularly useful for complex topics that require expert instruction, immediate feedback, and the opportunity for discussion.
  • Blended learning. This approach combines in-person instructor-led training sessions with online learning activities. Companies opt for a blended format to cater to different learning styles and ensure better knowledge retention.

Step 4. Select the right tools and resources

Depending on the methods you have chosen, figure out what tools and resources you’ll need to develop the training and development program and run it smoothly. For example, you might need a good video calling platform for organizing synchronous peer learning in remote teams or a well-equipped training room with audio-visual aids for organizing in-person classes.

If you opt for the eLearning format, you’ll first need to develop training materials. For this purpose, companies often use a content authoring tool. This is digital software that allows you to create online training materials and convert them into an eLearning format for distribution to learners.

Some of them, like iSpring Suite, don’t require much time to master and yet allow you to create various types of eLearning materials, such as video lectures, slide courses, engaging role-play simulations, and cheat-proof knowledge assessments. Here is an example of an induction course for employees that you can create, even if you have no tech or design skills:

Welcome to the team - onboarding course

Explore more examples of courses →

When the materials are ready, the most effective way to deliver them to employees is through a learning management system (LMS). In an LMS, you can conveniently organize all your training and development programs and assign them to employees.

Training program in iSpring Learn

Employees learn at their convenience without being tied to specific training hours or instructor schedules. 

Some LMSs, like iSpring Learn, can also streamline the entire training and development process significantly by automatically assigning programs to all employees, departments, or particular groups, notifying them about due dates and upcoming events, and generating detailed reports about trainee progress.

Also read:

Successful LMS Implementation: How to Launch Online Training and Not Get Fired

Mentorship Program: All You Should to Know in 2023 [Expert Insights]

Step 5. Pilot the program

Before launching the full program, run a pilot version with a small group to identify gaps and areas for improvement. Collect feedback from trainers and participants on the curriculum, platform usability, and effectiveness in meeting learning objectives. Use this feedback to refine the program before full-scale implementation.

Step 6. Evaluate the training’s effectiveness

Measure your training and development efforts to ensure you achieve the intended training objectives and learn how to improve your current and subsequent development training. HR managers and L&D professionals usually pay attention to completion rates, pass or fail rates, and post-training performance. If human resources managers use an LMS, they’ll take lots of data-driven insights from its reports. Here’s what one looks like in iSpring Learn:

Evaluating training performance with detailed reports

FAQ on Training and Development

Here are some extra details about training and development that you might find informative.

1. How often do I need to update employee training and development programs?

Training professionals and human resource management should review their programs yearly to ensure they’re up to date, tailored to specific job roles, and reflect the needs of the company and its employees. Also consider updating T&D programs when:

  • Your company’s needs, goals, or organizational culture have recently changed.
  • Current development programs are no longer adequate for the company’s size and structure.
  • There are regulatory changes in your niche.
  • Many employees share that the current training doesn’t prepare them to support business goals sufficiently.

2. Should a training program be mandatory for all employees?

It depends on the nature of the program. Compliance and safety training are often legally required and thus should be mandatory. Technical training (common for IT companies) is conducted regularly due to digital product updates. 

For other types of training and development opportunities on topics like leadership, emotional intelligence, or some general development activities that can increase job satisfaction and reduce employee turnover, making them mandatory may not always be the best approach because voluntary participation often leads to higher employee engagement and better outcomes. Consider the objectives and needs of your organization when making this decision.

To Sum Up

Investing in your employees not only improves their hard skills and soft skills, thereby reducing employee motivation, but it also enhances employees’ work performance and contributes to the achievement of long-term business goals. We hope these tips and step-by-step instructions will help you make the most of your training and development initiatives and groom a team of motivated and skilled workers.

To start creating high-impact training content, download iSpring Suite and test drive its capabilities for free for 14 days. 

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