The first few types of employee training programs started in “factory school” classrooms of the early 1900s.
Having one instructor teach a class full of workers at a time was an ideal level of efficiency to minimize distractions and maintain the velocity of assembly lines.
Even back then, we’ve been consistently trying to scale knowledge sharing to ensure product quality.
The good news is we’re getting pretty good at it.
Employee training today has evolved into a vast initiative that covers everything from legal requirements to performance standards and workplace ethics — and from classrooms, we’ve turned to computers.
In 2022, 48 percent of learning and development departments expect a budget increase so they can account for better training experiences and engagement.
In this blog, we’ll dive into popular types of training programs, implementations tips and tools you can bring back to your team to make programs more relevant and impactful.
What the modern workforce expects from employee training programs
Companies offer employee training programs to guide teams toward an expected quality of work, communication, and collaboration. Each type of employee training program consists of a learning syllabus that could introduce the basics of a specific topic, describe end-to-end processes or inform employees about mission-critical protocols.
But training is only effective when programs are built and delivered with the employee experience in mind.
Researchers estimate that only 10 percent of the $200 billion spent annually on corporate training actually delivers intended results. A few factors come into play here:
- Length of training programs: In 2021, employees spent between 60 to 80 hours doing training. Employees are less motivated to work toward something if they’re forced to allocate so much of their time to uninteresting or low-quality learning material.
- Relevance to daily responsibilities: It’s a common occurrence for training programs to be built around unrealistic, uncommon or even outdated workplace scenarios and processes.
- Lack of accountability: Check-ins and follow-ups during and after a training program aren’t always included in a company’s training plan. Doing this consistently helps you nudge employees forward while giving you visibility into training progress.
What are the different types of employee training programs?
Now, let’s learn how you can deliver high-quality learning across all your training goals:
1. Management training
Management training programs support employees interested in or who are on track to becoming managers in their organization. It’s also a program that existing managers can benefit from to improve their communication, crisis management and leadership capabilities.
This training program helps employees understand the responsibilities of a manager and how to best execute those responsibilities following your company’s standards and overall mission.
The format of your training program can vary depending on the role's requirements. For example, some managers may need to undergo more technical training while others would benefit solely through collaborative activities or specific skill-building courses.
At the end of your day, structure and deliver your management training to guide future managers toward:
- Assessing team strengths and delegating tasks confidently.
- Communicating with employees in different scenarios (like when team morale is down, during crises, while relaying negative feedback, recognizing great work and more).
- Analyzing business data and making forward-thinking decisions.
- Handling manager-specific tasks onboarding new hires, holding 1:1s, conducting performance reviews and more.
2. Compliance training
Compliance training programs are a must-have for every organization. It teaches employees about policies that may impact the company from a legal, security, financial or ethical standpoint.
Without compliance training, you put your employees at risk.
These courses deliver precise information that employees should know before they find themselves in sensitive situations, like a potentially compromised communication or data system, managing large amounts of money or internal conflict and harassment.
Due to the sensitive nature of this training content, courses may be more formal and information-heavy. However, companies do use digital training portals like BizLibrary or EasyLlama to make courses more targeted, interactive and visually-appealing.
Here are a few types of compliance training topics that companies focus on:
- Company and industry-specific regulations: Gives employees a standard to follow when it comes to conducting business tasks, communicating with coworkers and customers, avoiding disciplinary action and more.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) compliance: A set of guidelines that covers most private sector companies in all 50 states. OSHA ensures that workplaces know how to avoid hazards and that workers know their rights to a safe environment.
- Security compliance: Covers best practices and rules for managing both physical and cybersecurity, like the protection of sensitive customer or patient data, storing private company information and location-based requirements like the California Consumer Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.
- HR compliance: Informs employees about their benefits and legal rights in the workplace, like how to ask about and respond to situations regarding employment laws, compensation, diversity, harassment and more.
3. Onboarding training
Onboarding training provides new hires with the tools and resources to ramp up and familiarize themselves with their new role, responsibilities and work environment. Examples of topics covered in onboarding training include:
- HR policies and compliance
- Technology tools and systems
- Role-specific processes and procedures
- KPIs and guidelines for performance reviews
- Company culture, mission and vision
An onboarding training plan doesn’t just end in an employee’s first few days.
At the software company, Square, training milestones are clearly marked at each phase of onboarding training. In the first 30 days, new hires are brought up to speed with their role-specific responsibilities, the company and product background, and who the most successful customers are.
It also clearly outlines action items for days 60 to 90, including survey check-ins and ongoing feedback and training based on the new hire’s performance and intended goals.
4. Software training
A company’s technology stack plays an important role in ensuring an employee’s day-to-day productivity. A 2021 report found that SaaS companies use between 40 to 60 business applications.
Ownership of these applications is typically led directly by each department instead of being centralized within IT to improve tool adoption and remove siloes.
But IT leaders worry that the decentralization of a company’s technology stack can incur security risks. Software training helps employees understand how to maximize a software’s capabilities while adhering to data privacy and compliance standards.
Keep these tips in mind as you build out your software training program:
- Break down processes into clear step-by-step instructions
- Write in an active voice and avoid using any jargon or complicated language
- Use call-outs and annotations to point out important policies, tooltips and reminders
- Use screenshots and screen recordings to replace long-winded written explanations
Since teams use software often to conduct all sorts of business processes, you want to make training content easy to find and access so employees can refer to them whenever they need to.
Turn your training into interactive tutorials that can be shared and embedded across your team. Here’s an example of training content for the Gong software was built using Scribe!
5. Sales training
Sales teams undergo this training to become better at showcasing a product’s value to prospects. This training program is hyper-focused on helping salespeople present themselves and your company in the best light to potential customer, this can include courses to learn new engagement styles or to gain deep product expertise.
Beyond that, sales training also gives teams the contextual knowledge to make informed decisions and strategize a unique approach for engaging with a potential customer.
Sales training material can include topics like:
- Building trust with potential clients.
- Buyer psychology.
- Social selling.
- Sales management.
You also want to make sure that your training content is easily searchable and accessible in a company database. This is especially important if it’s product-related information that your sales team would want to quickly pull up during customer calls.
6. Product training
Unlike sales training, product training doesn’t focus on how to sell or market the product. Instead, it helps employees get a deep understanding of the product for customer-facing roles like customer support, customer success and solution engineers.
Product training can be combined into the onboarding process (this can be seen in the onboarding plan at Square mentioned previously).
But we’re highlighting product training as its own section because isn’t just something to throw into the onboarding process. It should instead be delivered strategically whenever your product releases a new feature or makes notable changes to its operating system.
Teams should always be up to speed with new updates that are being made before they’re announced to customers.
You can use tools like Scribe to put together product tutorials in a matter of minutes. With Scribe Pages, you also have the added flexibility of customizing each set of tutorials into comprehensive guides tailored toward the needs of each time.
7. Diversity training
Organizations implement diversity training to create a safe and respectful environment for employees of all backgrounds.
Instead of treating diversity training as another program to check off the box, experts believe that companies are responsible for creating active spaces that foster stronger communication and understanding.
A 2022 survey on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy found that 76 percent of companies focus on more than just compliance when it comes to diversity.
Laura Guillén, associate professor at Esade Business and Law School writes for Forbes about two approaches to diversity training:
- Raising awareness and understanding: Focuses on concepts like stereotypes and biases to drive behavioral change
- Experiential training: Centered around social interaction like group activities and conversations with diversity experts
Guillén explains that organizations should create diversity training programs that don’t just emphasize raising awareness. Experiential training should also be included in the mix to give employees a more realistic look at how to show empathy and respond to the perspectives of others.
How to build an employee training program
Whether you’re building a brief process tutorial or a robust learning course, structure your process around these five steps:
Let’s take a look at what each step means.
1. Conduct an analysis of your training audience
Your training aims to motivate employees to learn something new and apply those learnings to their day-to-day work.
If you don’t know what your training audience needs, you can’t create content that’s resonates with what they need to succeed.
You can use survey tools or interview employees to gather more precise data about your training audience, like their:
- Subject matter expertise.
- Learning styles and motivations.
- Affinity with technology tools and systems.
- Preferred language.
- Communication methods.
At the end of your assessment, you should be able to determine the depth of information your training program needs to cover, what KPIs your trainees need to meet, and how your training content can help them achieve those objectives.
2. Compile & organize your learning content
You don’t want to turn your program into a kitchen sink of information covering every little thing about a topic. Target the most relevant areas to the objectives and challenges identified in your audience assessment.
You can use this checklist to walk through your process:
3. Create your training content
With the right tools and automated workflows, creating training content doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Depending on the content you’re delivering to your training audience, you can use different kinds of software to turn your content into engaging training modules for your employees. Here are a few examples of employee training tools you can use:
- Learning management systems: Build responsive training courses for employee education with platforms like Trainual and Skilljar.
- Tutorial-building software: Use tools like Scribe to automatically capture and format screenshots and screen recordings into shareable workflow tutorials.
- Digital adoption platforms: Tools like Whatfix allow you to use in-app self-support content to guide employees through software onboarding and adoption processes.
- Video software: Leverage video creation software like Clipchamp or iSpring to sync video recordings and or narration audio to your training decks.
- Knowledge management platforms: Create an expansive and user-friendly database of learning materials with tools like Slab and HowNow.
4. Distribute your training program
The success of your training program can increase or decrease significantly depending on how you share it with your team.
If your training modules are difficult to access, you’re already setting your program up to fail. Unsatisfactory performance on mandatory training modules can reflect badly on your organization and pile on more administrative work for retraining efforts.
Even if your training is mandatory, it won’t guarantee employee participation and engagement. You may still deal with lower information retention, missed deadlines and unawareness of certain policies.
To streamline your efforts, use employee training software that can help you execute a distribution strategy with the following conditions:
- Content changes can be easily made and published simultaneously across all pieces of content.
- Programs can be shared instantaneously without any heavy software downloads or uploads.
- Training modules can be integrated into existing business apps, workflows and communication channels.
5. Measure your training program’s effectiveness
Most employee training software includes reporting capabilities that show you hard data on participation and engagement levels across your organization.
You can use this data to point out which training programs are less successful than others or which areas of your training program see the highest drop-offs or the lowest scores.
You can also use surveys and informational interviews to gather qualitative feedback and record open-ended responses about content quality.
This is also a great way to identify parts of your training program that may be outdated or incorrect.
Adaptable training programs set teams up for success
Regardless of the type of employee training program you want to build, the (not-so-secret) secret to achieving consistent results is prioritizing adaptability.
Sixty-two percent of L&D professionals say that training and learning efforts aim to help them rebuild and reshape their organizations.
Policies, procedures and expectations will change to reflect an evolving workforce and shifting business goals. We want you to leave this blog with four actions you can take today to ensure a strong yet flexible foundation for your training programs:
- Track: Conduct an audit of all your training program content and their respective goals.
- Condense: Merge repetitive content and prune relevant content.
- Forecast: Identify predicted near-term and short-term changes to any of your programs.
Migrate: Move away from education and documentation systems that require manual formatting, updating, and distribution. You can create a free Scribe account to teach a teammate something new today — now you have a link that lasts forever and can be updated at any time. 🤓