19 Employee Training Programs & How to Develop Them

19 Employee Training Programs & How to Develop Them

The workplace is always evolving and adapting to new situations and best practices. Employee training programs must keep up to ensure that workers can deliver a class-leading customer experience, product, and service.

To help keep your organisation’s professional development up to date we’re taking a deep dive into the different types of training programs, how to measure their success, as well as future trends to stay ahead of.

Importance of Employee Training Programs

Employee training programs improve effectiveness and overall performance. This has a knock-on effect on employee confidence and can boost happiness. This, in turn, can make employees up to 13% more productive at work.

More benefits that illustrate the importance of employee training programs include:

  • Avoid Headcount Bloat: Having a core team of efficient, highly skilled employees can prevent over-hiring for skills.
  • Improved Performance: Better skills will have a direct impact on business performance and can raise the bar for production or service delivery.
  • Less Employee Turnover: Upskilling employees helps improve employee retention rates and keeps skills onboard.
  • Stay Up-To-Date: Keep your employees aligned with evolving best practices and new emerging technologies.
  • Better Customer Service: Offer customers an experience they’ll remember with involved, dedicated employees who are skilled and care about their jobs.
  • Better Reputation: As a whole, effective employee training programs will improve your reputation through reviews and word-of-mouth among both future customers and prospective employees.

19 Types of Employee Training Programs

A lady attends an employee training program is attended on a mobile device

1. Onboarding/New Hire Training

Starting a new job can be stressful, for both the employee and the manager. That’s why an employee training program specifically for onboarding can be of great help. Not only can it greatly reduce the time it takes for new hires to be effective at work, but it also helps new hires settle in and feel comfortable.

A good onboarding training program should include:

  • Technology Training: Almost every business will make use of a slightly different tech stack. To ensure new hires can be effective fast, include specific training on the software and tools they’ll use in the course of work.
  • Company Values: This may sound like a no-brainer, but familiarisation with the company culture and values is absolutely necessary in any efficient onboarding plan.
  • Documentation: Signing off on company policies should be given allocated time within the onboarding journey, to ensure employees actually read through and agree with any terms of their employment.
  • Site-Specific Training: Whether employees are on-site or in the office, ensure that they are booked and are aware of training surrounding safety induction, dress code, lunch times, and anything else that’s relevant to a specific site.

2. Technical Training

Technical training programs allow your specialist staff to be more effective in their jobs. This type of training program will upskill employees in specific areas through various means, such as industrial skill courses.

For example, you may introduce new equipment on site, and will have to train your technicians on maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing this equipment. A specialist course may be offered either by the manufacturer or via an external course. You can also create internal on-the-job training programs on equipment by utilising the knowledge of experienced employees.

This type of training will typically include:

  • Specific Outcome: You’ll have a clear learning objective in mind, and upon completion of the course employees will be able to showcase the specific skill required.
  • Assessment: An exam or assessment will likely form a part of this type of training program. To be declared competent, the employee must reach the agreed-upon level of competency through a practical examination of skills.
  • Specialist Knowledge: Successful implementation of a technical training program will rely on advanced knowledge, either through an educated instructor or an experienced in-house employee.
  • Accreditation: Technical training will often conclude with an accredited certificate. In the case of internal training, accreditation may not be necessary but some form of proof of training should be kept.

3. Product Training

Product training refers to the product or service your company produces (or offers). This will differ between departments. For example, sales and marketing personnel will need a far better understanding of the product than site support staff such as admin personnel.

This brings in a fair amount of variability to what product training actually looks like. That said, typical product training will include the following:

  • Basic Functionality: This helps to build a fundamental understanding of what your company offers to the market. All employees ideally should attend at least this level of training.
  • Advanced Functionality: Specifically for those who will either be using or selling the offering, this training will help bring critical staff up to speed.
  • Market Positioning: Sales and marketing staff will be more effective if they understand what your solution offers and how best to position it in the market.

4. Soft Skills Development

Soft skills employee training program is presented by an experienced trainer.

The term ‘soft skills’ can be deceptive, as skills in this category can have a huge impact on your business. Communication skills, teamwork, creativity, and a positive attitude can form the backbone of a successful business.

This is why we like to refer to them as power skills instead. A typical training program will include:

  • Skills Audit: A skills audit can help to determine which soft skills are already present in your business, and which skills need work.
  • Structured Training Plans: Creating learning paths that contain the specific skills and courses your organisation needs can help to provide direction and ensure a successful training initiative.
  • Self-Driven Learning: Give employees the ability to pick out and complete pre-approved micro courses that help to raise the overall soft skill profile of your business.

5. Compliance Training

Compliance training is a critical part of most industries, especially strictly regulated industries. It involves training employees in specific regulated areas – such as safety – and maintaining proof of that training for legal and insurance purposes.

A sound training program of this type will include:

  • Compliance Record System: Whether you opt for a cutting-edge digital system or a good old filing cabinet, you’ll have to implement some form of capturing and keeping proof to ensure compliance.
  • Accreditation: Depending on your business, you may need to obtain specific external accreditation in order to stay compliant with industry regulations. This is especially crucial within workplace health and safety.

6. Sales Training

Sales training is straightforward. It’s a training program that will allow your sales staff and some on-site staff to be more efficient within the role of sales. This will entail a variety of sales team courses from different sources.

Sales training typically involves:

  • Structured Development Programs: Sales requires specific training such as negotiation tactics, empathy, closing strategies, and more. The best way to ensure an efficient sales force is to create structured training plans that provide comprehensive skill coverage.
  • Shadow Initiatives: When hiring new salespeople, it can be valuable for them to shadow more experienced employees for effective on-the-job training. Set out clear milestones for these initiatives.

7. Customer Service Training

Customer service training is not just for support staff. It can benefit any customer-facing employee, from marketers who conduct interviews to site workers who interact with customer employees. Most employees can benefit from customer service courses by equipping them with the necessary skills to treat customers right.

This type of training typically includes:

  • Soft Skills Training: Being able to listen, empathise with customer needs, and effectively communicate are all critical skills for customer service employees. Hence, structured employee development programs are necessary for those who deal with customers.
  • Monitored On-The-Job Training: It’s common for customer service calls to be recorded to listen to and learn from past conversations. This is an invaluable learning tool and should be prioritised in most industries.

8. Leadership Training

Effective leaders aren’t simply naturally talented individuals who have a knack for leadership. They’re active learners who are always learning more effective leading techniques in order to drive business success.

Typical leadership training includes:

  • Seminars & Courses: There are countless leadership development training programs on the market. To be effective, leaders should attend such programs regularly to learn new tactics and best practices.
  • Mentorship: Seasoned leaders should take juniors under their wing to teach them the skills and tactics that can only be won through hard work and experience.
  • Microlearning: Leadership is a skill that can be added to easily with microlearning, by regularly attending leadership courses that last less than an hour on a weekly or monthly basis.

9. Diversity and Inclusion Training

To help everyone at the workplace feel safe, comfortable, and included, attending a diversity and inclusion course can be a great idea. Being able to understand and get along with individuals from a host of different backgrounds and cultures is an invaluable set of skills that transcends the workplace and can have a positive impact on the personal lives of employees as well.

While this can be a sensitive topic, this type of employee training program can do good if handled properly. This can be achieved by including:

  • Unbiased Training: Inclusion training falls flat if it purposely excludes any representative of society. Hence, carefully selected, balanced, and unbiased training should be implemented for the best results.
  • Company-Provided Training: A self-developed internal training program can be more specific about your company’s exact diversity profile, and can be a valuable asset in onboarding new employees.

10. Health and Safety Training

Safety employee training programs knowledge being applied in a site injury

Health and safety training programs are critical to any modern workplace, from the industrial site to the office to the retail store. Employee well-being takes centre stage here, all while helping to avoid costly lawsuits against employers.

Your training program should include:

  • Regulation Best Practices: Whether you’re regulated by OSHA, OH&S, or MSHA, ensure that your workplace health and safety courses adhere to the requirements of local regulatory bodies.
  • Certified Instructor-Led Training: Unless you have an accredited in-house trainer, it’s necessary to seek out specialised knowledge from a reputable training organisation or instructor.

11. Quality Assurance Training

Quality Assurance (QA) training is not limited to QA employees alone. Site technicians, stock controllers, and even food and beverage employees can all benefit from QA training.

  • QA training programs should adhere to local regulations, but beyond that you can create training that adheres to internal quality assurance standards, which could be higher than the norm.

12. Project Management Training

Effective project managers must have the right skills, but all employees should be able to manage their projects effectively on a personal level. Consider both specialised and basic project management courses to add to your training programs.

Project management (PM) training can include:

  • Industry Best Practices: Beyond normal PM best practices, you may have industry-specific best practices that must also be adhered to to ensure smooth-running projects.
  • Specialised Development Program: Project managers have a demanding job, and specialised programs focused on long-term success can help you get the most out of your project leaders.

13. Cross-Training

Cross-training can be an effective means of keeping your business running during the off-season when staff is limited or during some kind of disaster. This entails teaching staff from different departments how to do each other’s jobs.

Cross-training should contain:

  • Logical Structure: An office intern will require years of training to do an electrician’s job. This is an extreme example, but logic must apply. Pair employees in fairly similar roles in order to get the best results from cross-training.
  • Regular Workshops: Consider implementing weekly or monthly workshops where employees can focus on sharing these skills and ensuring that employees stay sharp in tasks outside of their specialisation.

14. Cybersecurity Training

Cybersecurity has become an unavoidable part of modern business. Employees untrained in cybersecurity may pose a significant risk to business, so it’s vital to have clear guidelines and training in place.

Effective training in this area will include:

  • Ongoing Assessment: New risks emerge every day, and so cybersecurity awareness assessments should be subject to continuous assessment to ensure employees stay sharp and that additional training is dispatched in a timely manner.
  • Specialist Development Programs: Your cybersecurity staff will need regular training to keep up to date with the latest threats and how to safeguard your company against them.

15. Language and Communication Training

Language employee training program notes on a whiteboard

There are few generic skills more valuable than effective communication. Knowing how to communicate in different situations and across various departments can help to keep a business running smoothly.

Communication training should include:

  • Basic Learning: It’s a good idea to include basic communication training in your onboarding process. This can help to ensure that all employees have a basic level of competency, a good communication course shouldn’t take more than an hour.
  • Employee-Specific Training: Some employees, such as sales and customer support staff, should aim for a higher level of competency. Specialised development programs can help raise the bar.

16. Creativity and Innovation Training

Arguably, building creativity and innovation skills comes down to simple practice. However, project-based learning or other forms of practical training can help to strengthen these skills.

Typically, this kind of training will include:

  • Microlearning: Courses will typically be small and focused within this niche, so short courses can be embraced to hone these skills.
  • Project-Based Learning: Experienced staff can oversee juniors within projects, to help transfer specific techniques and skills required within your organisation.

17. Ethics Training

Ethics training helps to etch out clear lines between right and wrong within the context of your workplace. Should staff declare gifts from suppliers? What constitutes a work break and how should these be tracked? These and more questions can be answered clearly within company-created training.

Typical ethics training will contain:

  • Explanation of Company Values: To ensure that everyone has the correct concept of your company values, it’s wise to add them to your ethics training modules.
  • Cover Grey Areas: Ensure there are no grey areas for staff by providing clear guidelines in company interactions, relationships with suppliers and customers, and inter-company relations.

18. Environmental Training

Environmental training can be beneficial to the environment, but it can also aid businesses in cost-saving initiatives. Reducing the amount of unnecessary resources your company uses also means purchasing less of those resources.

Environmental training may include:

  • Waste Reduction: Teach your employees how to reduce waste both in the workplace and at home, doing your part for the environment.
  • Local Ecology: Consider adding ‘bonus’ training in educating employees about your local ecosystem and how our actions may have a negative impact.

19. Career Development and Upskilling Training

This type of employee training program focuses on holistically growing your workers in order to boost their job effectiveness and their overall happiness at the same time. It should form an ongoing part of your training strategy.

This will include:

  • Ongoing Audits: Conduct annual or bi-annual skills audits to identify the most necessary skills to keep your business moving forward.
  • Personal Development Programs: Set up individual employee development plans, including skills identified in the audits as well as personal aspirations on skills.

How to Develop Effective Training Programs

Managers create employee training programs on a laptop

1. Identify Training Needs

The first part of any employee training program is identifying the skills and training your employees need the most. You should conduct a training needs analysis to construct a comprehensive view of the current and desired skills within the workplace. You can also use resources like a skills matrix and a training matrix to keep track of your employees’ progress.

Tip: Competency matrices and capability matrices are slightly different to skills matrices but can also prove to be valuable assets when developing effective employee training programs.

2. Set Clear Objectives

After understanding your training needs, set clear and actionable objectives for employees. Training objectives should follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) methodology for maximum impact:

  • Specific: What specific skill or course must be actioned in order to achieve the desired result?
  • Measurable: What type of assessment or evidence is required to successfully complete the objective?
  • Achievable: Is the objective realistic? Can the identified individuals or departments fill the skills gaps without unreasonable effort?
  • Relevant: Will the objectives have a positive effect on a specific business goal?
  • Time-Bound: Set a realistic due date for each objective.

Employee training objectives should be created with your business goals in mind. If successful objectives don’t benefit the busine