A Comprehensive Guide on Crafting an Employee Training Plan
If you’re a business owner, you probably understand that commercial success is all about balancing the need to boost the productivity of your workforce with the requirements of individual employees.
Maximizing productivity is not necessarily straightforward or easily measurable either. But there are certainly a number of tools and processes that can help. These can be tech-based solutions, like the use of automated workforce technology, or more organizational ones, like the design of employee education programs.
Most companies will rely on some form of a training scheme to ensure that each employee is best equipped with the right skills and knowledge to carry out their job. Here’s our how-to guide to help you craft one for your company.
What is an Employee Training Plan?
Managing the training and continued professional development of a company’s learners inevitably gets more complicated for companies with lots of employees. Training in the accounting department will no doubt look very different from training in the marketing department.
Creating a training plan for each employee that’s tailored to their individual needs while still sticking to important company-wide standards is the best and most efficient way to make sure everyone gets the training they need.
Training plans should be easily accessible for both trainees and management, so that everyone can get a picture of an employee’s progress.
For those being trained, a clear roadmap will help them keep on top of tasks and know what’s expected of them. For those overseeing the training, good plans help track individual progress and the skillsets your company’s entire workforce has.
Designing Your Training Scheme
When crafting employee training plans, there are five key things you will need to keep in mind.
1. Incorporating Business Needs Into Your Training Plan
The question of what your business needs from a given employee will have a lot to do with their job title, and why their role was created in the first place. Establishing what’s required from an employee should be the first part of any training plan, as it’s the ultimate goal of all training.
The industry your business is in is another key factor to take into account. The needs of a tech brand will be very different from the needs of a fashion brand, for example.
Most businesses usually employ an orientation period to help new staff members get up to speed. This training process tends to be uniform, unless the employee has a technical role, in which case the training period will be typically longer
For instance, if you hire a new project manager, one of the first things you’ll want to do is make sure they understand and can use any scheduling and project planning tools that they’ll need.
When it comes to skills development for pre-existing employees, integrating business needs into training plans is a matter of weighing available training resources against particular areas where your business’s skills are lacking.
2. Designing a Plan For Your Employees Personalized Needs
As well as understanding the needs of your business, your employee training plan should also account for the personal needs of the individual employee.
The best way to do this is to involve your employees in the design of their own training plans. Most employees have some idea about how they best learn, so it’ll improve the speed and effectiveness of training to get them involved from the get-go.
By chatting with each employee about their learning style and career goals, you can make any necessary adjustments to the plan to meet the employees’ needs.
These needs might be technical ones. An employee might say they have trouble operating your company’s choice of free online meeting software, for example. If this is the case, specific instruction for the necessary tools can be incorporated into their training plan.
Employees’ personal needs might also be structural ones. Part-time workers will have less time for training than full-time workers. If your professional training scheme involves a mentoring program, matching mentors with mentees is also an important aspect to consider.
3. Defining Each Plan’s Training Goals
Once the purpose of training is set, business needs and personal needs can be used to pinpoint specific training goals.
The most common goals are improvement of necessary skills. What these are will vary from business to business and from role to role. For Shopify stores, web developers and designers will need to learn the ins and outs of the Shopify platform, and their training will need to keep them up to date with this system.
In the same business, however, product sourcers might not need these skills. Their training is likely to cover supply chain management, which developers will not need to concern themselves with.
It’s important to create a clear order in training plans which communicates the priority of different learning targets to your employees. Meaning simply; which goals of training elements should they focus on first.
More comprehensive training plans carried out over the long-term are likely to be divided into modules and courses. As these will likely connect to each other, make sure the order in which they are completed allows learners to build their knowledge cumulatively. Start with strong foundations and lead onto more advanced training goals when appropriate.
While it’s important to structure learning paths in a logical order, too much focus on a single topic at once can lead to information overload. Avoid this by mixing up the order learners complete their goals, giving them time to digest materials from other parts of their training before returning to the topic.
4. Finding and Tracking Success Metrics
How do you know if your employee training plans are working? For new-hire training plans and onboarding schemes, it’s common to measure progress with end-of-unit tests and exams. If new employees are passing the tests and demonstrating the skills they have learned, it’s a sign that a training program is effective.
For ongoing professional development and training tests can also play a part, but you’ll also want to track a worker’s day-to-day performance. To do this, you’ll want to pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) for each role.
KPIs will of course vary from role to role. An employee in charge of order fulfillment management will likely measure their performance by the rate and efficiency of order fulfillment. If, after training, the percentage of orders being fulfilled increases, or the average time for an order to be completed decreases, this is a sign that the training has worked.
In the case of inventory management, on the other hand, KPIs would differ. Staff in this area of your business may be better assessed by measuring how regular stockouts are or what wastage there is in the warehouse. These things will be important to them as they’re directly impacted by their own performance, and so are how they measure their success.
5. Establish a Feedback Mechanism
Feedback is not just a review procedure for e-commerce businesses selling on Amazon, it is a vital part of any training process. When we receive feedback, it allows us to know where we have done well and which areas we need to improve on.
How feedback is delivered can be the difference between a supportive training scheme that encourages employees to improve, and one that breeds resentment and generates a toxic professional atmosphere.
To incentivize all workers, feedback should be generally positive. Feedback based on test scores can be used to create some healthy competition between colleagues, but it’s important to make sure those who do not achieve the highest scores don’t feel that they have lost in any way.
Even a bad test result can be a good outcome of a training program, as it highlights difficulties an employee may have. Once highlighted, further training can be arranged, or if bad results are observed by multiple employees, it might be a sign that the program needs to be improved.
If your team is working remotely, it’s extra important to deliver detailed feedback. But avoid sending feedback reports without some form of face-to-face communication to complement them. Make sure you pay close attention to your employees’ responses and listen to any concerns they may have.
Finally, always keep in mind that feedback ought to be a circular process. Employees should receive feedback from training staff, who should, in turn, receive feedback from trainees.
Stable and Continued Employee Growth
Any system for training your workforce can benefit from having effective employee training plans in place. An internal training team should be responsible for creating and implementing these so that training is available for the right people at the right time.
Rather than just a mandatory course that new recruits to your business have to complete, think about training plans as a useful career tool that can be applied in many different ways for staff at all levels.
It’s best to think of training as a two-pronged commercial weapon. On the one hand, it’s an important aspect of business operations that can boost the efficiency and productivity of your workforce. On the other hand, it’s a worthwhile investment in the long-term professional development of your employees that will help their careers to grow and lead them to greater job satisfaction.
Ultimately, happy, engaged employees will increase your staff retention rate and contribute to a healthy work culture that benefits everyone. With this in mind, consider introducing or adjusting your employee training plans today.