Employee training is a standard operating procedure in almost all business organizations today. Some large and medium organizations have dedicated internal training departments, while others prefer to outsource their programs to professional trainers. Small organizations typically prefer to conduct ‘training-on-the-job’ for their employees in an informal setup.
However, business leaders are increasingly asking questions about the effectiveness of these training programs and their return on investment for organizations. Training experts and HR executives with years of experience in facilitating training interventions have their own thoughts on what could be the most effective training method for employees. What's more, these methods change according to the different types of organizations, the conviction of HR leaders, participation by team managers and top leadership in ensuring the overall learning outcomes for employees.
Here are some of the most effective training methods that organizations can work with, to ensure employees are well trained as per their need:
Traditional classroom intervention
Many experts say that days of traditional classroom interventions are numbered as advanced learning technology takes over. And they are right in pointing out the limitations and challenges that this method has in terms of creating impact. However, it is too early to write them off. Face-to-face training sessions are far more effective than any other in behavioral or attitudinal interventions. That’s because a technology tool cannot facilitate behavioral change among employees.
We all want our employees to make changes in their behavior and beliefs through attitudinal sessions. Emotions play a key role in that and employees need to have that roller coaster ride of emotions, which will help them realize the positives and challenges of emotions and their impact on the actions they take. Expert trainers who conduct these sessions are adept at channelizing these emotions and ensuring a positive impact. This can be achieved through the principles of experiential learning and adult learning. Hence, if we club traditional classroom sessions with learning technology, results are likely to be far more potent.
Performance coaching (also known as ‘On-the-job training’) continues to play a key role in ensuring effective engagement of teams and upskilling employees. The best part about this intervention is the focus on “seeking water when one is really thirsty”. Problems are identified and solutions are given by an expert only when an employee actually faces an issue on the job. However, trainers need to pre-empt the possible issue and prepare solutions beforehand.
In this method, the team leader (trainer in this case) has an opportunity to lead by example. He/she can show junior employees how to practically deal with a certain situation. Retention of learning is likely to be far higher if that happens. In addition, trainers have an opportunity to help employees reflect through live interactions, extracting from them what went right and what could have been done better. Any manager can be trained to do performance coaching provided, he/she is unbiased and has the ability to wear a coach’s hat.
How about making employees part of a cross-functional team or giving them the responsibility for handling business areas that go beyond their key performance indicators? These kinds of challenges bring about leadership qualities among employees and they can be groomed for next level roles without having to make any tall promises. This intervention frees up time for a manager if he/she can successfully delegate, while the employees feel more empowered.
Social learning can be done by providing employees with frequent opportunities to meet and providing them a platform share their learning or broadcast their views to other team members. However, we need to be careful about setting the context in order to ensure that these opportunities are not used for spreading negativity or company gossip. Ideally, platforms can be created on the company intranet so that employees located at remote locations can share their views. Many organizations have successfully implemented a buddy system for new employees or an employee with a role change.
Technology Enabled Learning
Technology Enabled Learning or E-learning (TEL) is rapidly gaining significance among business organizations due to the convenience it offers. TEL is becoming popular because everyone agrees that training has to be a continuous process in an employee’s life cycle. Other training methods have their limitations in the number of people that can be covered simultaneously, cost and reach etc. The TEL method can be either used as a standalone learning intervention or as a follow-up to other training methods. This kind of E-learning is highly useful for employee training, since offers flexibility in terms of time and place of learning. Elearning allows organizations to provide access to the best training content from across the world in the most cost-effective manner. The rapid expansion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) is allowing employees to access global learning content at absolutely no cost. Virtual classrooms are another by-product of E-learning through video conference. App-based learning is also effective as a training method for effective learning.
Simulation-based learning is where an employee is put into a real-life situation without fear of failure. This method can either done be through technology or face-to-face interaction. Various technology options available are: Gamification (learning challenges presented in the form of games), Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, etc. These are some interesting ways in which employees can adopt different approaches and learn from different possible results. High involvement of employees, intense competition and easily replication are some of the major benefits. Face-to-face interaction based simulations such as mock calls, case studies and presentations are also effective ways of employee training.
Organizations need to look at all these methods and then adopt the one that is best suited to them. In addition to keeping their budgets in mind, they also need to keep previous experiences in mind while selecting a suitable training method. With the advent of learning technology, newer innovative ways can help organizations to ensure effective training for their employees.