If you're training employees, whether they're old-timers or new folks on the job then you already know how difficult that can be. Aside from the obvious difficulty of conveying everything there is to know about a given job or task in as little as a few weeks or, at most, a few months there's also the reality that many people learn differently, and as such might be better suited to some training styles than others. While this doesn't sound so bad in theory, the reality is that, if people like this receiving their training in a specific format, rather than one which better fits their own capabilities, they might not succeed as well.
So, what's the answer? Well, a clear place to start is in the beginning: with a list of factors to take into account the next time training time rolls around. After that, we'll follow it up with an overview of the different learning styles of every employee, followed in turn by an overview of the most effective learning styles and how you can make these complement the skill sets of your staff.
Are you ready? In that case, let's dive right into the 7 factors you'll need to take into account when training new employees.
1- How many people do you need to train?
People can learn more effectively in small groups, and, consequently, less effectively in larger ones. As a result, you'll have to tailor the size of your training sessions accordingly. Case in point: if you have larger groups, you might have to stagger them into several different time periods. If you have, say, sixty employees who all need to be trained at the same time, it's not necessarily realistic to do it all in one session. Instead, you can split the cohort up into two groups of thirty.
Having more (or less) people who need to be trained will also have an important impact on the resources you intend to use. For this reason, carefully keep records of how many resources you take up cost (in terms of both time and money), expendable or consumable items, miles or kilometers traveled, if the training is held somewhere away from your usual workplace whenever you're training a new batch of employees. This exercise will allow you to more adequately protect the number of resources you'll need during future training sessions.
2- How will you train your employees?
As we said before, many different training or education styles are available; we'll get to those in a bit. In the meantime, put some thought into what resources you have available, how large of a workspace you have to work with, and what facilities are offered to you. These factors will affect how you will train the workers: whether by speaking with them, giving them hands-on-training, or allowing them to learn on the job.
3- What is your goal in training your employees?
This goal will vary depending on your organization and what kinds of activities you plan to do during work. Usually, the goal will be something like learning all the basics that a job entails (for a new worker), or, if the situation demands it, learning new skills in an established job (for example, if everyone has changed the software or e-mail client that they use). In the latter case, you'll find that one-day or weekend workshops might be more effective; in the former, you'll naturally have to devote more time and resources to the task. But whatever your situation is, you'll want to ruminate over your goals before you make any decisions. After all, if one of your goals is to have your employees have an excellent work-life balance, then you won't want to schedule them for training during weird hours of the day, such as seven o'clock.
4- Take into account workplace culture.
A fast-paced workplace might or, conversely, might not benefit from slow-paced training, depending on how everyone acts at work and what their expectations are. Similarly, if your employees are energetic and dynamic, they might respond better to fast-paced training but they might not learn as quickly.
When doing this exercise, you can also take into account the age of the average employee. For example, if you have older folks working for you, they might prefer structure and discipline, whereas younger folks Millennials, Gen Xers and, if you're working with teenagers, those of Generation might be more open to an environment where they have more freedom and autonomy. That isn't to say that, of course, that you should judge employees based on their ages right off the bat. Rather, you should consider how they act when they're at work (or during their interview, if they haven't started working yet), and then alter your training strategies accordingly. You can also research into training styles best suited for different workplace cultures.
5- Do you have all the tools necessary to train your employees?
Remember that training can take a lot of resources: money, time, materials, equipment, expendable resources such as food (if you're in food services), and so on, and so forth. Not to mention, as we said before, you'll also have to pay for gas or mileage, if training is offsite. Because of this, you'll have to think about the resources you do have before you begin any training activities. If you don't have a lot of time or employees to devote to training others than you should scale down on your expectations and focus on simpler training schemes.
6- Do you want your employees to know everything right away?
Versatile employees are always helpful for the organization, and giving them the skills your workplace needs can help them ascend in their career but that doesn't mean you need to teach them everything right away. Instead, focus on how well they're doing while they're being trained. If they're struggling a little, help them learn one task properly before bringing them up to the next one. If they seem to be progressing more quickly, consider showing them other aspects of the job, so that they can take over for their absent coworkers.
7- And finally, are the employees right for the jobs they're being trained for?
If an employee passed their job interview, then they're generally right for the job. However, depending on their individual skill sets, they might not be ready for everything entailed in their job descriptions right away, as we outlined in the point above. If this is the case, then you can set them to those tasks that they're better at and are more comfortable with, which are also part of the job description. Once again, you can switch them once they've mastered those, onto the tasks they'll be using more often. You shouldn't rush them; some people take a little more time to learn, and that's okay.
Different kinds of training methods
Now that we've discussed the different factors to consider when training employees, we're going to summarize the various training methods.
Hands-on training: This can be either on-the-job training, where employees are shown something visually before repeating it themselves in the work environment; or hands-on training during a workshop, where the same thing happens, but in a controlled environment, such as at a workshop, where no catastrophes are bound to happen. In either case, these are both excellent tools for teaching employees both the practical and theoretical aspects of their jobs.
Meetings: During meetings, employees will listen to a guide while following along with the supplied PowerPoint presentation. Depending on the workplace, they may or may not take notes. In all cases, meetings are quite theoretical, and generally, don't involve practical skills.
Conference: During a conference, employees are taken away for a day or a few days to learn new skills in a new environment. They can feature training of any of the types we've mentioned above.
Web learning: Employees can learn online by taking virtual courses, including following presentations, taking quizzes, and even doing coursework such as simple assignments. These are effective because they allow employees to access the knowledge from the comfort of their own homes.
Which training method is best for your company?
The answer to this question will depend on the skills involved, as you'll soon see. Hands-on training, for example, is a great choice for employees who work with their hands or on manual tasks. Note that, if they're learning their skills at a workshop (and not on the job directly), this might be an unnecessary expense. On-the-job training is generally cheaper, and the risk and error factor is still fairly low.
Meetings are informative but don't expect employees to learn a lot at them, particularly if they don't work in environments where they're used to listening to long talks (office jobs, education, and so forth). Instead, make sure that they can access the PowerPoints so that they can follow along once they're back in their own office. This will help them consolidate what they learned, as well as engage with it in a new environment.
As you might imagine, web learning is best for employees who are well-versed with the Internet, and who have both computer and Internet access at home. This means that they're skewed toward younger demographics, including millennials, and toward jobs that often require computer work, such as office jobs, graphic design jobs, or administrative jobs.
As for conferences, they are ideal for most employees, who will enjoy the time out of work; however, a one-day workshop will generally limit how much they can learn, owing to the short time-frame.
Training: a challenge to be overcome
Training employees are rewarding, even if it is a little difficult. Master the skills involved, however, and you'll soon find that you can do a great job. Choose the right style for the best results. You can even take coaching courses, which will help you train employees to the best of your ability. We wish you (and your employees) amazing luck in the future!