Last updated on 21st October 2022
It goes without saying that employee training is SUPER important.
In its broadest sense, it develops and nurtures the practical skills required to ensure employees thrive in their role and can properly fulfil their job function.
But, beyond this, it represents a commitment and investment to their ongoing development – which can keep employees engaged and invested in their roles.
Bottom line: a well-trained workforce is happier, more productive and more engaged.
But it’s equally true that ’employee training’ is one big umbrella term for a LOT of different things.
Today’s employers and managers have access to more employee training techniques and methods than ever before.
From traditional training methods – classroom based training, hands on training, and practical training – through to new, technology fuelled methods like training videos, e-learning and computer based training. The training process is detailed, multi-faceted and complex and asks a lot of learning and development professionals.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best employee training methods – the old AND the new – covering their strengths, weaknesses and best uses cases.
By picking and choosing from this list, you’ll be able to build a training strategy that really works for your business, helping deliver workplace training in a way that can develop existing skills, facilitate new skills, boost employee engagement and build a happy, productive workforce!
When it comes to highly-effective training, video ticks all the boxes.
For starters, it allows employees to learn at their own pace. Videos can be paused to allow information to sink in, and they can even be rewatched at a later date.
Videos are also highly engaging. According to our 2022 video marketing survey, 73% of people said they’d prefer to learn by watching a short video.
Videos can be used to enhance different types of training sessions, including traditional classroom training. Speakers can play videos at the start, middle, or end of their training sessions to reaffirm the message.
Here’s a great example from one of our clients Nikwax:
This video speaks directly to sales staff and gives them examples of how to handle different situations.
Showing every employee the same video helps to ensure that a consistent message is delivered during each training session.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Video is also one of the most cost-effective ways to train your employees because there are no recurring costs. When you pay for a video you have a resource you can keep and reuse as many times as necessary.
Video has endless use cases, whether you’re educating new employees about the culture of your organisation, outlining your core policies, or focusing on key aspects of their role, video can be a great way to deliver your message.
Finally, whereas many training methods target a particular learning style, video targets a wide range of them.
eLearning does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s online training that’s delivered electronically, such as through computers, tablets, or even smartphones.
This kind of learning has grown in popularity in recent years for the same reasons as video – it allows employees to learn anytime, anywhere, and gives employers access to a reusable resource that ensures uniformity throughout their training.
According to a LinkedIn report, 57% of learning and development pros expected to spend more on online learning (or eLearning) in the future.
One company that’s had great success with eLearning is Tesco. With thousands of employees, it can be difficult for companies like Tesco to deliver and manage training.
eLearning allowed them to deliver rapid global compliance training to employees through engaging, bite-sized modules. According to Tesco’s Regulatory, Ethics & Compliance Director, David Ward:
“The suite of eLearning modules transformed the way in which we deliver compliance training at Tesco. During a four-week period, we were able to successfully train thousands of staff members.”
Plus, thanks to the advanced reporting that eLearning offers, managers were able to see who had completed the training successfully and who needed a little bit more encouragement.
This resulted in a 98% completion rate and 92% of employees agreed that they preferred eLearning to previous training methods.
3. Simulation training
Technically an extension of eLearning, simulation training nonetheless merits inclusion in this list in its own right.
Simulation training has a pretty narrow range of uses. It’s generally used for high-stakes, risky jobs – think of professionals like surgeons, and pilots where real-world failure would be catastrophic. For anything particularly dangerous or expensive, simulation can be one of the most effective training methods.
Simulation training involves delivering training through the use of a computer, augmented reality device or virtual reality headset – and allows these professionals to practice and learn at their own pace, consequence free.
Perhaps you prefer the old-fashioned, face-to-face classroom training – and that’s fine. Everyone learns in different ways. And there are benefits associated with classroom training, such as employees all being in the same room with the ability to ask questions in real-time.
However, despite the benefits, we can’t ignore the downside to classroom based training. It’s less environmentally-friendly, it costs more than online and video based training, and it has a lower retention rate.
According to one study, retention rates for face-to-face employee training programs were as low as 8-10%, while eLearning had a retention rate of 25-60%.
All that aside, classroom training is a great way to break-the-ice for new employees and can also act as a chance for you to showcase your company culture.
And you can combat those lower retention rates by making the experience interactive. This means getting everyone involved, and giving everyone a chance to speak.
You can use activities, role-plays, quizzes, and interactive games. All of which will help to make the training more memorable and enhance the chances of them achieving learning objectives.
5. On the job training
Sometimes, the best way to learn is just by getting stuck in! On the job training is sometimes called hands-on training, since it involves new employees getting hands-on experience of their new role. It’s one of the easiest and least time consuming types of training methods for employees, since the actual time input of delivering lessons is minimal, you just need to be on hand to help answer questions and resolve difficulties.
On the job training examples include observing colleagues and copying what they do, or jumping straight into new tasks with a supervisor overseeing the work and giving pointers as and when required.
This type of training is less formal than some others on the list but it’s great in that it applies directly to the new recruit’s role.
However, this is a time-intensive training method and can also be quite stressful for some as it’s a bit like being thrown in at the deep end!
Whether you include an employee shadowing component or simply leave your new hires to their own devices, on the job training is a great way to develop skills and competencies.
6. Buddy training
Similar to on the job training is buddy training. When buddy training, new employees should be supported at all times by someone who is confident and knows the role inside out. Think of this person as a “buddy” for your new employee!
According to Sapling HR, 87% of organisations believe that buddy programs boost new hire proficiency.
And buddy training can not only help new employees to feel more integrated in their new work environment, it can also help existing employees who are moving into new roles.
An ideal situation would be to overlap the time between the new employee starting and the old employee moving on. This way, the previous employee can train the new person and pass on all of the anecdotal things they’ve picked up along the way that you wouldn’t be able to express through traditional training.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a new HR rep. The current HR rep can take them through all of your existing filing processes, the software you use, and so on. This allows the new employee to ask the current one any questions they may have before they get stuck in!
7. Classroom/Instructor led training
Classroom training is led by a qualified instructor over the course of one day or several days. This can be on-site at your business or off-site at another facility. As you can probably tell – with an instructor, several days out, sometimes an additional venue, and sometimes travel expenses – classroom training can be pretty expensive.
It’s best for when you’re hiring employees in bulk so you can get everyone’s training done at the same time.
Everyone knows what role-playing is, and most likely you either love it or you hate it. Role-playing can be a great way to break the ice and allow new employees to have fun while training.
Role-playing involves employees acting out an aspect of their job in a controlled scenario in order to gain feedback that can help them improve. For example, a salesperson role-playing a sales call to show how they would handle certain scenarios.
Role-playing is a memorable way to train your staff as according to some studies, people only remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, but an impressive 80% of what they see and do.
Lectures are one of the primary ways that students at university are taught, so it should be no surprise that this method of training can be transferred to your business.
Lectures work particularly well for large businesses that need to train a lot of staff all at one time. This makes them great for refresher training as it gives everyone a chance to sit together and go over material they might not have heard in a long time.
A lecture setting allows employees to take notes and ask any questions they may have, and with today’s technology you could even utilise video lectures using conference tools like Google Meet or Zoom.
10. Job rotation
Job rotation refers to the movement of employees from one job to another within your organisation for the purposes of training employees.
It’s a cost effective way to not only train employees but also orient new starters, facilitate career development, and reduce job-related boredom.
The idea is that someone who is well established in their role will share their knowledge with another employee. This trains the employee but also gives them valuable background knowledge on the role and means you can move staff around if you ever have a shortage due to illnesses or holidays.
11. Induction training
Induction training is a way to set aside a period of time for your new employees to adjust to the business. Depending on the role, an induction can last one day, one week, or even a month.
Typically, the new employee will be guided by an instructor or more senior member of staff and they’ll be shown who they’re going to be working with, their work environment, and more.
12. Implement culture training
Training employees to do their job effectively is important, but it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your training sessions.
Culture training should be implemented, too. In order to feel comfortable in a new workplace and be an asset to your team, new employees need to be a good culture fit.
According to a study by Glassdoor, company culture is the most important factor for employees in the US:
And the numbers are almost identical for employees in the UK:
When you hear the phrase “company culture” you might think of a huge company like Google. And that’s because they’ve made culture an important part of their business identity.
There are countless articles online about Google’s culture, photos of their colourful campuses, and even videos that feature real employees talking about life at the company:
It’s easy to implement culture training into the rest of your training program – and you can do this through any of the methods we’ve already discussed, such as eLearning, interactive training, or through videos.
13. Early onboarding
According to Glassdoor, the average employer spends about £3,000 and 27 days to hire a new employee.
With all of this time and money invested, it’s important to get things right. So why not start your training before the new hire even starts their first day?
This can be done through the delivery of simple information, such as instructions on parking, what the dress code is, or the name of their supervisor. Or it could be more involved, such as sending them an employee handbook to read before they start.
Any additional information like this will all contribute towards a smoother start for new employees, so that when they arrive on that first day they have more energy to focus on the training for their role.
14. Revisit regularly
Training should never be a one-and-done thing.
Your staff members should revisit their training on a regular basis, and be constantly learning so that they can keep up with the changes that are happening in your industry.
This not only contributes to their development, it also helps your business to remain current and keep up with emerging trends.
But constantly training and upskilling your staff can be expensive. That’s why it helps to invest in a tool that can be used time and time again, like employee training videos.
When you invest in videos, you only pay once and they’re yours to use as many times as needed!
15. Online courses
There are a number of reasons why online courses make sense for employee training. First, they’re relatively affordable. While the cost of developing your own training materials can be significant, online courses are typically much less expensive.
Second, online courses are convenient. Your employees can access them at any time, from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easy to fit training into even the busiest schedule.
Finally, online courses can provide comprehensive training. There are a wide variety of courses available on everything from customer service to sales, and you can pick and choose the ones that best fit your needs.
Tools like Skillshare, Lynda and Udemy offer courses based around online videos that free up your employees to learn at their own pace, without the time input of creating course materials in-house.
Which employee training method is best?
With so many different employee training methods at your disposal, which are the ones that work for you? The answer, frankly, is that you don’t know until you try!
Trying things out and having an honest, open-minded approach – a willingness to strip back what doesn’t work, and double down on what does – is the best way to build a training strategy that works.
So trust your instincts, keep an open mind – and get stuck in!
For more information on how to get started with employee training, check out our employee onboarding videos page.