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Crafting Talent: Building Effective Employee Training Programs

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“Knowledge is power” when it comes to career advancement. Employees who regularly undergo further training can improve their individual skills, open up new opportunities and enrich their respective teams with new skills. The problem with that? Corporate training often has a reputation for being boring, which makes it difficult to motivate employees to continuously learn.

This article explores how companies can train their employees to motivate them, develop their growth mindset, and ensure the long-term success of each individual and the entire company. The best part is that we provide you with an employee training program template to get started.

What is an employee training program?

An employee training program provides rich learning opportunities and experiences to improve employees' skills, knowledge and skills. It serves to improve employees' job-specific skills, strengthen their personal and leadership skills and promote a culture of continuous development. Employee training programs are highly customizable and flexible to the specific needs of each employee.

However, training is only one component of a comprehensive workforce development plan. To form a holistic, overarching strategy, it should be combined with other development opportunities such as coaching, networking, performance management and career planning.

What does an employee training program include?

Effective training programs typically include the following key components:

Individual training goals

Companies create individual goals for every employee in the company, from individual employees to senior executives. Managers can develop SMART training goals with their direct reports that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-limited, and take into account the employee's current skills and career aspirations.

For example, a young software engineer's SMART training goal might be to become proficient in Python by the end of the year, as measured by completing a certified course.

Common Types of Employee Training

A modern employee training program could include a mix of different training formats, such as: E.g.:

Training courses

Formal, instructor-led training is helpful for teaching entire topics, especially those that introduce new concepts to learners. Employee training can take place in real-time environments, e.g. on site or in a virtual classroom. Alternatively, learners can also take part in courses that they can complete at their own pace.


Learners can participate in microlearning training where they absorb bite-sized pieces of the material, such as: a short training tip via Slack or email. This type of training is best used as a supplement or refresher for previous courses, rather than learning an entire topic from scratch.

Job shadowing

This type of on-the-job training involves pairing an employee with a more experienced co-worker so they can learn by observing and supporting their colleague. Job shadowing can be a valuable tool for developing soft skills or technical training while getting to know the company culture.

Professional memberships

Professional memberships, such as those offered by SHRM, provide access to industry resources, events and networking opportunities. Employees can use these memberships to stay current in their field, gain access to industry reports, etc.

Peer learning

Peer learning or social learning allows employees to learn from each other through workshops, mentoring, discussion groups or team projects. This experience builds strong relationships between employees while fostering a collaborative learning environment. Peer-to-peer feedback also helps identify knowledge gaps and encourage continuous improvement.


Gamification brings out the competitive spirit of your team members by using game design elements such as points and rewards to motivate everyone to complete their training. This is beneficial for teaching new processes or concepts that require hands-on practice.

Training deadlines and milestones

When you set a training goal, you need to break it down into manageable chunks that you can achieve alongside a heavy workload. Every training plan should include a realistic deadline for your goal and milestones to ensure you stay on track.

For example, if an accountant's goal is to complete a tax law course in six months, they might set milestones such as: E.g. complete a module every two weeks to achieve your goal.

Why should companies invest in training and further education for their employees?

Some employees will train on their own time and from their own pockets. It may be tempting for small businesses to allow this rather than offering in-house training and development. However, companies of all sizes that invest in the development of their employees reap enormous benefits:

1.Attract and retain employees

Today's employees are fickle. Anyone who changes jobs will happily move to another company if the employer is not committed to their professional development. LinkedIn highlights that 93% of companies are concerned about employee retention and see providing learning opportunities as the most important way to retain their employees. In a separate study by TalentLMS, 76% of employees said they were more likely to stay with a company that offered ongoing training.

Younger employees in particular are very interested in further training. 87% of Millennials want development opportunities in their new workplace, while 76% of Generation Z want more opportunities to learn or practice new skills.

2.Address skills gaps

87% of companies already have a skills gap or expect one to arise in the next few years, meaning companies have problems that their employees cannot solve.

A Monster survey shows that 58% of companies struggle to find candidates with the right skills, and even if they could, Dell points out that 85% of the jobs expected in 2030 don't yet exist.

Further training, not as a one-off but as an ongoing measure, is a meaningful way to close these skills gaps, both now and in the future.

3.Support succession planning

When it comes to succession planning, forward-looking companies plan ahead to ensure smooth transitions between managers and teams. After identifying high-performing employees as potential successors, companies can offer appropriate further training to prepare them for future tasks. This approach ensures a strong talent pipeline and retains top talent by showing them that their employer invests in their development and recognizes their potential.

4.Achievement of company goals

While we emphasize the importance of tailoring training programs to the individual, companies also need to ensure that employee training and development plans align with overall company goals. For example, a company looking to expand its global presence could offer language courses or cultural intelligence courses to directly support this goal. Likewise, a company that wants to improve sustainability could offer green skills training to help employees identify opportunities to reduce waste.

5.Improve employee engagement

Engaged employees are productive, positive and motivated team members. When companies invest in their employees by offering them training opportunities, it shows that they are interested in nurturing their talents and helping them reach their potential. This improves satisfaction with the company and increases overall employee engagement. Culture Amp's research shows that employees are 46% more engaged when they can develop skills that align with their interests.

11 Strategies for a Successful Employee Training Program

Set your company and employees up for success by applying these best practices when preparing and implementing your training program.

1.Set goals for your new employee training program

Be clear about why you are providing employee training and how you expect it to support your business goals. Setting goals will help you measure the success of your training program and make adjustments as needed.

For example, a SMART goal could be to improve employee retention by X% by the end of Q4 by increasing access to training across all departments. Each of your SMART goals should include relevant metrics (in this example, your employee retention rate) to track progress.

2.Hire people based on their skills

Your training program will be more effective if you hire the right people in the first place. Once you've hired people with the skills relevant to your business, they'll serve as the foundation for future training.

Hiring managers can support this by prioritizing skills over less relevant criteria such as higher education or experience when selecting candidates moving through each stage of the hiring funnel. LinkedIn's Future of Recruiting report shows that 75% of recruiters see hiring based on skills as a top priority in the next 18 months, and the proportion of recruiters using skills filters to identify qualified candidates is increased by 25% in the last three years.

3.Prioritize your training needs

The average training spending of large companies will fall from $19.2 million to $16.1 million in 2023. However, medium-sized companies' training budgets remained the same at around $1.5 million, while small companies' training budgets increased from $368,000 in 2022 to $459,000 in 2023.

Regardless of the category your company falls into, you need to be selective in the training you offer so as not to blow your training budget. Prioritize training according to company goals and create programs tailored to those needs. For example, provide leadership development or conflict resolution training for high-potential employees, or technical skills training for employees taking on a new role. Prioritizing your training needs will ensure you invest in the right areas and achieve the maximum impact from your employee development programs.

4.Adjust growth plans

Don't cut corners by implementing identical training plans for employees in the same roles. Why actually? Imagine you have five new sales reps who all work at the same level on the team and all need to meet the same quarterly sales goals. Since they are working towards the same goal, their training and growth plans should also be the same. Correct?

Incorrect. These sales team members did not come to your company with the same skills. Some of them are adept at negotiating while others have exceptional interpersonal skills. One team member wants to become a sales manager, while another wants to become a high-performing sales representative. Therefore, it is crucial to tailor training plans to the individual needs, skills and goals of each employee.

5.Combine different types of training

A comprehensive training plan should include several techniques to accelerate employee learning and understanding of the topic. Timothy Zimmer, People Operations Manager, explains how Great Lakes Psychology Group has successfully combined real-time training with supportive initiatives such as using a learning management system or participating in job shadowing.

6.Invest in mentoring and coaching

While formal courses deserve their place in any training program, mentoring and coaching effectively complement learning with hands-on experience. Encourage your employees to work with mentors who can advise and support them in managing their current tasks and responsibilities. This allows for individual learning and growth opportunities while promoting collegial relationships.

7.Implement training from the start

Get off to a good start by integrating continuous learning into your company culture from onboarding. Comprehensive onboarding training gives new employees the tools and knowledge base they need to succeed in their new workplace. From here, you can develop personalized training according to each learner's specific goals.

Creating an onboarding plan is an important process for making new employees feel welcome. You shouldn't schedule every minute of the day, but the first few weeks should be filled with sessions that help employees get to know the company, their department and their role.

8.Take a holistic approach to employee training

Employee training should be accessible to every employee in the company. An inclusive approach also means offering a wide range of learning styles to suit each employee. For example:

  • Visual learners prefer presenting information in tables, graphics, charts and videos. You can benefit from slideshows, infographics, and other visual aids.
  • Auditory learners enjoy listening and communicating verbally. An auditory training program could include discussions, lectures, podcasts, and other auditory techniques.
  • Kinesthetic or tactile learners thrive on hands-on experiences, role-playing, and interactive exercises.
  • Reading and writing learners feel comfortable with written information, e.g. when reading instructions and manuals or taking notes.
  • Social learners feel particularly comfortable in groups and enjoy learning together, e.g. in group discussions, team projects and interactions between like-minded people.

9.Create a learning culture

The psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck suggests that two types of mindsets can shape attitudes toward learning - a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. The growth mindset is the belief that someone can develop a skill or intelligence through sheer dedication and hard work. In contrast, the fixed mindset believes that a person's abilities are unchangeable.

In employee training, we want all learners to believe that anything is possible, so we need to build a positive learning culture. Companies can encourage this growth mindset by:

  • Create an environment in which employees are happy to take on new tasks and acquire new skills
  • See setbacks and failures as an opportunity to learn and grow and not as a sign of incompetence
  • Challenge each other to think outside the box and explore new ideas
  • Providing regular feedback to employees to encourage skill development and increase confidence
  • Encouraging employees to look for the next learning opportunity, even after formal training programs have ended

10.Introduce regular feedback

Multi-way feedback between employees, their managers and their trainers keeps everyone up to date:

  • The trainers can give the employees tips and suggestions.
  • Managers can receive feedback on the progress of their direct reports
  • Employees can provide feedback on how they find the content or delivery of the training.

Encouraging open communication and creating a safe space for feedback are crucial to ensuring your training program meets the needs of everyone involved. You can collect these important insights in personal conversations, surveys or feedback forms.

10.Recognize your employees for their training progress

Motivation is an important factor in fostering a continuous learning environment. According to a IceHrm survey of 800 full-time employees in the U.S., employee recognition has a big impact on the workplace.

  • 81.9% of employees believe that recognizing their contributions increases their engagement.
  • 83.6% of employees believe that recognition impacts their motivation to succeed at work
  • 77.9% of employees would be more productive if they were recognized more often.

IceHrm's platform facilitates recognition of training progress through public praise, rewards and work-related challenges. Highlighting employee achievements and progress encourages everyone to continue their learning journey and show that their development is valued and recognized within the company.

Elevate your company's training culture with IceHrm. Empower employees, align goals, and foster growth for a thriving workforce!

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