Employee training and development are often a cornerstone of life at successful companies. Starting with orientation, trainings serve to introduce employees to their roles, cultivate company culture and set expectations for what their tenure has in store.
Throughout the life of an employee, mandatory training in subjects including safety procedures and sexual harassment prevention will almost certainly play a role, not to mention individualized, job-specific development activities and classes designed to enrich knowledge and enhance potential.
Some companies have formal programs in place to ensure that workers have a clear path open to them toward improvement and advancement. Others take a more informal route, with employees themselves tasked with requesting or finding development opportunities that suite their current role and future plans.
Regardless of what training hierarchy exists in your company, and how often training is required, training tools are essential in delivering everything your workforce needs. Below are some of the top training tools for employees and employers alike that can be used to build a stronger workforce and to retain top talent.
Below are some of the top tools that training professionals use to build effective, engaging training and development programs. Many require some technological support, but some of these methods can be modified to fit a more analog environment if necessary:
- Skills inventories
- Real-time polling
- eLearning platforms
How well do you know the abilities of your current workforce? This is a trickier question then it may appear at first glance, because a comprehensive skills inventory includes not just what workers demonstrate on a day-to-day basis, but also what abilities they possess that could serve them well as their career evolves. This knowledge allows organizations to best position employees to fulfill their potential, and to set them on a career path to success with promotions along the way.
Having a clear view of your employee skill set is also vital in identifying gaps that exist throughout an organization. Understanding those gaps is the first step not only for planning related to recruitment of new workers to fill those needs, but also for laying the groundwork for what type of training opportunities would best serve the developmental needs of existing workers.
Companies can start by identifying skills categories that are relevant to their industry and then building an organized inventory of which employees have those skills (and at what level). Next steps involve a deeper analysis of the inventory to help identify the areas where talent is plentiful as well as areas where it is thin. In conjunction with other business goals and strategies, this information will serve to inform overarching training objectives as well as recruitment initiatives.
Further, it leaves your company in good stead to prepare for the challenges of the future, as your needs evolve and existing employees may be given the opportunity to advance along a career path that might not have been immediately apparent without the skills inventory to light the way. Inventories should be done on a regular basis, so that the knowledge base is always up-to-date.
Once you know what training needs to be done, it’s time to get to work. Although asynchronous training is becoming increasingly popular, classroom-style, in-person sessions are still sometimes the best way to go. Training tools for employees in live sessions are often designed to keep leaners engaged and to quickly assess their level of understanding. Response technology like TurningPoint is an excellent way to accomplish those goals.
Live polling with TurningPoint is a relatively simple process. Presenters ask questions in real time by adding TurningPoint slides to a PowerPoint presentation; polling over top of videos, documents and other applications with a floating toolbar; or building question lists directly into a comprehensive web-based platform. Participants then respond to the interactive questions with their own cell phones, tablets and computers, or with hardware clickers.
Beyond the obvious goal of fighting short attention spans and staving off boredom, real-time interactive questions enhance trainings in a wide variety of ways. One of the most notable is that, when the learners’ responses are displayed, instructors can make adjustments to the lesson based on the answers. In that way, they can move on quickly from material that everyone understands, while taking more time on the concepts that prove to be trickier for each individual group.
Active learning is another powerful training strategy that real-time polling helps to make possible. Techniques like gamification, team-based learning and peer instruction have been shown to improve learning results, and can make even tedious trainings more interesting.
Additionally, response technology is a valuable tool for helping employees overcome participation anxiety. For many people, raising their hand to answer a question is an intimidating prospect. Using response technology helps that worry disappear and inspires lively discussions instead of awkward silence.
While some types of training require the full classroom experience, others are just as effective with an online, asynchronous model. This method gives employees the freedom to complete trainings and professional development at times that are convenient for them, especially when they can access the trainings via desktop or mobile devices.
An asynchronous set-up may lack real-time, personal attention, but takes away the difficulty of finding meeting times that work for everyone. On-demand training also allows employees to pursue an unimpeded path toward personal development instead of waiting until a full cohort is available to take a specific course.
An eLearning platform can range from a simple technological solution to a robust, comprehensive learning management system (LMS). TurningPoint, for instance, offers the ability to share interactive questions asynchronously while tracking results online, and can serve as an eLearning platform on its own or as one piece in a larger training and development infrastructure.
Your needs will vary depending on the size of your company and the extent of your training and development program, but there are a few elements that should be in place regardless.
The ability to create courses and build diverse types of content is a must. This depth provides the flexibility to support both one-off trainings and multi-part classes in a wide range of topics that meet the needs of your employees. An intuitive interface is key, since less time thinking about the mechanics of building the course means more time to craft quality content and assessments.
Along those lines, it is essential to have a means of assessing your learners after they go through a course, preferable built right into the eLearning platform itself. This can include interactive questions interspersed throughout and/or a comprehensive exam at the end.
Of course, tracking employee accomplishments is just as important as delivering the training in the first place. As a result, you need to make sure that whatever platform you select is able to run reports so that you can see at-a-glance what trainings have been successfully completed by each employee. This is particularly important if you have to demonstrate the completion of mandatory trainings in compliance with regulatory bodies.
Sending out employee surveys is not always the first thing that comes to mind when building a training tool chest. Even so, adding this step to the training process can make a world of difference.
After every training, make a point to conduct post-event evaluations. It is particularly helpful for organizational purposes when responses are automatically tied to the appropriate course so that you can easily reference materials, assignments and rosters when analyzing the data. TurningPoint, for example, stores survey results as part of the course in your online account.
The post-training surveys let you know what worked and what didn’t so that future sessions can build on strengths and avoid pitfalls. Employees can also use them to weigh in on what training and development programs would be valuable to them. Asking for their opinions lets employees know that their feedback is valued, and gives you insights that help shape a better overall training environment throughout the organization.