Improving Training and Development Strategies

Workplace skills, training, and values must constantly evolve to keep up with new ideas and technology. Employees are becoming more vocal about their need for meaningful employment and growth opportunities. In fact, a lack of training and development is one of the reasons why employees leave to grow somewhere else. 

Recent data from the Top Workplaces Research Lab shows that 80% of employees respond positively to the statement, “My manager helps me learn and grow.” That number jumps to 85% at Top Workplaces and 94% at Top Workplaces in the tenth percentile – showing that employers of choice invest in training and development. 

Organizations perform at a higher level when they understand and appreciate the value of an employee’s desire to improve themselves and the business. Efforts to nurture a culture of development are most successful when employees, managers, and leaders are all on the same page.

Benefits of improving training and development 

Companies need to assess their current initiatives and figure out how to improve training and development strategies to benefit more people. Training and development programs improve the employee experience, which boosts company productivity and performance. The benefits of effective training strategies can help with a lot, including:

There are many other benefits to having well-rounded training and development programs, but a company will only realize those benefits with intentional improvement efforts. Here are twelve tips to keep employees engaged and retained with training and development. 

12 tips to improve training and development 

Successful companies take an intentional approach to improving their training and development strategies. Because organizations have unique struggles and needs, what works for one organization might not work for another. But there are some universal best practices. These tips will help any organization improve its training and development strategy. 

1. Identify your needs

Companies must understand their business’s unique goals and requirements to create the most effective training and development plan. Even different teams might have unique needs.

Ask managers and department leaders what kinds of training and development they think would be the most effective for their teams. If there are a lot of opportunities for improvement, start by focusing on needs that directly impact critical organizational goals.

2. Analyze staff performance

Auditing company performance levels and employees’ feelings about their contributions is another great place to start. Training and development strategies are about improving autonomy and organizational performance. The more data you have about productivity, the more effective your solutions become.

When analyzing staff performance data, looking at employee feedback is helpful. Often, employees provide incredibly insightful information about gaps in their productivity. Those insights help leaders understand the “why” behind different teams’ performance levels.

3. Set realistic goals

Start by aligning training and development programs with company goals to achieve the best results. While this may sound simple, it’s an often overlooked step. From higher productivity and quality to customer and employee satisfaction, working towards an established goal is a key training recommendation. Company leaders should benchmark any business goals against their competition to understand how to adjust their existing programs.  

4. Create metrics to measure progress 

Metrics to measure training and development strategies can be simple, but managers should incorporate them into every step. Examples include cost of training, completion rates, and employee goal impacts. In addition, employee surveys are an effective method of capturing feedback and valuable input on how to improve training and development strategies. 

5. Engage with your employees 

Understanding employee needs and gaining buy-in is critical to effective training and development strategies. While accelerating your company’s ability to achieve business goals, it’s also important to consider employee satisfaction. Individuals are more likely to believe the organization wants them to learn and grow when their input and participation are part of the training and development strategy. Examples of questions employers can ask employees include:  

  • What aspects of your job role interest you most? 
  • What responsibilities do you find challenging? 
  • What resources do you need to succeed in your role?
  • Do you feel like you’re learning new things?
  • Are there projects or positions that interest you and your growth? 
  • What new areas or skills would you like to explore? 

6. Match training and development with employee and management goals 

Companies should ask employees about their goals and listen. Effective training strategies prioritize management and employee goals equally. Today’s workforce includes employees across multiple generations, meaning employees may have varying values and goals.   

Active participation in training and development strategies is one of the qualities of great managers. They recognize that these programs strengthen their employees’ skill sets. It is also constructive for managers and leaders to facilitate training sessions to engage employees and align employee and management goals.  

7. Create a formal program 

Effective training strategies are consistent and iterative, from goal setting to application and measurement. Schedule time for training and development programs, even if the topics are fluid, so the initiative doesn’t get forgotten when times get busier. A formal approach is better than ad-hoc training and ensures all team members have regular access to more training opportunities.  

8. Start small and stay small 

Rolling out a massive training and development program can be overwhelming and hard to maintain. Starting with smaller pilot programs that evolve with goal setting, metric measurement, and company communication are more beneficial. 

Once a strategy takes hold and works for all stakeholders, it should stay small and actionable. Keeping realistic expectations and a fluid structure allows you to flex and change your training and development programs based on needs. You can also include smaller doses of continuous training to keep up with a rapidly changing environment.   

9. Provide various training types 

Not all employees learn the same way, so it’s essential that companies offer many different types of training methods. Evaluate how your training and development programs can be more inclusive of all learning styles.  

Different types of training include:   

  • Lectures:  Best suited for larger audiences and effective for delivering general, easy-to-understand information. 
  • On-the-job training: Appropriate for managers or employees to offer skills training in real-time.  
  • Group discussions:  A effective way to create space for open thinking, discussion, and asking questions.  
  • Games and quizzes:  Try these fun and interactive ways to incorporate competition into the mix and increase learning retention.  
  • Videos: An effective training tool for visual learners that can be viewed multiple times.  
  • Simulations:  Realistic scenarios presented in a safe environment allowing individuals to apply learning and make improvements before applying it to the real world.  

Finding the right balance of different training types takes time and communication with all levels throughout the organization, but the investment is well worth the effort.   

10. Set aside time for regular constructive feedback 

Feedback is a critical part of effective training and development strategies. Asking employees about their experience and the effectiveness of programs offers helpful insight for improvements and can also inform new training initiatives.

There are several ways to capture feedback about your training and development programs, including:

11. Amend training and development strategies based on employee feedback 

Companies with the best training and development programs operate with frequent, honest feedback. Whenever possible, incorporate employee feedback into training and development improvements. Firsthand experience with the material provides valuable insights, but it also shows employees that you heard and value their input. 

Take the extra step to share the changes you intend to make based on their feedback. And when you cannot use every suggestion, communicate the reasons why. 

12. Measure the outcomes 

An important final step is to measure the outcomes of your training and development strategies. After all, none of these tips are helpful if you don’t know what impact they’ve made on your initiatives. 

A good starting point is to measure employee feedback data against previously set metrics and goals. Evaluate both successes and failures when considering how to improve training and development.

Top Workplaces prioritize their training and development strategies because they know these are among the key drivers of employee engagement. 

Read more: Top Workplaces for Formal Training awards

Read more: Top Workplaces for Professional Development awards

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