A Guide to Employee Training and Development Programs

High-quality employee training and development programs strengthen employee skills and help your company keep up with rapid growth and technology. 

Building training and development programs can be challenging. It requires an investment in time, effort, and resources. But don’t underestimate the value of employee training and development. Successful efforts pay dividends — for your employees and the company too. High-performing top workplaces know this, and they do it well. 

Let’s take a closer look at employee training and development, its processes and strategies, roles and responsibilities, and suggestions for creating a successful program for your organization. 

What is employee training and development? 

Employee training and development programs are opportunities for employees to develop skills and learn new information. It helps employees perform better in their current roles while preparing them for future success. Examples include:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Technology training
  • Informal learning
  • Self-directed learning
  • Personal development time
  • Experiential learning

Companies rely on training and development to advance their employees’ growth and meet business goals. It’s important to identify business impacts, analyze skill gaps, layer the appropriate training methods, and consistently measure effectiveness.  

Learn more: How to future-proof your business

Differences between training and development

Training opportunities improve an employee’s performance in their current role, while development opportunities prepare employees for future responsibilities. The most successful companies provide equal opportunities for both training and development.  

Training is:

  • Offered in the short term 
  • Geared toward individual performance 
  • Focused on the present job 
  • Specific and skill-focused.  

Development is:

  • A long-term initiative
  • Preparing employees for future challenges 
  • Focused on the future career 
  • Broad and conceptual. 


Why is training & development important? 

Employee training and development is essential for sustainable business success. A lack of training and development is one reason why employees quit. Top Workplaces understand that continuous training and development programs improve retention and reduce hiring costs.  

Employee retention and satisfaction increase with training and development. Companies with higher levels of successful training and development programs keep their employees around longer and teach them how to be strong leaders.  


Objectives and benefits of training and development 

Some primary objectives and benefits of training and development include:  

  • Improve employee retention: Employees who feel supported and encouraged to grow are less likely to leave.
  • Increase internal mobility: Growth from within happens when people are encouraged to keep learning. 
  • Develop leaders: Professional growth opportunities are essential to long-term success. 
  • Promote employee empowerment: Employees have the skills and confidence to make decisions.  
  • Improve employee engagement: Supporting employee growth enables them to bring their best to work each day. 
  • Grow workplace relationships: Learning with others encourages coworkers to bond. 
  • Spark innovation: Introducing employees to new processes, technology, and analysis invites new ideas and growth.  
  • Attract top talent: Job candidates seek opportunities for continued education and development. 


Types of employee training & development 

Because every company is unique, employee training and development isn’t a one-size-fits-all initiative. There are many training and development types, so choosing programs that will give your company the highest rewards is essential.  

Training and development programs: 

  • Leadership training improves communication skills, project management, business strategy, HR procedures, and people management. 
  • Technical training builds new skills and introduces new processes and technologies.  
  • Product training builds knowledge of offerings and services to better support customers. 
  • Anti-bias and DE&I training helps to raise awareness and support a healthy workplace culture.   
  • Professional development provides education and training for skill building and career advancement. 
  • Team training focuses on dynamics, collaboration, and other soft skills needed to achieve synergy.  
  • Job rotations introduce new skills, promote collaboration, and exposure to future internal job opportunities.  


Stages of the training and development process 

Employee training and development is a process that can be broken into five basic stages: 

  1. Assess: Determine learning needs and goals, and identify available resources.
  2. Motivate: Inspire employees to approach learning with an open mind.
  3. Design: Consider the audience and resources needed for a successful program. 
  4. Deliver: Engage with learners and provide methods that encourage retention and application. 
  5. Evaluate: Measure if training objectives are achieved.  


Examples of employee training & development strategies 

There are many different strategies available for training and development programs. How do your employees learn best? Ask them. Listening to employee feedback is a great way to determine which employee training and development strategies will be most successful. Here are a few options to consider:  

  • Online, computer-based training allows employees to learn at their own pace and at a convenient time. 
  • Simulations emulate real-world scenarios to strengthen problem-solving skills.  
  • Microlearning sessions are frequent, on-demand, quick-learning opportunities. 
  • Mentoring and coaching allow employees to connect, enhance leadership skills, and empower coworkers.  
  • Lectures and presentations effectively deliver information to a large group of people. 
  • Case studies illustrate how other companies achieve success and show employees customer impact.  
  • Audiovisual training utilizes sound and sight to show realistic simulations and uniformly teach new information. 
  • Onboarding training orients new hires, sets expectations, and shortens the learning curve.  


Training and development for small businesses 

While training and development benefits all companies, this is especially true for small businesses: 

  • Reduced turnover
  • Increased employee autonomy
  • Improved efficiency
  • Better employee morale

Much like the employee training and development strategies practiced at larger companies, start with a solid understanding of the company’s goals and objectives. 

Because training and development requires multiple resources, special attention should be paid to the assessment phase of program implementation. This will ensure that the investment is a worthwhile initiative for small businesses. 


Strategies to improve employee training and development programs 

The final steps in the training and development process are measuring effectiveness and documenting how to make improvements. The training and development cycle should constantly move from actual company training to measuring success and readjusting goals.  

Here are several ways to improve training and development: 

  • Make learning flexible and accessible for all remote workers and in-office teams. 
  • Motivate managers to invest their time in employee development.
  • Offer a range of programs serving all different learning preferences. 
  • Survey employees to assess employee needs.  
  • Evaluate company needs and identify employee learning gaps.  
  • Align with the business and management’s operating goals.
  • Benchmark against the competition. 
  • Incorporate training and professional development into the company culture. 
  • Measure results and iterate!


Who should be involved in training and development 

While many throughout the company are involved in training and development programs, managers are the most significant catalyst. As coaches and mentors, their responsibility is to advocate for employees, provide feedback, troubleshoot, and offer guidance.  

Involving managers in employee training and development programs fosters a learning culture. They can also relay employee needs to senior leadership. When managers aren’t present in the process, it causes a clog in the flow of information. 


Employer recognition awards for excellent training and development 

Top Workplaces offers employer recognition awards for companies with the best training and development programs. Based on feedback captured through a research-backed employee engagement survey, the awards are an accurate and authentic indication of companies prioritizing employee growth.  

See the Top Workplaces for Formal Training award

See the Top Workplaces for Professional Development award


If your company excels at employee training and development, get recognized for it! Nominate your organization for Top Workplaces, the employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.        


Get Recognized as a Top Workplace!

Enter your email address to nominate your organization.