5 Employee Training Fails and How to Avoid Them
Employee training accounts for billions of dollars a year. So why do companies keep derailing training with the same mistakes?
In 2016 alone, U.S. companies spent a total of $70.65 billion on training, according to Training Magazine.
As HR leaders and training managers narrow in on new employee skills and digital capabilities they want to cultivate in their workforce, investment in training will continue to rise.
Yet employee training initiatives often fall short of their potential, despite companies’ best efforts. Rather than waste valuable resources on an incomplete or subpar program, make sure your training is worth what you’re putting into it.
Let’s go over five common reasons employee training fails and how to avoid them.
1. Taking the old-school approach
Traditional methods of training like a classroom, instruction manual, or webinar are time consuming and make it difficult for employees to retain information. They also hinder employee productivity by requiring staff to pause their work in order to complete training.
According to the same above report by Training Magazine, companies are beginning to turn away from classroom training.
The number of hours of instructor-led classroom training decreased from 46 percent (2015) to 41 percent (2016) in a year. This old-school approach is slowly losing popularity as more digitally adept routes, like contextual learning, are paving the way forward.
While classroom training might still be part of the process, it’s important not to solely rely on this approach. Instead, the ideal approach is a digital learning tool that enables employees to learn and complete tasks at the same time.
Today, virtually all aspects of the modern employee’s job exist online. As they undergo digital transformation, it is not uncommon for companies to adopt multiple enterprise platforms. While these tools can be valuable, your employees will not be able to use them in a meaningful way without adequate training.
Old school training methods are just not equipped for this scenario. Instead look for onscreen guidance platforms that deliver real-time support. With a digital learning solution, employees can gain proficiency on new software platforms while they learn the ropes.
2. Failing to take different learning styles into account
There is a reason that lectures still exist as a style of learning: it works for some people. But, for many people, it’s nearly impossible to retain information in this format.
Think about the different types of learners that you’ll encounter with your training. There are the ones who like to listen, the ones who like to discuss and the ones who just want to hit the ground running and make any necessary adjustments along the way.
All of these learning styles seem so different, but it is important to find a way to factor all of them into your training plan so that nobody is left behind.
3. Lack of incentives
Think back to high school: what motivated you to do well in class? For most of us, it was to earn good grades so we could get into a good college.
The promise of a payoff motivated us to work hard in school. The same goes for employee training. If employees have an incentive to learn the information necessary to do more than complete the basics of their job, they will become more engaged members of the team.
Different incentives work for different people, but consider integrating various levels of engagement with your training plan.
For example, you can provide certification once an employee completes a training module. Or, a longer-term approach: offer guidelines on career progression within the company. If an employee learns a certain amount or completes a particular number of projects, they can be considered for a promotion.
Keep employees engaged by offering incentives to be continual learners.
4. Not providing ongoing support
Failing to provide continual support is one of the most easily overlooked employee training fail. After the initial training is complete, employees still require guidance and support to apply their new knowledge effectively. Failing to provide ongoing support is detrimental to a learner’s development and retention.
Ongoing reinforcement is the only way to prevent the “forgetting curve.”
To fix this, begin by splitting up the training over multiple days, or even weeks. You cannot expect employees to learn everything in one shot — they will need time to learn, practice and revisit the information.
As time goes on and the official training is complete, make it easy for employees to find the information again. Many training managers have realized the benefits of a self-service approach. This could include a knowledge base, a chatbot, or an integrated digital help menu. Assigning employees a go-to person to whom they can ask questions is also valuable.
5. Having an unclear training strategy
Along with incentives to finish the training, employees and training managers should be aligned with a clear strategy for what the training will accomplish.
Without a strategy, training can become disorganized and disjointed. Before beginning any lessons, provide the objectives for both the trainees and the company. What will the employees get out of the training? How does this training support the company’s overall goals?
When you think about how much your company invests in employee training, the need to avoid these common employee training fails is clear. Employees and trainers must understand the training objectives, have the resources to achieve them, and the motivation to embrace new training models.