Jobs today tend to come with office perks. Free avocado toast, sleep stations, and ping-pong tables are only some of the things employers offer nowadays. Why? Because Millennials are becoming the major proportion of our workforce, and these perks keep them happy. But are they happy enough?
According to Gallup, employees today care deeply about their growth and development. In fact, learning opportunities are one of the most important factors employees consider when applying for a job (yes, more important than avocado toast). This means that companies need to look at new ways to engage their workplace. Enter employee-led training.
What is employee-led training?
Do you know what a bored workforce looks like? It’s a room full of employees watching the clock, maybe passing the time by creating a playlist for the road trip they’ll be taking over the weekend. Sounds depressing? Well, effective employee-led training and development strategies eliminate all of this.
Employee-led training focuses on the skills and help employees need, and it’s built around those needs. Employees get to forge their own learning path and tackle training content at their own pace and in their own time. It’s a modern learning style that balances employees’ development needs with the strategic objectives of the company.
An employee-led training program empowers employees to develop their skills and reach their goals, while also helping employers to increase and maintain workforce quality. Plus, in an age where teams are geographically dispersed and culturally diversified, employee-led training is more engaging and convenient.
How to implement a powerful employee-led training program
You understand the importance of training employees, and you know how important employee-led training is for your company. Now it’s time to get you started on developing your training program. It’s all possible in just 5 steps.
1. Define your business objectives
If you’re like any other training professional, you’re probably hyped about the training sessions. But before you start gathering your employees in a room for a two-hour workshop, take a step back to determine the company’s goals. After all, training is an investment that needs to pay a return.
So, ask yourself what your training should set out to achieve. Are you looking to halve production time? Or perhaps increase your customer base? Once you know the answer, set out your short, medium, and long-term objectives clearly. Identifying these will help you decide on the type of training your business should focus on.
2. Ask your employees what they need
An employee-led learning and development plan only works if you actually include the employee. So, why not take the guesswork out of training and simply ask employees for their input? Staff is your eyes and ears on the floor, so they’ll be the first to know which skills gaps are putting a damper on their performance.
Use performance review conversations and company-wide surveys as platforms for employees to share their needs. A good old-fashioned idea submission box in the cafeteria tends to work well, too. By encouraging staff to share ideas for training, you’ll show them that the company appreciates them and cares about their learning needs. In turn, you can expect improved loyalty and retention.
3. Get to know your audience
The goal of a training session is to have employees learn the material in a way that is relatable to them, and have them immediately apply what they’ve learned in the workplace. Understand that you’ll encounter various experience levels, demographics, and learning motivations. Conducting an audience audit before the training design process will help you determine which training approach will work best for your audience.
Run the audit using a survey or interviews. Whichever method you use, the following questions should be answered:
- Subject matter expertise: How many years of experience do they have within their respective departments?
- Attitude: How open are they to learning new techniques or procedures on the job? Is this person a high performer within the company? How innovative are they when it comes to problem-solving?
- Demographic: What percentage of them are within a certain age group?
- Systems: What is their experience level when it comes to technology? How quickly can they adapt to new systems/technology?
- Environment: What are their working hours like?
4. Find the right training tools for the job
Now that you’ve identified which skills need to be developed for the mutual benefit of employer and employees, it’s time to determine the training tools, strategies, and styles that will make your program engaging.
If you thought that a two-hour session in a traditional classroom setting (with free snacks) will meet all the criteria, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Because even the thought of free snacks won’t cut it for most employees. So, instead of instructor-led training, try a format that allows employees to become the instructors of their own learning.
According to the 2018 LinkedIn Learning report, online learning solutions seem to work best in the modern-day workplace. The same research also reports that nearly 60% of employees prefer a self-paced learning environment.
Online content allows you to grab your employees’ attention by presenting the training material in a fun and engaging way (videos, quizzes, etc.), but also highlights the information that’s most important. With online learning, employees can access the information wherever they are and without interrupting their workday.
5. Plan your evaluation methods
While tests tend to make most people shake in their shoes, making sure that you can successfully record and measure training outcomes is a vital step in employee-led training implementation. This is commonly called training evaluation.
You need to know whether training is teaching employees the knowledge and skills it set out to teach them. You also need to know whether or not employee performance is improving because of it. So use an online pre- and post- assessment to conduct your evaluation.
Kirkpatrick’s training evaluation model is effective when it comes to analyzing learning objectives. It consists of four levels of evaluation:
- Reaction: Observe how engaged they were during the training sessions. Also, take a look at how they contributed during the session. This provides you with an insight into how effective the material was.
- Learning: This level measures how well they’re able to apply what they’ve learned in the workplace. Measure this against the learning objectives. Get input from supervisors who can provide you with an overview of what the employee was like before training, and compare to what they’re like now.
- Behavior: Having the supervisor on hand will be helpful here as well. Along with the manager, observe the employees’ behavior pre and post-training. Determine how confident they are in their abilities to perform in the workplace.
- Results: This means looking at your company as a whole to determine whether the training has increased the ROI or if it’s too time consuming.
Many companies implement training because it’s the trendy thing to do. But to achieve meaningful results for the company and its employees, training should involve staff in the learning process. Employee-led training empowers employees to learn what they need, when they need it, and at a pace that they’re comfortable with.
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