It costs nearly $6,000 to train one new employee. This cost comes from onboarding costs, training materials, paid-time-training, and more.

You need to turn that $6,000 into a strong return on investment in both the short-term and the long-term. That means creating new hire training practices that ensure fruitful success for each person that walks through y door.our

What do you want to get from a successful training program?

The best employees don’t just clock in, check off their daily tasks, and go home. They innovate and consistently learn. They figure out new ways to do the job successfully. They take the job description and make it their own.

But in order to develop motivated, engaged employees willing to go the extra mile, you need to first coach them through the first few steps of that race.

Your training program should include:

  • the responsibilities, roles, and best practices of their new job.
  • your company mission and culture, so new hires can be fully engrossed in the culture and work towards the betterment of the company overall.
  • a profile of your customer, so they know how to deliver the best service.
  • the steps to success, so they see a clear line of career growth within your company.

“Onboarding” is the first day or week of introducing the new hire to the company. After initial onboarding, the real training begins. Good training takes weeks or months to fully form the employee you want working for you. Training is a process that allows new hires to learn at their own pace and become confident in their job and the company.

So how can you ensure that this training process is successful?

1. Make a checklist.

When you first start the training process, you should provide a checklist of necessary learnings. This gives your new hire a guide to what they need to learn and understand in order to be successful and effective in their role. Make the list specific, goal-oriented, and time-based. What should they know or have accomplished after a month, three months, or six months?

This checklist could include:

  • Specific people that they should meet (include a section for notes so they can easily remember that person)
  • Tasks (start small, like clean the dishes; then get bigger, like bring one new customer into the restaurant)
  • Behaviors (often measured through tasks)
  • Notes section (where they can write what they’ve learned)
  • Measurement (so they can self-evaluate as they go along)
  • Questions (a place where they can write down the questions they need answered to be successful)

You can later use this checklist as a measurement metric. You can see how well that individual performed and where they still need to grow. You can also analyze all of your new hires’ checklists to see where most trainees often struggle. This can give you better insight into how to develop your training process for future new hires.

2. Utilize blended learning.

Blend in-person training with online and in-classroom training. Online and classroom trainings are a great way to present necessary information about the tasks of the job and the skills needed for that job. However, many companies make the mistake of stopping there. Although the information has been presented, it hasn’t been implemented.

Learning is best understood and retained when followed-up with hands-on training or assessments. In fact, a 2013 Skillsoft survey found that 33% of surveyed workers preferred hands-on training. This sort of hands-on practice allows trainees to try the new skill in a controlled environment, where it’s okay to make mistakes and attempt new processes. This creates a level of comfort and engagement while also imprinting the information in their brain.

You can also implement hands-on training through role-plays and practical scenarios in your online or classroom training. You should try to teach new skills or tasks before throwing a new hire on the job; they could get flustered or stressed, and they are more likely to make mistakes. Spend the time teaching the information and giving time and opportunities to apply that new knowledge.

3. Incorporate mentorships and networking.

The best way to use hands-on training on the job is through mentorships. Pair a new hire with an experienced employee for “shadow shifts.” This allows the trainee to watch firsthand necessary skills and tasks being implemented; this has a higher rate of retention that classroom-based learnings. The mentor can share their expertise, strengths, and tips with the new hire to create a deeper understanding.

In addition, this helps your employees build a network of connections. Having a mentor gives them access to the “inner workings” of the business right from the get-go. It makes them feel welcomed into and comfortable with the culture. Networks are especially crucial in restaurant and store settings, because everyone has to work together to keep the customer happy. Building partnerships behind the scenes will make for a happier work environment and improved customer service.

Hint: Invite employees to be mentors. Don’t force a mentorship on any of your current employees (except the new hires, who should have a mentor). If you pair a trainee with a mentor who doesn’t want to be a mentor, the new hire will likely have a poor training experience. In addition, your employees might feel overworked and disengaged. Instead, work to create a culture of networking and connections. This will help encourage your employees to want to mentor new hires, because it’s a natural part of the success of your business.

4. Do rotational shift training.

You’ve just hired a new hostess. You’ve given her a checklist of what she should accomplish; you’ve presented her information in a hands-on way; and you’ve assigned her a mentor. That’s great—she’s going to be a pro-hostess. But she won’t know much outside of her hostess stand bubble. She’ll have a very narrow view of her job rather than a holistic view of the business operations overall.

In the first few weeks on the job, assign the new hire to every type of shift in the restaurant (unless that shift takes special skills or has legal concerns attached). This helps the new hire obtain a more global viewpoint, and they’ll better understand and appreciate what their coworkers are doing. It also helps them make contacts outside of their own role, which is vital to a connected, cohesive working environment.

Have your hostess serve for two shifts, wash the dishes for one, bus tables for another. She should shadow a shift manager, so she can see the other side of operations and better understand how she could move up in the company. She can even do a shift in the early morning when the food truck makes their delivery. Remember that her training and understanding of the overall company directly influences the customer.

5. Create open lines of communication.

Don’t throw new hires into open water without a life jacket. Provide your trainees with a list of resources they will need to get the job done. Tell them how they can contact you or others in a bind. One of the most stressful parts of a new job is an unhappy customer. At the beginning, they may not know how to handle the situation on their own. This in turn makes the customer even more upset. This can easily be solved by opening the lines of communication, where your new hires have people they can always call upon for quick, supportive help.

Never chastise your employees for not knowing how to handle a situation, as this will discourage them from asking for help in the future (and thus, they’ll never get better). Instead, help them get through the situation at the moment; then, after the fact, have an open conversation about what happened, what could have gone better, and what they did right.

Most importantly, be available to your new hires. Don’t just have an open door policy. This implies that they can come talk to you whenever they need to. While that’s important, you should also go to them. Check in with them and offer feedback. Schedule time to sit down and talk to them about how their training is going; in the beginning, this should be weekly, but as training progresses you can lengthen the time between discussions. Nevertheless, you should always offer and encourage opportunities for communication.

6. Do a post-training evaluation.

After all the items on the checklist are checked off, it’s time to evaluate. Although it’s important to see where your new hire stands, it’s equally as important to determine how successful your training program was overall. This can help you improve the process for future new hires, so you always better your training ROI and improve your talent pool.

What did the new hire learn? Where do they feel most comfortable now? Where do they still feel they are lacking? What additional learnings would they need to excel in their role?

 

Training is never really over. In an upcoming article, we will discuss training your current employees for continuous growth and success.