train employees

Companies spend billions of dollars each year on training, because they realize the value of training for a productive, engaged workforce. New hire training alone averages $6,000 per employee, as discussed in our article 6 Tips To Use $6000 With New Hire Training. Ongoing training generally costs about $1,200 per employee for U.S. small businesses, according to a Training Industry Report.

That’s a lot of money for any business to expend without a proven gain. You need a strong return on this investment for this outlay. Failed training not only means wasted money but also a disengaged workforce with high turnover. Aligning training resources with the business’ strategy can have positive impacts on employee and business growth.

A strong training program improves engagement, retention, and productivity. Training provides opportunities for growth and keeps employees interested in the company providing that learning and development.

So how do you train employees in a way that will best utilize your resources and improve their skillsets?

1. Build a training culture.

Always begin any training program with a company- or store-wide discussion of its importance. Talk to your employees about the benefits of the training program. Address the question, “What’s in it for me?” Discuss how they will learn new skills that will make them better in their jobs. For example, a restaurant manager could discuss how training will help servers make more tips, be more efficient, and rise to management positions over time.

This will help build the foundation to a culture of training, where employees understand and accept the values of training. If your employees appreciate the benefits of training, they’re more likely to utilize your training offerings.

If you don’t have these conversations and instead throw the training materials at employees, they might feel overwhelmed. They could feel like you’re just adding one more requirement to their list of job duties. This can create resentment towards the training process, and employees don’t engage with or retain the material—they just do the training to check it off. This tends to cause a lowered return on investment, disengaged employees, a stagnant workforce, and a high turnover. This conversation is a great opportunity to ask your employees what kind of trainings they want that will help them in their jobs.

2. Create a list of trainings.

train employeesBuild a list of skills that managers and employees want included in each training. These should be skills needed for the job—not personality traits. Skills could include, “how to bus a table” or “handling conflict resolution,” as opposed to “being a more agreeable employee.”

Each skill should also be related to a concrete goal. For example, the skill of bussing tables could have the goal of “learn to bus a table in under 60 seconds.” This gives something to work towards and measure success. When you can bus a table in under 60 seconds, you’ve learned that skill and can move on to the next.

A training list can be disseminated to workers to keep track of their learnings in an autonomous way. They will take control of their own learning and be accountable for their development in the company. HR can also use this training list to understand and track how employees are doing with regards to productivity.

An example could look as follows:

Task/Skill Requirement Goal Resources Review Notes
Fire Safety Compliance by November 1 To understand where all fire extinguishers are 1. Online video training entitled “Fire Safety 101” Received 78 on fire safety quiz 1
Night Manager Leadership Optional (on Manager Track) To learn the leadership skills required to be a night manager 1. Online videos “Night Manager” 1-10
2. 3-week mentorship
3. 6-week on-the-job training period
Has been connected with night manager for leadership; awaiting training


Notice the columns of this list. The task or skill should be specific. For example, you could create an entire training sheet for “Night Manager Leadership” that includes its own skills and tasks needed to do the job.

The second column shows whether or not the training is required for compliance or optional for growth. The goal of that task helps employees see the value of the training. The resources needed to learn that task will be discussed further below. The performance review shows where an individual is in the training process and how they are being assessed. The notes is an area for employee comments to write down questions for further trainings.

3. Build a resource bank.

how to train employees

You’ll want to offer various training to teach the skills and tasks on the training list. Blended learning has been shown to have the most potent effects on retention and engagement. This type of training blends online and in-person lessons so employees can best learn and apply the material.

Examples for training resources include:

  • Online videos
  • Mobile training apps
  • E-learning
  • Hands-on training
  • Social media discussion
  • Games
  • Mentorships

Online Videos

Online videos are growingly popular because they are the inexpensive to create and implement. Technology is making these trainings better than ever, and employees can learn on-the-go when and where it works for them. Online videos and mobile apps are great visuals that ensure a consistent distribution of information. E-learning is also growing in popularity, now used 28% more often than videos, but it can be expensive to develop.

Hands-On Training

33% of people prefer to experience what they’re learning about. Hands-on training and on-the-job training helps employees apply the information and skills to their day-to-day tasks. This is especially important in customer-facing businesses, where employees need to practice their skills under customer pressure.

Social Media

Social media is growing in popularity as well. This often includes creating a Facebook group or other discussion forum where employees can share tips and host conversations. This helps boost engagement and peer-to-peer learning.


Many people are motivated by competition. Game training helps your employees learn a new skill in a fun, exciting way. It also builds a sense of camaraderie after the training has ended. This can be done in person or online with leaderboards, badges, points, and more.


Mentorships are a strong way to build a network and culture of training. The mentee learns new skills from an experienced mentor, and the mentor also learns how to lead and grows in their own interpersonal skills.

Put It Together

Blending these types of training together is the best way to create a strong process. For example, say you want all your servers in the restaurant to learn how to upsell a dessert on the bill. You could use online videos and hands-on training to teach your servers the skills, language, and steps for upselling dessert. They can share their tips and successes on a social media page, stating what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past. You can then host a competition to see who upsells the most desserts. Those who don’t do as well in the competition may then need a mentor to help further guide their sales techniques.

4. Create a culture of feedback.

train employeesFeedback functions like short bursts of training. These small moments of coaching help to build stronger employees. You should have two types of feedback built into your culture: on-the-go feedback and structured feedback.

On-the-go feedback coaches employees in the moment. It provides praise when they do something well, and it helps correct poor behavior as it happens. Creating this open conversation ensures that there are no “surprises” when performance review time comes. On-the-go feedback is also a great way to have employees train each other, providing a safe space for peer-to-peer growth.

Formal feedback should be seen not as punishment but as a chance for training and growth. Performance reviews are a type of training that works to evaluate those areas that need to be further addressed with each employee. This helps to see where the highest return on investment would be for an individual’s training.

5. Measure your training.

Just as you use performance reviews to measure the growth of employees, you have to do the same for your training. If you want to ensure you are effectively utilizing your resources, you need to constantly be evaluating and improving your training process.

Take a holistic view at employees’ performance reviews to see which skills are consistently growing and struggling across the board. If a number of people aren’t getting better in one area, it’s likely that the training isn’t successful.

You should also ask your employees to give their feedback about your training program through surveys and questionnaires. Your training’s purpose is to boost your employees’ engagement and productivity, so take their voice into consideration.

The Bottom Line

You want training engrained in your culture. Every moment can be used for growth and development if you approach training in the right way. This will ensure that every cent you spend on formal trainings is backed by a culture of employees eager to learn and grow in your company. Workers then feel in control over their training and development, so they become more engaged with their work and the company.

Keep this autonomous ball rolling with Forge. Allow your employees to create their own schedules to ensure they are learning and working when it’s best for them! Sign up for an Employer Forge account now!


Photo Images: -training-day-2- december /training/