Do your new (or existing) employees have a clear path ahead of them? Many employees across various industries face uncertainty in their initial months of work in the sense that they often don’t receive sufficient initial training or support, and then receive little in the way of continuous learning thereafter. A whopping 66% of employees are not given any training whatsoever.
Or perhaps you have a comprehensive employee onboarding plan, but employees are largely left to their own devices after their first few weeks – bar a few pieces of mandatory compliance training here and there.
Both approaches go against best practice guidelines . One way you can avoid falling victim to the common scenarios outlined above is to devise an annual training and development plan.
And with job-hopping on the rise, and poor employee training listed as a big grievance to employees, there’s no time like the present to buckle down and get a cohesive plan together.
But how? This can seem an especially daunting task, insurmountable even, particularly if you’re operating in a team of one and the responsibility falls on your shoulders alone.
Planning and launching a training strategy, particularly a longer-term one, is no small feat - what do people need to know now? What might they need to know in the future? Should you opt for in-person or online? If online, what tool should you use for delivery? How can you incentivize them to engage with the material you’ve created?
This is complicated by the fact that training (to be effective) is never one size fits all and that as much as you plan, there will inevitably be pivots and changes and learning needs that arise that you did not originally account for.
Read on for 6 simple steps to build an effective training plan for your employees, and download our free employee training plan template for you to get started.
- Why do I need a training and development plan?
- 6 steps to build your annual training plan
- Annual training plan template
Why do I need an employee training and development plan?
First things first, let’s delve a little deeper into the importance of an employee training and development plan. All employees need access to certain information to enable them to excel in their role - ongoing sales and product knowledge training for retail associates, customer experience training for employees in customer-facing roles, manual handling and host of other safety-related training for manufacturing, logistics, construction and warehouse employees, onboarding training for all new or seasonal intakes of staff.
Frontline workers in particular tend to have jobs which mean they are informationally distanced from HQ (driving trucks, working in warehouses, serving customers on the store floor, delivering food or packages), so their need for knowledge is all the more acute. Often without any direct or straightforward line of contact to someone who can elaborate or aid them, they are left to either turn to peers or figure it out themselves.
Health and safety is of particular concern for roles like these, given the risk they entail and the fact that there is not always in-person resource for troubleshooting. In any case, clear and consistent safety training should be administered as a preventative measure, before accidents have the opportunity to arise.
Similar is customer service training. At the root of quality customer service is knowledge. Knowledge on new products, knowledge on how to handle difficult customer interactions. So you must ensure that all employees have received – and continue to receive – sufficient training to execute in-person interactions masterfully. They also need to be kept in the loop about all company policy updates, from brand ethos to the simple daily dos and don’ts. Your company’s reputation, ability to turn a profit, secure repeat business, hangs in the balance.
Ultimately, you want your employees to grow with the company. If you overload them with training in the first few weeks and then simply leave them to it, you won’t see continuous progress – nor will they feel supported in their role. Training is a differentiator for a business - something that makes employees more inclined to stick with you over the next company - 70% of employees would consider leaving their current job in favor of a company that prioritized training and development.
In contrast, with an effective training and development plan in place, you stand to improve employee retention, safety and performance. Employees will feel empowered to excel in their role which in turn motivates their desire to stay where they are, and keep performing well, as they’re reaping direct reward from it. It’s a virtuous cycle - and it’s a chain reaction that’s lit by delivery of engaging, relevant training.
6 steps to build your annual training plan
1. Identify knowledge gaps
The first step is self-explanatory: you need to know your team’s training needs in order to deliver training that’s relevant and that they will engage with. If you’re releasing compulsory training on things you think employees need to know about, and it does not address knowledge gaps, it will come across as superfluous and impact your training engagement rates. Carry out a thorough training needs analysis.
How best to do this depends on a few factors, one being the size of your workforce. When dealing with large workforces, administering Pulse Surveys to identify what people want to know about can be effective. Analyzing trends in responses will then give you insight into areas of weakness around which you can thematically build training. This works as it means training is personalized - crafted in response to real needs, heightening its resonance and in turn, employees’ reception of it.
Identifying what’s working well – and what isn’t – will help you to shape your annual training plan format, and tailor it to real, identified needs. The bonus to Pulse Surveys being used within a training needs analysis, is that employees appreciate their being consulted - when empowered with a voice, employees are 4x more likely to perform at their very best.
2. Align training with company goals & values
When considering learning objectives for your employees, ensure that they align with the broader organizational objectives. As much as it’s important to create training that employees are asking for, there will be things you want them to know that they wouldn’t necessarily think to request.
One of these things are your company’s goals, values, vision and mission. These should underpin all learning objectives, and employees should be bought in on them - if they don’t know what your company does differently, better, or its overarching goals, you can’t hope they’re helping to steer the business towards them in their daily work.
3. Set quarterly milestones
Next up, let’s create a clear structure for the year. We advise you to divide the annual learning journey into quarters, prioritizing specific focus areas for each period. This approach helps with managing resources and content development, whilst giving you space to adapt to the ebb and flow of company life.
Following each milestone, you should incorporate clear metrics and evaluation methods, allowing you to assess the effectiveness of each training module – whilst also giving employees the opportunity to give regular feedback. You can then refine your strategy if necessary – remember, this is a learning curve for everyone, not just your employees.
You want to ensure that your employees’ learning journey remains relevant and effective throughout the year, and a clear segmented plan will guarantee this.
4. Add value beyond the need-to-know
While we’re aware this is a training and development plan for the workplace, it’s always useful to upskill your employees beyond their current role with the company. In fact, doing so benefits both the employee and the business.
From an employee perspective, it’s what they want. 74% of people are willing to learn new skills, and ‘upskilling’ is among the top 5 priorities of today’s workforce when it comes to feeling secure. And while more skills means more workplace opportunity, it also means opportunity outside of work. For example, providing financial education to your employees could help them diversify their revenue stream and provide an extra layer of security.
For businesses, training beyond the job is a great way to benefit the business indirectly, by first benefitting employees - showing genuine care in developing their skills beyond the remit of their role. This doubly applies to frontline roles where workers operate in isolation, or there’s any sort of geographical or physical disconnect between worker and HQ - a delivery driver for instance lacks the loyalty-by-emotional connection that their peer working in a sorting facility, among others completing similar tasks, does.
Simply put - add a sprinkling of ‘selfless’ (i.e. non-directly business beneficial) training into your plan and you stand to win the employer popularity contest.
5. Build excitement internally
It’s no exaggeration to say that successfully launching a training initiative requires a carefully considered and constructed Marketing plan. And with any Marketing plan, you need to know what your messaging is, and which channels you’re going to use to reach your target audience.
The channels you opt for will be workforce-dependent. Maybe to raise awareness you’ll need to do some print marketing - flyers handed out, or postering in communal areas. Add a QR code to build curiosity - have the QR take them to an introductory lesson.
One thing our clients find effective is to leverage internal voices to promote the rollout of new training—influencer marketing if you will. In fact, 70% of employees are more likely to trust the information they receive from their colleagues than from the company’s official channel.
Involve anyone you can—be it C-suite to high performers in your location, enlist the influence of individuals who naturally possess enthusiasm and encourage participation. What does this look like? It could be a best practice lesson led by a star employee in an area of interest to other employees, e.g. where they share how they blew their sales targets out of the water.
It could be a message from the CEO that explains why training is being rolled out in this manner, and what they stand to gain from participation (remember: with any training, always address the ‘what’s in it for me?’).
It’s not just about employees however, you may need buy-in from other staff. Other staff who might be helping you craft training, taking ownership of training, or who you’ll be reporting the impact of training to. Nevertheless, the same rules apply - identify your maximum impact channels and then optimize your messaging.
6. Appeal to your audience with content
Not all content is created equal. It’s no good creating training that’s hyper-relevant if the content itself is not delivered in a format that engages. By that, we mean training that people want to complete without top-down pressure or the use of extrinsic, carrot-on-stick motivation to do so. To keep lesson engagement and completion rates high, content needs to be packaged in a way that is palatable to the modern learner.
And what exactly is the modern learners’ criteria? With an average attention span of 8 seconds, the modern learner isn’t built for traditional long-format videos that can’t be skipped and require no learner participation. Instead, microlearning should be utilized—think videos only a few minutes in length that include quizzes to boost engagement. Not only does microlearning increase knowledge retention (80%) and engagement, it’s also what your workers want.
Equally important as the content itself is how it’s delivered. The modern learner prefers utilizing technology they engage with on a daily basis, making smartphones the ideal learning tool. Considering the average user spends over 3 hours a day on their phone, it only makes sense to leverage mobile learning to effectively train your workforce.
Some top tips to follow include: make sure all content is end user (i.e. learner) centric, add interactivity with short-form video, simulation-based training, GIFs, always include clear objectives and explanations, follow the principles of microlearning, ensure knowledge has the chance to be reinforced by including a quiz, ensure variety in your media and activities – and don’t forget those all-important summaries and checklists at the end.
And if you’re really conscious of nailing it the first time around - why not test your training content on a small pilot group of managers and learners, and use their feedback to refine components like lesson media, ordering, or quiz questions? Practice makes perfect!
7. Use an annual training plan template
We’re well aware of just how overwhelming it can be to have to distil the above into a written-up, annual corporate training plan that becomes your company’s single source of truth for your employee training plan - so as they say on daytime TV... Here’s one we made earlier!
Turn your training goals into a reality and put structure to your strategy with our yearly training plan template.
To get started, download the free training plan template, select ‘make a copy’ to create your own, customizable version in Google Sheets. Don’t use GSheets? Export it as an .xslx file and import it into Excel.
Ready to optimize your employee training? eduMe is the platform of choice for your frontline workforce!
By seamlessly integrating into your existing worktools, eduMe makes it easy for businesses to deliver engaging content and take their training to the next level. By partnering with us, companies are experiencing a plethora of benefits, including a 26% reduction in workplace injuries and a 79% training engagement rate.
Got any questions? Just get in touch below!