Strategic and purposeful employee training is foundational to growth for all businesses.
That’s not just conjecture, either: As Valamis found in 2020, 93% of C-level agreed that ongoing learning is critical to growth. What’s more, 77% of respondents said that continually updating the knowledge and skills of employees is either very or extremely important to future success.
And that makes sense:
If you’re not constantly focused on employee growth and organizational development, your company is going to stagnate — and fall well behind your competition.
As important as employee training is, you need to be sure you’re covering everything you need to fully enable your team for success. Here, we’ll be taking a look at the main types of employee training programs offered by successful, growing businesses today.
Why a Varied Approach to Employee Training Matters
Adopting a varied approach to employee training is essential due to the diverse circumstances and requirements of an organization.
This more flexible approach ensures all training initiatives are tailored to meet specific expectations, resources, and job roles — in turn enhancing engagement and practical application of learned skills.
Distinguishing between relatively similar training types (e.g., upskilling and reskilling) reinforces the above, helping trainers really home in on the most effective strategies and tactics to employ when developing a certain training.
Learn more about the most effective training methods used by today’s most successful companies.
Fully understanding the different types of employee training also helps you categorize each training session you develop. That way, you can be sure you’re checking all the boxes — and, more importantly, filling in all the gaps — as needed over time.
Lastly, it allows you to inject crucial processes into your training initiatives appropriately and strategically. For example, knowing beforehand where knowledge management “fits” into employee onboarding, product training, and other specific training types allows you to create these sessions with KM in mind.
Foundational Employee Training
We’ll start by discussing the four foundational training experiences that all employees typically undergo during their tenure with an organization:
- Orientation training
- Employee onboarding
- Compliance training
- Safety and emergency preparedness training
What is Employee Orientation?
Employee orientation training refers to the initial process of immersing new hires in your company’s culture and values — and familiarizing them with your team’s policies and procedures.
(It’s also when new hires and administrators fill out a bunch of paperwork. Fun stuff.)
During orientation, your new employees will be introduced to your organizational structure, their specific roles and duties, and how they fit into the picture. While role-specific training is reserved for employee onboarding, the goal here is for new hires to get a clear idea of how the company operates in full.
Why is Employee Orientation Training Important?
- Provides clear direction from the start — and avoids wasting precious time and resources getting them started
- Improves engagement and morale by providing hands-on support from the onset — reducing immediate churn in the process
- Ensures new hires have info and equipment needed to function in their new role
Challenges of Employee Orientation Training
- New hires can easily become overwhelmed by the amount of information they’re given, the amount of paperwork they need to fill out, and the general newness of their situation.
- Administrative tasks are similarly time- and resource-consuming for your team, especially if asynchronous communications aren’t streamlined.
- Becoming immersed in company culture, etc. isn’t something that happens overnight or on paper. It takes time and effort on all sides for new hires to become a “true” member of the team.
Employee Orientation Training Best Practices
- Showcase your company’s vision and values with every engagement — both through intentional presentations and via your approach and actions.
- Stagger the delivery of information and tasks, and provide checkpoints to help your new employees avoid immediate burnout.
- Tailor the experience appropriately for different roles, while keeping the foundational aspects of it universal to all new hires. Be dynamic, but be sure to check all the necessary boxes.
Employee Onboarding Training
What is Employee Onboarding Training?
Onboarding training refers to the more comprehensive, long-term process new hires go through as they become fully active in their new position.
This process includes:
- Communication of company, team, and employee goals, along with relevant KPIs
- Delivery of vital company information, such as info on their products, services, and clientele
- Role- and task-specific training sessions, occurring live or asynchronously, in-person or remotely.
This more long-term process, which is often broken into 30-60-90 days, prepares new hires to ramp up to full productivity as quickly as possible — while also acknowledging the time and effort it takes to do so. Similarly, it improves the employee onboarding process by providing new hires the time needed to acclimate to the company culture and the other more intangible aspects of their job.
Why is Employee Onboarding Training Important?
- Ensures new hires have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to excel in their position and contribute to the company as expected
- Facilitates the development of important relationships between new and existing employees that help immerse new hires in team culture — and aid in professional development.
- Allows new hires and their managers the opportunity to set long-term developmental goals, and to set out potential career paths for driven employees.
Challenges of Employee Onboarding Training
- Keeping new hires engaged and motivated, both in the short- and long-term — especially when onboarding remote employees
- Monitoring employee progress and otherwise staying close at-hand without overwhelming your new hires
- Providing a consistent onboarding experience to all new hires, while tailoring most of the “nitty-gritty” parts of it for specific roles (and for individual learners)
Employee Onboarding Training Best Practices
- Create a structured yet flexible onboarding program and experience that ensures your employees make steady progress, while also allowing them to engage with training materials as they’re most comfortable.
- Assign mentors and/or buddies to new hires to support them in various ways throughout onboarding. Aim to create matches that will work well together both interpersonally and practically.
- Make use of a knowledge base to provide new hires open access to all organizational knowledge content to keep them informed and to encourage self-driven exploration.
What is Compliance Training?
Compliance training refers to any program designed to educate employees on the laws, regulations, and policies that dictate their day-to-day operations and responsibilities.
Some of the key areas compliance training is most focused on include:
- Workplace safety
- Anti-harassment laws
- Data protection and privacy laws
The goal of compliance training is to ensure all employees understand and comply with all legal standards and ethical practices relevant to their roles. Overall, it aims to keep individual employees and the company as a whole operating above board at all times.
Why is Compliance Training Important
- Is often legally mandated for companies operating in specific jurisdictions — and failure to adhere can lead to major fines, penalties, and other legal issues for all involved parties.
- Promotes and encourages ethical conduct from all employees. In addition to the operational benefits of this, it builds camaraderie and strengthens the culture of your organization.
- Reduces the risk of workplace incidents and emergency situations — while also providing the best course of action to take when things go wrong.
Challenges of Compliance Training
- Creating compliance training that keeps employees engaged, especially on complex or dry regulatory topics — or when the relevance of the topic may not be immediately seen
- Developing and delivering training that’s up-to-date with current laws and regulations. Similarly, keeping all existing training sessions up-to-date as laws change over time.
- Ensuring employees adhere to correct regulatory practices after completing the necessary training sessions.
Compliance Training Best Practices
- Go beyond the bare minimum required for compliance to ensure the material sticks. Develop interactive experiences that simulate real-life scenarios that require employees to act within compliance.
- Assess learner engagement, performance, and completion results to identify where further training may be needed to ensure compliance.
- Provide compliance training regularly and routinely. Offer refresher courses beyond what’s required by law so your employees have a rolling opportunity to stay current.
Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training
What is Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training?
Safety and emergency training prepares employees to respond effectively to workplace hazards, accidents, and emergency situations.
(Note: Safety training is often a part of compliance training, but it may or may not be required by law. Still, employees of all teams large and small should undergo appropriate training to keep them and their colleagues safe.)
Safety training covers a wide range of topics, including:
- First aid
- Fire safety
- Evacuation and lockdown procedures
As necessary, safety training may cover the use of heavy machinery and/or emergency equipment.
Why is Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training Important?
- Significantly reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace by educating employees on safe work practices
- Minimizes the impact of unavoidable injuries by preparing employees to follow emergency protocol when the need arises
- Promotes a safe work environment and culture, in turn allowing employees to operate comfortably — and ensuring they feel valued as members of your team
Challenges of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training
- Scheduling the time needed for employees to undergo proper safety training
- Verifying that team members take safety training seriously — and employ what they’ve learned as intended
- Retraining those who need additional guidance, and keeping all employees up-to-date with safety protocol
Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training Best Practices
- Incorporate hands-on and simulated exercises into training to provide real-world practice with new equipment with minimal risk of injury or misuse.
- Tailor safety training to the specific needs and risks of your workplace and the roles of the employees being trained to ensure relevance and increase engagement.
- As with compliance training, provide safety courses and refreshers on a regular and routine basis to make sure all employees have multiple opportunities to train as needed — and to stay compliant at all times.
Skill Development Training
Continuous improvement — for both your individual employees and your organization — is crucial to ongoing business success.
Let’s take a look at the key types of employee training used to make this happen, including:
- Technical Training
- Soft Skills Training
- Product Training
- Quality Assurance Training
What is Technical Training?
Technical training aims to equip employees with specific skills and knowledge needed to use new technology, software, or equipment.
Technical training is utilized:
- When introducing new software or technology to the organization
- When changing an employee’s duties or roles within the company
- When employee performance shows more technical training is necessary
Other training types — such as onboarding and upskilling — may involve technical training as well.
Why is Technical Training Important?
- Increases efficiency and productivity by maximizing the amount of use employees get from the tools and technology they have on-hand
- Minimizes work stoppages and unnecessary waste due to misuse of tools
- Ensures your employees stay current with new technology as it emerges — allowing your organization to stay competitive in your industry
Challenges of Technical Training
- Creating and/or improving technical trainings repeatedly as technology evolves, your company switches equipment, or other changes occur.
- Keeping employees engaged and motivated — especially those who may be fearful of new technology
- Ensuring all learners have the basic skills and knowledge needed to engage with the technical aspects of training
Technical Training Best Practices
- As best as possible, provide real-world learning environments to allow learners to immediately apply technical skills. A digital adoption platform like WalkMe or an alternative can be used to guide users through the use of new software as they use the new tool.
- Any lecture-based technical training should include interactive and multimedia content to help learners visualize and practice new processes.
- Consult veteran employees and subject matter experts while developing technical training — and use them to create and deliver learning material, as well.
Soft Skills Training
What is Soft Skills Training?
Soft skills training looks to enhance the intangible knowledge and skills your employees possess that allows them to thrive.
This includes things like:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Time management and task prioritization
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
Due to the nature of soft skills, training around them usually involves observation of colleagues employing said skills, either in a real-world or simulated setting.
Why is Soft Skills Training Important?
- Improves teamwork and collaborative efforts, even amongst those who rarely interact
- Helps employees become more adaptable to change — both planned and unplanned
- Soft skills are perhaps the core skills that lead to career and professional development
Challenges of Soft Skills Training
- Measuring the impact of soft skills and tacit knowledge — and the effectiveness of related training — is more difficult than with technical and other training.
- Individuals exhibit soft skills differently based on personality, style, etc. — making it difficult to teach or demonstrate the “right” way to exhibit them.
- Motivating those who may not naturally exhibit certain soft skills to make foundational improvements to their personality
Soft Skills Training Best Practices
- Use real-world or video demonstrations of both good and bad examples of soft skills in practice. Also, have learners role-play both good and bad examples.
- Implement mentorships and peer learning to facilitate discussion around soft skills and related best practices.
- Recognize and celebrate when employees demonstrate soft skills on the job — taking the time to explain exactly what went so well to the individual and their colleagues.
What is Product Training?
Product training teaches your employees everything they need to know about your product(s) to do their job effectively.
This, of course, means different things for different employees. For example, product training for your dev team and support staff should focus more on the technical aspects of the product — while training for your marketing and sales teams will be more about product’s features and benefits.
That said, product training should be comprehensive for all roles to ensure maximum understanding of your product across the board.
Why is Product Training Important?
- Creates alignment around the product in its current state — and maintains said alignment as the product is updated
- Enhances the customer experience, directly and indirectly, by ensuring the members of your team are experts on your product
- Allows all team members to provide valuable feedback on the product — which can then be used to make iterative improvements over time
Challenges of Product Training
- Providing consistent information and training while tailoring sessions to the needs of different departments
- Ensuring those who don’t directly work with your product retain the knowledge gleaned from training sessions
- Updating training sessions as you update your product, and as feedback dictates
Product Training Best Practices
- Use a blend of lecture, demonstration, and hands-on learning to showcase your product in full and enhance understanding
- Offer cross-departmental product training so all teams understand the multiple facets of your product
- Create comprehensive product guides that showcase the product from all angles to supplement training sessions
Quality Assurance Training
What is Quality Assurance Training?
Quality assurance (QA) training is designed to educate employees on the procedures and tools used to ensure that your products and services meet your company’s standards before being shipped to the customer.
The goal of QA training is for employees to be better able to detect, address, and prevent defects or non-compliance in products or processes. While often applied to a company’s public-facing product or service, QA training can be applied to internal QA processes as well.
(That is, training focused on improving the employee’s ability to identify and address quality concerns of any kind as they arise.)
On top of improving direct QA practices, related training aims to improve planning, documentation, and other behind-the-scenes processes.
Why is Quality Assurance Training Important?
- Ensures product, service, and process quality from all angles — typically leading to exceeded expectations across the board
- Reduces costs, work stoppages, and redundancies by eliminating waste and other issues as far upstream as possible
- Maintains compliance — and keep teams prepared for immediate change on a rolling basis
Challenges of Quality Assurance Training
- Keeping content up-to-date and securing the necessary resources for ongoing QA training
- Engaging employees who may not see the value of QA training within their role
- Ensuring learners put QA training into practice — and aim to exceed expectations rather than simply check off the basics
Quality Assurance Training Best Practices
- Consider the operational improvement models that are best for your organization and the given situation
- Illustrate the impact of excellent (and poor) quality assurance at all operational touchpoints to showcase relevance of training
- Use gamification to promote dedicated engagement from all employees
What is Employee Upskilling Training?
Upskilling training refers to the process of teaching current employees new skills and knowledge to match the evolving demands of their current roles and the industry as a whole.
Beyond simple “skills training”, upskilling is about actively equipping your team with the knowledge and abilities needed to succeed in a rapidly changing professional landscape. This, in turn, allows your individual employees to continue learning and growing in their career — and creates a workforce that’s prepared to lead your industry into the future.
Why is Employee Upskilling Training Important?
- Directly addresses skills gaps on an individual and organization-wide basis
- Crucial to addressing changing business needs as dictated internally or by the industry
- Improves employee engagement, knowledge retention, and dedication to the organization
Challenges of Employee Upskilling Training
- Providing regular, impactful training while not distracting employees from their daily responsibilities
- Engaging employees in training where the impact isn’t immediately felt by the learner
- Creating training content that don’t become irrelevant with industry changes
Employee Upskilling Training Best Practices
- Develop personalized learning paths for employees focused on individual learning domains and their overall career outlook
- Allow learners to take control of their upskilling training, especially over the long term
- Collect feedback and analyze performance data to tailor learning material and growth paths accordingly
What is Employee Reskilling Training?
Reskilling refers to the process of training an existing employee for a new role or position within the organization.
Reskilling is often used when current positions become obsolete, when their responsibilities change, and/or when new positions are being created to fulfill the evolving needs of the market. Successful reskilling makes your team more flexible, allowing you to pivot as needed with the changing winds of your industry.
Why is Employee Reskilling Training Important?
- Retains talented, versatile, and dedicated employees who want to grow with your company
- Promotes holistic learning, creating an environment of well-rounded employees who understand and learn from one another
- Reskilling current employees can be much more cost-effective than making a new hire
Challenges of Employee Reskilling Training
- Creating tailored reskilling training that connects employees’ current position — which will vary — with the new position (which has only just been created)
- Maintaining engagement and morale amongst those who are unhappy with the switch being made
- Identifying the right employees to reskill — and managing those who were passed over for a sought-after change
Employee Reskilling Training Best Practices
- Look for high-performing employees with transferable skills, along with the soft skills needed to switch gears on-the-fly
- Make use of a knowledge map to connect the employee’s current responsibilities and strengths to their new role to aid in skills transfer and motivation
- Target second-choice candidates for upskilling training that would make them more valuable to the organization
Specialized Employee Training
Finally, let’s talk about a few of the most important domain-specific employee training types:
- Leadership Training
- Sales Training
- Diversity Training
- Team Training
- Cross-Team Training
What is Leadership Training?
Leadership training refers to one of two types of employee training:
- Training of current leaders to stay up-to-date with emerging trends, technology, and overall leadership requirements
- Training of current employees who exhibit leadership qualities to eventually assume these roles within your company
Leadership training can focus on both hard and soft skills depending on employee and company needs. The focus might also be on managing these skills within other employees to ensure top performance from the team.
Why is Leadership Training Important?
- Improve current leaders’ abilities to lead their team, manage (and invoke) change, and minimize risk
- Prepare future leaders for future responsibilities from early on in their career
- Keeping things in-house makes for continuity of knowledge, processes, etc.
Challenges of Leadership Training
- Creating assessments and monitoring performance — especially when focusing on soft leadership skills
- Similarly, identifying employees who fit leadership positions (who may not necessarily be your top-performing employees)
- Keeping new leaders focused on growth, versus getting stuck in how things currently work
Leadership Training Best Practices
- Use mentorship and coaching as go-to strategies for leadership training
- Leverage trainees’ past experiences underneath different leadership to illustrate best (and worst) practices
- Promote leadership skills amongst your employees as a matter of course
What is Sales Training?
Sales training, as the name suggests, aims to improve the skills, techniques, and strategies used by your sales team to enhance their ability to sell.
Sales training can cover a broad range of topics, such as:
- Successful sales methodologies
- Customer relationship management
- Negotiation skills
- Product specs and benefits
- Emerging sales software
Why is Sales Training Important?
- Helps build a high-performing sales team that's able to achieve targets more effectively and efficiently
- Improve customer engagements and relationships by continuously meeting their needs and providing what they need to make a purchasing decision
- Increased confidence in sales team to try new techniques, aim for higher targets, and otherwise make more sales
Challenges of Sales Training
- Connect sales personnel with training that fills in their skills and knowledge gaps by building off their current strengths
- Integrating new processes or techniques into current sales workflows and approaches without risking disruption
- Cost of training, especially when the focus is on new sales technology
Sales Training Best Practices
- Use real-world sales engagements to identify high-priority skills gaps — and to develop training experiences around
- Follow lectures and other teacher-led training with hand-on practice, especially when introducing new methodologies and strategies
- Make use of a knowledge base for your sales team to reinforce effective use of new strategies and such to avoid reverting to outdated practices
What is Diversity Training?
Diversity training is created to raise awareness and increase understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within an organization.
Some topics often covered by diversity training include:
- Cultural competency and knowledge
- Inclusive conversation
- Unconscious bias
While diversity training often covers many uncomfortable truths about societal norms in the workplace, the goal is to celebrate diversity — and to fully recognize the positive impact a diverse organization can have on the world.
Why is Diversity Training Important?
- Fosters an inclusive workplace where all employees not only feel like they belong, but also feel comfortable expressing ideas and opinions that stem from their diverse backgrounds
- Improves creative thinking and collaborative efforts through the open sharing of diverse ideas
- Attracts and retains top talent, who are often progressive and inclusive by nature
Challenges of Diversity Training
- Ensuring authentic training content and learner engagement that does more than pay lip service to modern diversity initiatives
- Lack of initiative from those who may not understand the necessity of DEI training. Similarly, helping passive sympathizers evolve into active allies.
- Measuring the impact of diversity training on an individual level
Diversity Training Best Practices
- Ensure diversity amongst your leadership/training team from the start. Allow those with first-hand experience to take the reins, with other educators following their lead appropriately.
- Assess your organization to identify specific needs regarding DEI training. While you’ll ultimately want to cover all the bases, start with areas that your employees are most concerned with (or that otherwise impact your team the most).
- Set expectations by providing clear direction and instruction (and illustrations of said instruction). Promote accountability and work with those who make mistakes — while being sure not to minimize the damage these mistakes can do to others.
What is Team Training?
Team training helps individuals and teams enhance the skills needed to work better together.
It can be focused on the practical, hard skills required to complete collaborative tasks — or on relevant soft skills, such as conflict resolution, problem solving, and task prioritization. Due to the shift to remote and hybrid work, team training often involves both individual and collaborative lessons and activities.
Why is Team Training Important?
- Increases individual and team productivity to levels not possible to achieve when working alone
- Enhances team cohesion, leading to more and more innovative collaborative efforts from the group
- Minimizes risk of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and other interpersonal friction that can keep you from achieving your goals
Challenges of Team Training
- Developing training initiatives that match the unique dynamic of your team, along with the needs of individual team members
- Quantifying soft skill levels and growth over time
- Anticipating and developing training around the specific types of friction that are likely to occur within different teams
Team Training Best Practices
- Ensure all team members see the individual and team-wide benefits of each training initiative they attend.
- Schedule collaborative training sessions when all team members are available — and allow them to complete individual lessons on their own time
- For remote and hybrid teams, consider putting on summits or other in-person events where everyone can get some actual face-time with one another
What is Cross-Team Training?
Cross-team training involves training employees to collaborate better with members of other teams or departments within your organization.
Cross-team training initiatives revolve around breaking down interdepartmental silos by enhancing relevant skills, such as communication, flexibility, and innovation. The goal is for all team members to know and understand how to best work with one another to achieve common goals — regardless of what role each party plays in the company.
Why is Cross-Team Training Important?
- Increase individual and team performance by removing blockers and facilitating synergistic work
- Create a shared sense of responsibility for all job-related tasks, leading to more dedicated efforts across the board
- Enhance knowledge sharing and transfer by getting more perspectives on relevant topics
Challenges of Cross-Team Training
- Scheduling training to accommodate members of various teams that may or may not work in the same location
- Ensuring trainees understand the relevance of some lessons and activities — and keeping them engaged through the “aha” moments
- Potential communication or culture barriers can arise more frequently with cross-team training
Cross-Team Training Best Practices
- Use shadowing and observation to allow employees to see how other teams function, what they’re responsible for, and how they might be able to help
- Use generative AI to create unique situations that require various combinations of cross-teamwork to overcome.
- Create a company intranet or social media network to facilitate ongoing communication and socialization.
Helpjuice Supercharges Your Employee Training Programs
Expert knowledge is at the core of every employee training initiative you’ll put together — regardless of type.
So it’s absolutely critical that this knowledge is stored and made accessible in a centralized location for learners to use as needed. Having this centralized repository also allows your training teams to develop developmental campaigns that are jam packed with helpful information and practical knowledge.
Which is where Helpjuice comes in.
With our knowledge base software…
- You can create all the training material you need to keep your employees engaged and focused on their growth.
- Your training staff can collaborate in real-time or asynchronously as they develop new learning material and make ongoing improvements to training sessions.
- And, you can allow learners open access to all relevant training materials — while keeping unnecessary areas of your knowledge base restricted as needed.
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo with Helpjuice’s team today!