How to Design an Employee Training Program

Five tips for how to boost office productivity via an employee training program.

How to Design an Employee Training Program
Training employees is an investment, but one that will show eventual returns.

Five tips for how to boost office productivity via an employee training program.

Productivity is always a hot topic around the boardroom table, but how exactly do you create an effective training program for your employees? For advice on preventing staff grumbling next time a training session comes around, we talked to some experts: Elizabeth Newton, organizational behaviour and human resources instructor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business; Debbie Toole, vice-president of human resources at B.C. Lottery Corp.; and Raj Heer, director of human resources at AeroInfo Systems.

Get into the right mindset

Think about why you want a training program in the first place. Ask yourself and the trainers, Why are we doing this? What outcomes are we looking for? How will we know the training has been a success? What type of employees do we have? Answers will lead to a more effective program. “Look at your organizational needs, look at the skill levels of your current employees, do an assessment of the gap and that’s where you start looking at your key priority areas,” Toole says. “From there, look at where your organization is going and extrapolate that out to the future.”

Don’t rush into it

Some companies just throw together training programs as quickly as possible so they can tick another item off their to-do list. This doesn’t work. “Some people don’t take it seriously enough,” Newton says. “They take a speed-training approach and ask, ‘What can you do for me in three hours?’ But they want the outcomes that would take two months of good training.” 

When to take it off-site 

Deciding to take employees out of the office for training depends on the needs of your organization, but the training should never be too far away from your home base. You have to determine “that that’s an appropriate place that really requires that group of folks to be removed from the office and in a different environment for that period of time,” Toole says.

Provide support

When employees are training, managers should try to keep their workload to a minimum so they won’t be stressed out about the work they’ll have to catch up on after. “One of the biggest problems I see is that managers don’t support their people in training,” Newton says. “They send them off, but their inboxes are just piling up while they are away.”

Know when to stop

Be attentive. Look at your employees 
and pick up any social cues. “If your employees are dragging themselves to training, are itching to use their BlackBerrys and rush out as soon as it’s done, and if you notice no difference when they’re through, then you might decide it was the wrong training or too much training,” Newton explains. Heer recommends gauging the outcome by asking employees to share what they have learned with their work teams, to find out how much of the information they absorbed.

“Training is an investment,” he says. “You’re not going to see the returns right away. It will happen, but over a period of time.”