Knowing how to train employees can make a significant difference in their success with your company. By providing comprehensive and effective training, you are equipping your employees with the tools and skills they need to excel in their roles.
A strong training program starts with selecting the appropriate training methods and establishing a schedule. Hire in pairs if you can and assign buddies to all your trainees. You’ll also want to set clear goals for your training and then review the program when your new employees complete the training to see what adjustments need to be made.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those steps below, so you can train your new hires efficiently and effectively.
Step 1: Select a Training Method & Build Your Process Before Hiring
Think about your business and what new hires need to know, considering the company’s policies, reporting structure, and mission and goals. These may not seem like key training areas, but your new hires know very little about your company—integrate this foundational information with a thorough overview.
There are several employee training methods you can use, and, generally, you will use multiple. Ultimately, which methods you use depends on your organization’s needs and may vary from job to job.
If you are hiring your first employee, review our new hire checklist.
This training method is great for jobs that have the same duties, like customer service. Your recorded training could include videos showing a day in the life of your new employee and showing them how to use your software.
Think about the specific tasks you need employees to do. If you’re hiring a customer service representative, do they need to follow a script when a customer calls with a problem? Do they need to understand multiple products? Do you have a specific greeting they must use when answering a call? All of these questions should guide you in building a specific training process that can be recorded and reused for this type of job.
If your company doesn’t have repeatable jobs, recorded training can be useful for systems everyone uses, like time off requests or messaging platforms. As long as you record these once and keep them updated, you won’t waste company resources on one-on-one training every time you hire someone new.
One-on-one training is necessary, even if you have recorded training for new hires. With this method, new employees receive more personalized attention and their questions are answered immediately. In today’s work environment, this can just as easily be done remotely as it can in person.
While unnecessary to use for the entire training process, one-on-one training is best for complicated topics and confidential matters. If you’re hiring a customer service representative, you may need to discuss with them the process for handling sensitive customer information and delivering great customer service. That’s not something you want them to passively watch on a video—you need to see that they pay attention and understand.
One-on-one training is crucial for communicating job expectations. You need to make sure your new hire knows what’s expected of them, what their metrics are, and how their performance will be evaluated. In-person or virtually, communicating allows them to ask clarifying questions and ensure they completely understand what is expected of them.
Shadow training—also called job shadowing—is a great way to give a new hire exposure to other colleagues and their jobs. Especially if your new hire will be doing the same or similar job, this method can give insight on how to handle their role well. Because of this, it’s vital to choose the right training partner, someone you can trust, to show your new employee how things work.
Besides that, it’s good for the new hire to see how their job affects others and vice versa, especially for jobs that require close collaboration with other employees. This type of training, considered job rotation, doesn’t have to be long—an hour is often enough to give the new employee perspective.
This is the most common type of training used and can be the most effective. But we recommend using this training method only after using at least one of the above.
Although new hires may have done the same or similar jobs before, your company may do things slightly differently and you need to train them in your ways. On-the-job training is the best way to do that and ensure they meet your expectations.
Depending on the type of job the new hire is doing, this training may last part of a day or several weeks. For a customer service representative, you may have them answer customer calls later on their first day, sitting beside them and giving them real-time feedback. A quick and immediate adjustment will put them on a path to success in the long run.
Regardless of whether a new hire used the same software at a previous job, your use may differ. To ensure they use your business’ technology correctly, they need to be trained. It is possible to record systems training, but just make sure you update it whenever you change systems.
For a customer service representative, you may require them to make notes in customer relationship management (CRM) software. The CRM may keep detailed records for each customer so if they call with another problem, the person helping them can see what issues and resolutions this customer has received in the past. This helps give the customer a great experience and is only possible if every member of your team is using the CRM in the same way.
To fully adapt to your organization, your new hires need to understand your company’s mission, goals, and culture. Especially for today’s workforce, people want to work for a company that has a clear goal and a positive mission. Making these front and center will help you engage your new employees.
You may include discussions of specific company policies within the culture training. While many companies have similar policies, it’s a good practice to have employees review the company handbook and give them time to ask questions about policies and practices. Make sure you discuss any company-specific policies, like how to request time off, how to call out sick, and how the performance management process works.
Depending on the industry or state, your company may need to complete certain compliance training requirements.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires certain safety training for high-risk jobs and industries. Workers in healthcare may be required to have training on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Some states also require certain compliance training, most notably anti-harassment. Be sure to check your state laws to make sure you’re compliant.
If you have a diverse recruiting strategy in place at your company, this should be part of your compliance training. Diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) training may involve how to recognize unconscious bias, how to create inclusive teams, or what employees should do if they witness discrimination at work.
Step 2: Have a Clear Training Schedule (But Be Flexible)
One key to how to train new hires is to have a clear onboarding process. This process starts before the new employee’s first day. The same is true with the training schedule.
Whether your new employee is remote or in person, they’ll want to know what to expect on Day One.
- Send them a welcome email a few days before their start date.
- Don’t ask them to do any training in advance unless you’re going to pay them.
- Do give them a clear schedule for at least their first day. In some cases, you may be able to map out their first week, giving them a good idea of what to expect.
This schedule should describe the type of training they’re going to receive and include breaks. Especially if the new hire is remote, they’ll need to get up and stretch their legs. Giving their brain a break is also helpful for the retention of everything they’re learning. Breaks will also ensure you’re not throwing too much at them too fast.
Make sure you also schedule regular coaching sessions with their manager, especially during that first week. You don’t want the manager to appear micromanaging, but you want to ensure the new employee feels comfortable asking questions and has dedicated time during the week to speak with their direct supervisor. We recommend scheduling at least two 15-minute time blocks every day during the first week. You can learn more about how to coach your employees to improve performance.
Your training schedule also needs to be flexible. You may want to leave some empty time during the week in case emergencies arise and you need to move something. If everything runs smoothly, this extra time can be used for additional one-on-one time with the new hire’s manager and as break time for the employee to process everything they’re learning.
You may want HR to train all of your employees but make sure your managers know what’s in the training so they don’t give new hires contradictory information.
Step 3: Hire in Pairs & Assign a Buddy
Hiring employees requires a structured process, just like training them. If you can, hire new employees in pairs. This gives them a partner, someone going through onboarding and training at the same time. It also cuts down on the amount of administrative time you have to commit to each new employee.
Whether your company hires one employee or several, assign all of them a buddy or mentor who isn’t their manager. Your new hire will undoubtedly get to know their colleagues over time, but assigning them a buddy can expedite the relationship with an already trusted member of your team. This is someone the new employee can lean on with questions about the business and their job, without feeling like they’re bothering their manager.
A buddy or mentor serves as a guide for the new hire, but also as a cheerleader for your organization. By providing advice about how to deal with situations, the buddy can groom the new employee and help them progress and rise within the organization.
Step 4: Set Training Goals
Throughout the training process, you should have training goals for the employee to meet. This gets them accustomed to meeting goals set by the company and ensures they complete the training in a timely manner.
Training goals could include:
- Relevant compliance training completed by the end of Day One
- Reviewing the handbook and signing the acknowledgment by the end of the first week
- Completing any recorded training sessions by the end of the first week
The training goals should be set by your organization and monitored by the employee’s supervisor or HR. Especially for required compliance training, it’s crucial you ensure the new employee has completed training on time.
Step 5: Review Your Training
After new hires complete their training, conduct a debrief. Review the training with the new employee three to six months after their first day and get their feedback on what went well and what didn’t. Ask them about what could have been improved and what could have better prepared them for this job. This will enhance the training experience for future new hires.
Also, make sure your company training stays up to date with their professional development. The last thing you want is to train new employees in the old ways. An annual reminder for your HR team to review the training program to make sure it is current will ensure that your new hires receive the best information possible.
When faced with skills and competency gaps, 78% of companies rely on additional internal training and development opportunities.
Best Practices for Training New Hires
Training plays a vital role in setting up new employees for success, but it requires careful planning and implementation. By adopting these strategies, you can create a strong foundation for your new employees and set them up for long-term growth within your company.
- Prepare in Advance – Before your new hire’s first day, be sure you have everything they need in place. Create a structured plan, including job-specific information.
- Combine Training Methods – Combine different training methods to keep it fresh and cater to different learning styles. Instead of just bombarding them with theoretical knowledge, allow for hands-on training with real-world projects and tasks.
- Allow For Questions – During the training process, encourage your new employees to ask questions. This will allow for a dialogue between employees and supervisors.
- Encourage Breaks – Make sure you allow time for your new hires to take breaks during their training period. This will help them absorb the information and retain it for future knowledge.
Building a new hire training program can be overwhelming. You don’t have to build this training yourself—you may want to consider some of the best employee training software. The biggest benefit of these types of software training programs is that they allow you to easily adjust the training as your company and processes change.
What to Avoid When Training New Employees
When you know how to properly train employees you can avoid pitfalls that can derail the training process. Here are the most common issues that negatively impact new hire training:
- Lack of Direction – Without defined expectations and benchmarks for success, employees may struggle to understand what they are supposed to learn or achieve. It is important to establish specific learning outcomes and communicate them clearly to employees. This way, trainees will have a sense of direction and purpose throughout the training process.
- Inadequate Communication – When there is a breakdown in communication between trainers and trainees, it hampers the training process as misunderstandings arise and issues go unresolved. Prioritize effective communication channels within your company to foster an environment where feedback flows freely.
- Information Overload – When you give too much information to new employees too fast it can be overwhelming. With your new hires likely having different learning styles, be sure to space out training sessions over the course of a week to a month. This will help them learn and retain the materials faster.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Training employees with no prior experience can be challenging; however, you can tackle this by providing them with detailed written instructions or manuals that outline step-by-step processes. Additionally, provide hands-on training and set clear expectations from the start.
The time it takes to train a new employee will depend on the complexity of the job. Certain jobs may require extensive training that should last around three months. Less complex jobs may only take a week or two to train. However, proper professional development should be an ongoing process that lasts the entirety of the employees lifecycle with the company.
If you don’t hire frequently, it’s easy to ignore the process of creating a new hire training program and just wing it each time. By creating a structured training program once, however, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you hire someone new. Your new employees are an investment in your company’s success. Invest in them by setting up a training program that helps them be successful and productive.
Although many businesses prefer to avoid a structured training program, we highly recommend establishing a strong process. If you need help creating a training program for your business, consider Rippling. It provides solid HR software along with a full training and onboarding program ready for you to use with every new hire you make. It even has preloaded courses for some state-mandated training, like sexual harassment, so you don’t have to create your own. Sign up to try it today.