Once you have gone through the effort of finding your new hire, the real work begins. Training your new employee is essential for many reasons, including their immediate productivity, confidence, and continued interest in remaining with the organization long term. In just a few simple tips, we will teach you how to train new employees and how to develop a solid training platform.
Did You Know? Research shows that when companies have strong new employee training programs, 91% of new employees stay for at least a year and 69% are still at their employer after three years.
1. Train as Part of the Orientation Experience
New employee orientation should include more than just training your employee on how to perform their job well. Training is essential, but so is welcoming your new employee, explaining what your company’s mission, values, and core beliefs are, and so on. The “welcoming” part of the process allows you to position the new employee to receive all that is needed in the “training” process that follows.
Welcome your new employee (during their probation period and beyond), help them feel comfortable and part of the team, and share with them the core beliefs behind the brand. This will align the employee, the sponsor (see below), and the training that is to come.
2. Assign a Sponsor (or Point Person)
A sponsor is a person designated to guide your new employee through the training process. LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report noted that employees are 94% more likely to remain with an employer if they “…simply invested in helping them learn.” We know that not everyone has an HR professional on staff (if you do, this person should be your sponsor), but you should appoint someone to take this lead role, as it is a game-changer.
After the hiring process is complete, the sponsor will serve as a guide. They help remove obstacles, answer extraneous questions, make adjustments to the employee’s training schedule, and can put the new employee in touch with people who have helpful answers to their questions.
A sponsor ensures that all bumps in the road are smoothed out so that the new employee’s first impressions of the company remain high, there is an efficient training program execution, and the employee feels cared for and valued.
3. Develop a Training Program
Before training new employees, ideally, you will have had time to create a new employee training program. Training new employees as though they are one-off projects is a bad way of welcoming new team members. If done this way, training will not be consistent, detailed, or very intentional.
Training programs can look different from company to company and can even vary from new employee hire to the next (depending on which department and function they are in). Some attributes that are present in a well-thought-out training program include the following:
- Position-specific training, including job shadowing
- Training from an IT department that teaches how the intranet works, how the phones work, and so on
- Sit-down time with HR to complete new hire paperwork
- Cross-training with employees who work closely with the position the new employee has stepped into
- Up-stream and down-stream training which provides the employee exposure to all parts of the larger processes within the organization
- Sit-down time with senior leadership to welcome the new employee and to help the employee place their role within the larger organizational context
Did You Know? There’s a record 68% of employees who report that training and development is the company’s most important policy in the handbook. Further, your training program will be the road map that your sponsor uses to indoctrinate the new team member. It ensures that the same program for the position is executed each time and is both thoughtful and complete.
4. Build a Training Schedule
Aside from the sponsor, a well-thought-out training schedule is the most essential item to training your new employee. It does not have to be fancy; an Excel document with appointments and the overall schedule works just fine. Details to have on your schedule include:
- Name of supervisor or trainer the employee is meeting with
- Location of the trainer
- How long the training is
- Break times and a lunch break
- Subject matter that is to be addressed (if you have room on your scheduler)
Note that your perfectly aligned and planned out schedule will change! Co-workers will cancel, reschedule, call in sick, and so on. Meetings will run over, training sessions may start late, and it will be the sponsor’s job to adjust the schedule so that everything and everyone receives the time they need to adequately train your new employee.
Developing a training schedule should include everyone who ultimately is placed on the schedule (whether they are scheduled once or repeatedly). Schedules are essential for ensuring that all critical aspects of the new team member’s employment and role are covered.
5. Involve Many Team Members
The more employees your new team member is exposed to during training, the better. This is noteworthy for both introductions and team building; it also ensures the training is well-rounded and includes many perspectives and experiences. When developing the schedule, we strongly recommend including as many people from all parts of the organization as possible.
Diverse training is often best delivered from a diverse team of trainers. Although challenging at times, we recommend going the extra mile to ensure that all of your new team members are exposed to as many employees as possible.
The group collective makes the better training team. Forcing one or two people to roll out all of the new employee training programs is not only unsustainable (due to trainer burnout) but is not as rich as having several employee-subject-matter-expert trainers take part in the program.
6. Be Flexible With Your Training Program
Creating a training program and its schedule for your new team member is a lot of work. It involves checking with some staff, arranging calendars, dealing with busy managers, and maneuvering around fires.
For example, once you get the schedule nailed down, you may be tempted to follow the schedule’s outline, no matter how many challenges it brings. We actually encourage this; do not let small issues or your training schedule be easily derailed. However, there are times when you will need to move things around, reschedule appointments, and extend sessions with certain trainers due to additional needed training time.
Flexibility is critical to your training program. Without it, there is only frustration and limited productivity awaiting you. Having said that, not allowing your timelines or material dictate how your new team member will learn their new role will greatly enhance your ability to fit all needed training in; it will also help you avoid overwhelming your new team member or team of colleagues tapped to assist you (including the sponsor).
7. Set Goals for Training
It’s important to establish targets or goals for the new employee’s training over their first few weeks. These can look many different ways, as this practice will be best defined and curated by you (with the help of your sponsor).
Targets and goals can be time limits on learned skill sets, performance testing, certain abilities gained after X number of sessions with certain trainers, and so on. Whatever works best for your organization should be the skeletal structure of your schedule and training program overall. That is, if you find that your schedule looks streamlined but does not allow enough time for the most essential areas of the employee’s training, then the schedule is not fulfilling its concept.
Making adjustments along the way and maintaining reasonable expectations of your new team member are the main ingredients in your successful training program.
It is easy to allow training time to erode or be canceled completely, but resist the temptation to cut it short. If there is doubt that training goes the way of good intentions, then consider that on average, organizations with anywhere from 100 to 500 employees typically only give six minutes of training per employee every six months.
8. Check in Frequently for Understanding
Often, there remains a strong temptation to believe that the job is done once you get your new employee through your course of training, meet all the new team members needed, and complete new hire paperwork and other onboarding steps. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are not yet done. There is one more essential step to take in your new employee training program. It is sort of “on-going” too.
Checking in with your new hire, not just for understanding but to gauge stress, anxiety levels, and overall comfort in their new role, is critical to making the training process a successful one.
A recent report shows that 40% of employees with poor training leave their jobs within the first year. That is troublesome, disruptive, and expensive. Partnering with your new team member is essential. Thus, what we are describing is not just one check-in, but a series of them by the sponsor, the employee’s supervisor, the supervisor’s supervisor, and so on. This is an essential part of winning the hearts and minds of your newest team members.
Checking in for understanding ensures that the investments being made in your new team member are sinking in and paying off. The value is in the outcome, not ruthlessly exercising the program as designed, so do not get lost in the weeds (remember, be flexible, as needed). Ensure that your new team member is absorbing what is being modeled and check in regularly for continuity.
9. Be Intentional About Selecting Trainers & Use Creative Training Methods
By way of methods of new employee training, there is a list a mile long with options and ideas from various schools of thought. The fact is, there are many ways to train new team members well. We want to share a number of modalities with you just to suggest a way for moving forward.
Some of these modalities are on-going and can be utilized with partnering modalities, also noted on our list. This is good news, as we have to remember that adult learning is not consumed in one specific way, but, rather, through several different methods of absorbing new information.
- Job shadowing: Regardless of the role, almost all positions have an aspect of teach-then-do. This is most commonly demonstrated through partnering with a team member until proficiency is learned.
- On the job training (aka OJT): This ties in with job shadowing but also excludes oversight training; some employees learn by jumping in and absorbing the dos and don’ts as they go.
- Webinars and other online training: As we continue to work more remotely, webinars and online training courses are being utilized more and more. They are cost-effective and efficient.
- Mentoring program: A mentor is more for longer term guidance, but can also be utilized in the initial training for new employees. Along with the technical skill that trainers will be focused on teaching, mentors can encourage, check-in, and model positivity throughout the stressful process of beginning a new job.
- Cultural and social training: This again speaks to the on-boarding process, which includes technical training, but also the overarching cultural, mission-based, core-belief-driven aspects of the organization itself.
- Mobile application-utilized training: This is a technical capability that includes all other suggestions on this list. Mobile apps are being utilized more for new employee training due to their convenience, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness.
- Vendor or third-party training: Some organizations, in addition to their internal training programs, will augment their efforts with third-party training that is professionally given regarding a specific field, topic, skill, or knowledge-based commodity.
- Social media-based: Along with the increased use of apps for new employee training, some companies also utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to enhance or diversify their new employee training platforms. This appeals to younger generations and tech-savvy employees.
- Gamification: Speaking of attracting both younger generations and tech-savvy employees (often within the same grouping, but not always), training via gamification is sort of the new, rising golden chalice of employee training. If even a portion of your on-boarding or new employee training can be gamified, then your batting average of winning over new team members will be higher than your competition’s. Continu offers a unique and tailored gaming experience for training that will give you additional insight into this growing trend.
People learn in different ways, and your training program should reflect that. Don’t be afraid to try innovative methods like webinars, training games, and mobile learning. Also, be sure you select the right trainers for the job; they should have expertise in what they’re teaching and the medium with which they’re delivering the training.
10. Ensure Training Matches the Reality of the Job
I wasn’t trained on this. This is not what supervisors want to hear after new employees have been on-boarded and have had, or supposed to have had, their core employee training for their corresponding job. At times, this does happen, though and, to a large extent, it is just a part of running a business with employees.
There are times, however, that we miss key attributes to training that new team members really do need. Ensuring that the training matches the reality of the job (as it is today, not how the job was six months or a year ago) is essential.
- Training program relevance: Create job-specific training programs for each role in the organization.
- Subject matter expertise: Have employees in the roles you want to develop a training program for involved in the development process.
- Annual reviews: Commit to annual check-ins with incumbents to ensure that as the job evolves, the training platform for it does as well.
Take a moment to ensure you know exactly what your new hire will be doing in their role on a day-to-day basis. Ideally, it should be included in the job description. Ensure that your training plan aligns with the expectations of the position.
11. Personalize Training for New Remote Employees
We wanted to establish some suggested ground rules for training remote employees. In 2020, remote training went from a cute novelty that some progressive-minded companies offered as a fringe benefit, to an essential part of keeping one’s business open all across America and throughout the world.
Training and managing remote employees is different; however, our strong belief is that training can be done just as effectively remotely as it can in-person. The effort will be a bit more and will also require more check-ins and oversight so that the employee can stay on course and feel connected with the organization. Some quick tips for remote new employee training programs:
- Equip your IT platform. Your ERP or IT platform needs to incorporate remote learning and management of employees overall. Make sure that access to all information is ready to go before the employee’s first day. Also, determine what hardware is needed for your remote employee.
- Develop a support team with expectations. Remote employees do not always know how their administrative and overflow work should be handled. Assigning people to help your new team member with a quick call or instant message can make all of the difference.
- Schedule added flexibility. When creating a training schedule for a remote employee, resist the habit of scheduling back-to-back-to-back meetings. Three hours of nothing but Zoom calls is simply exhausting. Provide 15-minute breaks between calls for at least the first two weeks.
Be mindful that the challenges that come with remote training are sometimes different from training new hires who are in the office. Ensure your technology is functional, and implement strategies to avoid Zoom fatigue.
New employee training can be easy to put off in favor of getting your new employee to work as soon as possible. After all, if you didn’t really need them working, you would not have hired them, right? Resist this urge; 24% higher profit margins can be the result of companies who invest in training from the start.
Learning how to train new employees will require some work up front but will greatly enhance your team’s ability to add new hires to a welcoming environment and show that they are appreciated and greatly valued.