Employee Training Plan: A Blueprint for Successful Training
Well-designed training enhances your people's growth, development, and engagement and will strengthen your organization's potential.
But when it comes to training, as the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail—a proper employee training plan lays the foundations for the success of your training efforts.
And with studies showing that many new hires leave their roles due to inadequate training, it's worth getting training right through proper planning.
In this article, we'll show you how to create an effective employee training plan:
- What to look for.
- The steps you need to take.
- The tools that will boost your chances of success.
💪 What is an employee training plan?
An employee training plan sets out the learning outcomes, strategies, curriculum, and methods for training employees across your organization.
A good training plan boosts your employees' competencies and development and helps them be more effective in their roles.
With 41% of employees quitting their jobs due to a lack of career development, it's clear that training is vital for your people's development.
Well-designed employee training also makes for a "happier, more productive workforce," suggests Steve Penfold, CEO of Elucidat, a specialist e-learning provider.
"Employee training is vitally important to the success of a competitive workforce. No matter the industry, filling the gaps in your employees' professional knowledge is essential to keeping them productive and fulfilled."
- Employee retention by providing career development opportunities.
- Leadership through training-led development.
- Empowerment by motivating and inspiring employees through a compelling vision of business aspirations.
- Workplace and employee engagement through regular re-evaluations of skills.
And, if, for whatever reason, training is not right, your employees will notice and react accordingly.
40% of new-role employees, who receive poor training, leave within a year.
Replacing employees is expensive—up to $2,500 per frontline employee—so the cost of inadequate training can be substantial.
Proper employee training matters and an employee training plan is the first step that you can take to ensure an effective program of training in your organization.
📝 What is an employee training program?
While a training plan gives you a template, a training program brings it to life—it's the vehicle that delivers the benefits of training to your people and your organization.
And if you're wondering how to build your first employee training program, we'll take you through the most critical steps.
❓ 7 Key questions to consider when planning employee training
To create an effective training plan, you'll first need to consider the following:
- The objectives of your training program.
- What employees are looking for from the training.
- How the training activities align with your organization's business goals.
With these in mind, here are seven questions to help you focus on building an effective training program:
Set your training objectives
1. What are your employees' training needs? What are their current skills, and where are the shortages or knowledge gaps?
2. How will the training improve your employees' performance? Will there be measurable capability improvements by learning technical skills? Or will there be less measurable but no less meaningful benefits, e.g., how to communicate more effectively?
3. Will the training promote your organization's people development? Will it address competencies that help your employees take on managerial roles or boost their career progression?
Include your employees
4. What do your employees want from the training?
- What makes them feel more confident?
- What learning methods work best for them?
- Where do their interests lie?
Align your training and business goals
5. How will the training increase productivity? In what ways will the training lead to more efficient and productive workflows for your people?
6. How will the training improve employee retention? Will the training promote loyalty amongst your people by enhancing their competencies and career progression?
7. Will the training support your employees in achieving business goals? How aligned are the training goals with your organization's company policies, vision, and objectives?
🛠 How to create an effective employee training plan in 9 steps
The answers to the above questions will help you design a robust training plan that meets your organization's and people's needs.
The following nine steps are best practice suggestions to get you started.
1. Identify your employees' training needs
The first step in designing your training program is learning about your people's knowledge, abilities, and skills, where the gaps are, and how these compare to role and performance expectations.
Tip: A training needs assessment is the best way to understand the training needs of your people. It uncovers the skill proficiencies of your employees, how frequently they use those skills, and the skill levels crucial for their job performance, as explained by Indeed.
It also identifies who needs what type of training.
2. Align your training and business goals
Once you understand your employees' training needs, compare their needs to the business goals of your organization.
The learning objectives of your training program should be consistent with and promote your business goals.
Consider the modules of your training program as you develop them and see how they relate to business outcomes.
Tip: As you shape your content, look for gaps between the training outcomes and your business goals and adjust the content to close those gaps.
3. Set your training goals and learning objectives
By now, you should know the learning outcomes of your training and the business goals they should align with—this is a good guide for setting your learning objectives.
The learning objectives should address the outcomes you want from the training—such as developing specific competencies, improving employee performance, productivity, and retention. So make sure you design training that directly supports these outcomes.
4. Assess your training resources
Look into the available resources for your training program (and whether you'll need additional resources):
- The training budget,
- The technology you can use, and
- The training materials at your disposal
Are all relevant for understanding the type of training you design and how it will be delivered.
Nikos Andriotis, an experienced IT and e-learning specialist, has put together a helpful checklist for assessing training resources:
- ☑️ Are there existing training materials you can recycle for your training content (e.g., documents, presentations, videos, or other content)?
- ☑️ Do you have access to in-house resources to develop your training content? Writers, videographers, graphic artists, subject-matter experts, and AI content writers can provide valuable assistance in producing quality training materials.
- ☑️ How much access will you have to technology resources such as IT support? You might require help installing and delivering e-learning solutions or other types of modern LMS systems.
- ☑️ What is the training budget? A higher budget may allow you to hire experts to create custom content. A lower budget may limit the type and scope of training you can deliver. When assessing your budget, it's essential to factor in all the training costs involved—direct and indirect—and how they compare to benchmarks set by your organization.
- ☑️ Do you have access to venues for delivering in-person training? This question is relevant only if you include in-person training, but knowing this in advance can help you scope the possibilities.
- ☑️ Are there commercial courses available that cover some or all of your training content? If so, and if the budget allows, this may give you convenient access to an employee training plan template to expedite the setup and delivery of your training program.
- ☑️ Can you use free training resources that are available on- and offline? If you find something that meets your needs, you can save a lot of time and effort by using it.
5. Get buy-in from senior management
Getting support from the top decision-makers in your organization goes a long way toward ensuring success for your training program.
"Leadership support helps drive the importance of a program," explains Shannon Kluczny, veteran trainer and Chief Customer Officer at BizLibrary.
Tip: Following the preceding steps, you'll have what you need for a good training business case, i.e., its benefits, required resources, and alignment with business goals.
It's also worth keeping senior management in the loop as you develop your training plan.
6. Develop the training curriculum
The training curriculum combines what you've gathered so far—your employees' needs, the training goals and objectives, buy-in and (possibly) feedback from senior management, and an inventory of the available resources. All of these will guide you in your training efforts.
Designing a curriculum goes hand-in-hand with your chosen training method (see next step), so you may need to iterate between these steps.
As a minimum, your curriculum should consider the following:
- Content targeting the learning objectives you've previously set, catering to the type of skills being taught (e.g., hard vs. soft skills), and accommodating modern learning needs, i.e., applicable, timely, information-rich, engaging, and having clear takeaways.
- The training recipients: who in the organization will receive the training? All employees, only specific teams or departments?
- Workflow and scheduling: define the time available for training, the frequency of sessions, whether it's self-guided or instructor-led, the sequencing of learning objectives, and an allowance for flexibility.
- Delivery method and materials: define the training format, tools, and medium.
Developing the curriculum is a crucial step that may take you a while to work through.
7. Determine the training method
You can enhance the utility of your training by choosing the most suitable training method for your people and business circumstances.
Tip: Pay attention to recent learning trends and modern training methods, such as microlearning.
Workplace training is evolving. Here are just a few examples of learning methods adapting to the needs of modern organizations:
- remote training vs. in-person,
- gamified learning, and
Modern training comes in a variety of forms, so to make sense of them, Indeed has grouped them into eight types of employee training methods.
1. Technology-based learning is delivered entirely online (i.e., e-learning) or using a hybrid approach involving computers (i.e., computer-based training). This method allows self-paced learning and on-demand access. Still, it's unmonitored, so it's hard to know how well your trainees engage with the material.
2. Simulations are most useful for technical training, e.g., in the medical or aviation industries. They emulate real-world scenarios, so your trainees get exposure to situations they may encounter on the job.
3. Hands-on training is a practical approach that's well-suited for new hires to your organization or people in new roles.
4. Coaching or mentoring is also helpful for new hires, people going through role changes, or those languishing in their current roles. It's a supportive type of training, but it may take valuable time away from your most knowledgeable people (i.e., since they'll be spending time as mentors).
5. Instructor-led training is a traditional approach that allows real-time interaction between the trainer and trainees, but it's challenging to scale.
6. Role-playing is very effective for client or customer interaction scenarios. It allows trainees to practice handling real-world, possibly tricky situations.
7. Video-based training is a quick and efficient way to train your people and a popular alternative to reading materials. You can choose from several formats: animation, live-action, narration-to-camera, or computer screen recordings.
8. Case studies are helpful when you need to train for analytical or problem-solving skills. It often works by giving trainees scenarios to work through, real or imagined, and asking them to find solutions.
Choosing the most suitable method will help to maximize your training's impact on your people and your organization.
➡️ Discover how Zavvy helped to create a customized training routine for leaders at Freeletics.
8. Evaluate your training program's effectiveness
The training effectiveness of your program measures its impact relative to its goals and objectives.
"Quantifying training becomes much easier," suggests Kluczny, once the training needs of your employees "are aligned with the business."
Use metrics like quantity, quality, time, cost, and effectiveness and develop a benchmarking strategy to assess progress against these metrics.
Also, use simple reports that are easy to access, and organize your monitoring approach using regular, scheduled evaluation sessions.
9. Measure, reassess, and improve your training program
To maintain an effective employee training program, monitor your training metrics and effectiveness regularly to understand what you can improve.
Dr. Lisa Evans, Director of the Learning and Design Technology program at the University of San Diego, suggests asking yourself questions like:
- What's working? What isn't?
- Have the learning objectives changed?
- How about your business goals? Have you recently updated your company mission? Should you adjust the learning outcomes?
- Do you need to measure metrics differently?
Use employee feedback to inform your process by asking your people what they've learned from their training, how it helped them, what they liked, and what they didn't like.
A training matrix is invaluable—it brings together the training efforts in your organization so you can stay updated on who is receiving what training and when. It will help you track and schedule all training in your organization.
Tip: Use a training matrix for an overview of training in your organization and how it maps to employees and teams
➡️ Check out Zavvy's ready to use training templates to see how Zavvy can help your people grow through innovative and flexible training solutions.
❌ 4 Employee training plan pitfalls to avoid
Running a training program can be challenging, so be aware of common pitfalls to avoid. Here a four to look out for:
1. Over-burdening your people by expecting them to fit training into their busy schedules without giving them the flexibility or the time needed for training sessions.
2. A plan that can't adapt to changing needs or circumstances: is your training plan flexible enough to accommodate another pandemic disruption, for instance?
3. Training out of sync with employee development is a major shortcoming, as employee development underpins the benefits of training for your people and your organization.
Tip: Create employee development plans to highlight where your training will be most helpful for your people.
4. Not following the best practice suggestions of evaluating your program's effectiveness and following up with your employees, or doing these things but not acting on them.
➡️ Ensure more rewarding training experiences and accelerate learning with Zavvy
Training is essential, and having a practical approach to planning and designing your training matters.
Zavvy gives you training solutions to create effective, flexible, and relevant training programs for your organization.
From intuitive employee development planning to behavioral training that uses scientifically-backed methods—like microlearning and spaced repetition, Zavvy has the tools and expertise to maximize the growth of your people through training.
Zavvy works seamlessly with your existing employee development frameworks and offers complete flexibility in how you set up your training.
Reach out for a 30 minutes demo and see it for yourself.