How to develop a training programme for staff

Training can have a positive impact on performance and productivity, and provide your employees with the tools they need to drive your business forward.

A training programme involves looking step-by-step at the skills your company really needs.

Rather than taking an ad-hoc approach to training, a plan ensures your training stays on track and your budget is spent in the most effective way possible. It forces you to outline objectives, deliverables and specific skill gaps that need to be filled.

This guide explains how to develop a training programme and what you can do to measure its success.

At the end of this article we've also curated a list of other pieces of content you might find interesting and useful.

Identify your training needs

The first step in creating a training plan is to carry out an audit.

Think about what the company needs, but also what your staff need too – you won’t see any benefit if you can’t get people engaged. Find out what your employees are passionate about and the training that will make their jobs easier.

Consider skills that:

  • Improve your employees’ performance
  • Help to create better managers
  • Increase employee engagement and retention
  • Make your business more competitive

Set objectives for the programme

Objectives are important because you have to know where you want to go with the training and what you want to achieve. Staff training without direction wastes your time and theirs.

Your objectives should define what an employee will learn and what they will be able to do by the end of the training. Think about the steps along the way too – if your training plan lasts for three months, what should they have learned in the first month?

Carefully thinking about your objectives saves time and money in the long run. It stops you biting off more than you can chew by choosing a topic that’s too broad or complex.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How will employee performance improve after the training plan is complete?
  • How will the training positively impact our business goals?
  • How will this training engage employees and improve retention?
Derek Eassey, VP at Brandwatch
Case Study.

Help your staff with upskilling or they’ll look elsewhere

Find out how your staff want to learn

A common mistake? Creating a training plan for employees – without consulting your employees.

Training plans work best when they’re shaped by your staff. Most of the time, your employees will know exactly what training they need to do their jobs more effectively.

It might be training in Google Analytics, so they don’t need to make decisions based on year-old data. Or, it might be training in a project management tool to keep future projects on track. Involve your staff members in the process and listen carefully to their suggestions.

Factor in different learning styles

Everyone learns differently. Find out what motivates your employees and how they prefer to learn so you can incorporate the most relevant employee training methods.

Some people find live, interactive workshops more engaging, while others prefer online courses where they can go at their own pace.

Remember, if your employees aren’t engaged with your training programme, you won’t reap the benefits. Be flexible.

Plan the format for your training

How your training plan works will depend on what your employees want to learn. For digital skills (like learning how to use Google Ads or Microsoft Excel) there’s a wealth of information and useful resources online. Other skills might require a qualified instructor to be present.

There are lots of different employee training methods. Here are some of the decisions you need to make when planning your training.

Is the training designed for an individual or a group?

Individual training can be tailored to your employees’ needs and means they can complete the training in their own time. It works well for complex topics or hard skills (for example, learning a new coding language) where your employees won’t all work at the same pace.

Group training, on the other hand, works well if you need to train a large group of people at the same time. For example, training designed to enhance soft skills (interpersonal skills such as communication and listening) will apply to a number of different departments.

Will the training work best as seminars or workshops?

In seminars, one person stands at the front and teaches a subject through a presentation. Seminar-style training is usually focused on a specific skill or process, like understanding how to set up paid adverts on social media.

Workshops are more collaborative. In workshop-style training, your employees will be encouraged to split off into teams and brainstorm or roleplay.

Do I need an expert or can an experienced employee run the training?

This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make. You might baulk at the idea of paying for staff to work with an expert and decide that an employee could do a good enough job. However, try to be honest with yourself about how much an existing employee could teach.

On-the-job training works if you want to teach junior employees some practical skills. However, in many situations, an external expert will be beneficial. They should have experience with teaching complex material and understand how best to communicate a subject.

How to fill skill gaps in your business

Five simple steps to defining the skills you need

Get feedback from your employees

Once you’ve rolled out your training plan for employees, it’s important to measure its results. Find out:

  • How the sessions are going (are employees engaging with your training method?)
  • Whether the training is being completed in full
  • How effectively employees are applying their new knowledge to their job
  • What staff liked or didn’t like about the programme

If your training has focused on particular skills, track improvements to employee performance. What impact has it had on their productivity or quality of work?

Generally, training works best when it’s in small sessions that become part of a routine. If you need to run an intensive day-long session at first, try to run a few shorter sessions afterwards where employees can put their skills into practice.

Build a culture of learning

Your training plan should reinforce that you care about employee development. Ideally, the sessions you create will be the first step in building a culture of learning and development at your business.

  • Encourage employees to watch recommended TED Talks or read books that will help them to upskill and develop
  • Set up a “Lunch and Learn” programme, where you provide the lunch and an employee trains other staff members on their subject of expertise
  • Remind managers to talk to staff about their career development in one-to-ones and recommend potential training opportunities

A training programme can improve motivation and morale across your business. By providing the tools and knowledge employees need to do their jobs effectively, you should see a boost in your company’s productivity too.

Most importantly, a training plan should positively impact your employee retention rate. If your employees know there’s an opportunity for development and career progression with your business, they will be more invested in their future with you.

What to do next?

We have a wide range of content dedicated to helping you solve crucial business challenges, but here are some suggestions:

Enjoyed this article?

Sign up to receive more advice and guidance-based content to help you improve your business.