For the first time in your company’s history, you likely have 5 generations of employees in the workplace. Traditionalists (also known as the Silent Generation), Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z. Not all of them learn in the same manner, and not all of them are located at the company headquarters. Training, then, can be a great challenge for your organization. You have company goals that everyone is charged with meeting, but how can you create a program that works for everyone, wherever they are, and delivers on those goals?
The key is understanding your employees and taking advantage of the tools available to you to provide effective training. Follow the steps below and you will be able to create effective training programs that count.
Know the needs
We aren’t schoolteachers, but we can borrow a lesson from them to help build a great training program. Each fall, teachers hand out tests to their students. The tests look at basic skills and assess where students are. Teachers know where their students need to be by the end of the school year, so the tests help them create a roadmap to get students from where they are in the fall to where they need to be in the spring.
The same type of assessment is essential to developing an effective training program. To help your employees grow, you need to know where they are and what skills they need to improve upon so that they can meet company objectives. To learn the answers to those questions, you will need to conduct a needs-based analysis. The goal is to gather data from employees that can be used to identify who needs training and what type of training is most needed to help meet company goals.
Before your needs-based analysis, it is imperative you ensure that employees understand that the goal of training is to help them grow and meet company objectives. You should encourage honesty from employees because without it, you will find it difficult to create an effective program. You also want support from their superiors, because effective training requires engagement from the whole company.
Connect the dots
The data gathered from your needs-based analysis should give you a clearer picture of the gap between performance needed to meet company objectives and current performance. Along with determining what needs to be done, you should also be able to answer the question of why things aren’t being done now.
Training will be the solution for some of these issues, but you may find other answers, too, including information sharing, improving internal communication, and more that will help employees better meet company objectives. Once you have determined where training is needed and can be most effective, you can create a program that meets your employees’ needs and the company’s strategic goals.
Remember, training does not have to be expensive, but whatever investment you make, the goal should be clear— to help employees more effectively meet long- and short-term company goals and to improve themselves.
Explore the options
Get outside your company and your environment to find out what other HR managers are doing to build effective training programs. Take a good look around and benchmark. Ask what others inside your industry and outside are doing. Be curious. Find out what has worked and why.
You may find new solutions or ideas that will help make your training even more effective. Go back to your needs-analysis and see if you may be able to add some of these new options to your training menu.
Make it scalable
The structured learning environment has its place, but so many companies have become boundary-less so it is critical to have a variety of training tools and learning options. Add to that the challenge of finding training that works across five generations with different learning styles and different competencies. These realities make a scalable training program necessary.
Some employees will want and need to access the full training program; others may find parts of the program suit their needs and their time constraints. When your training is scalable, it is available anytime and anywhere, so the company doesn’t need to stop so that training can be implemented.
Instead, training works in conjunction with the workforce. Scalable training programs also take into account the many different learning styles of employees and offers options to accommodate those different styles. The options could include online training, video training, microlearning sessions, virtual reality training, and more.
Recycle and refresh
The suggestions above will help you build an effective training program, but to keep your program strong, you will need to evaluate it every year and update. Provide employee surveys and seek input from stakeholders about the training program so that you can gauge its effectiveness. By analyzing the feedback, you can identify any new or additional needs for your training program.
Effective training programs are not difficult to create and they don’t have to be costly. They do, however, require two things: A clear company mission and knowledge of what employees need to fulfill that mission. The companies that are successful in creating such programs will be rewarded with retention of their most valued employees who understand their investment in the company and the company’s investment in them.
This article originally appeared on hr.blr.com