Whether you are recruiting new staff of you’re introducing a new system which your existing staff need to know how to use, staff training is something you will need to address at some stage.
Many people assume staff training simply to be about showing someone who to do a job and then that’s it, they’re trained up, no need for further learning.
We never stop learning and we never stop developing our skills and knowledge. When you assume you know everything, you’re on a slippery slope towards failure! The same can be said for managers; a manager who thinks they have completed their training is a manager who is not going to inspire their staff towards greatness. There is always more to learn, always more to discover, and by adopting this mindset individuals can continue to grow and meet their potential, and businesses can benefit directly, increasing their success levels.
Knowing where to start can often be the biggest sticking point when it comes to staff training. What programmes are best? How should you do it? How can you encourage your staff to take it seriously? How does it link in with the work you’re doing?
These are all questions you need to address whilst deciding on the best way to deliver training, or choosing the best external organisation to conduct a training session for your staff.
This guide is going to give you the entire low-down on staff training, including giving you a few hints and tips on how to make it fun, inspiring, and engaging for your employees. Let’s be honest, we’ve all sat at the meeting room seating before, bored out of minds watching a video about something which is supposed to benefit us.
This type of training session doesn’t grab the attention and as a result, anything you hear is unlikely to stick in your mind and be used throughout your working days. Put simply, these types of training sessions are a total waste of time and resources!
Creating fun, innovative and truly engaging training sessions is the number one step towards helping new information sink in, developing new skills, and gaining benefit in the end.
So, let’s delve into the wonderful world of staff training!
The Importance of Focusing on Staff Training And Development
The human brain is like a sponge, always seeing out new information and soaking it up for future use. We often soak up information that is truly useless, usually a random video on social media which teaches you that llamas are descendent from another type of animal - you know the type of video we’re talking about!
The bottom line is that we watch these videos because on some level we’re hungry for knowledge. You might think that it’s simply because you’re bored and the video looked cute, but somewhere deep down, you found the content interesting and engaging.
If you prevent your staff from learning new skills and knowledge, you’re basically dumbing them down. You’re preventing them from meeting their potential, you’re affecting the way they feel about themselves and you’re damaging their confidence. For the reason, focusing on staff training and development should be one of the biggest priorities your business has.
Of course, there are many myths and fallacies around staff training and development, usually linking into it being a waste of time and money, but how can new knowledge and skills ever be a waste? Check out this useful infographic which outlines a few of those myths and breaks them down into the truth.
Source - https://elearninginfographics.com/professional-training-10-myths-infographic/
By investing in your employees in this way, you’re investing in your business at the same time. The skills and knowledge your employees obtain can be used to boost their performance, increase their productivity and therefore ensure that your business is more profitable as a result.
From a personal point of view, we all feel more confident in our own abilities and better in ourselves when we learn something new. It’s an achievement and it helps to boost confidence. When confidence is high, morale is high, and there is that sense of being able to achieve anything. Now, when several employees feel that way, can you imagine the benefits and impact it has on your business?
Mentorship And Coaching Explained
One of the easiest ways to help a new member of staff settle in, or guide a younger member of staff through a new task or knowledge piece is to try mentorship or coaching. Both terms are very similar but have a slight difference in approach.
Mentorship is a long-term deal, which is informal and based around an on the job model. We’re going to cover on the job training in a little more detail later on, but mentorship gives an employee a trustworthy and experienced nominated person to go to if they are unsure of anything or they want to ask a question. It also covers a programme of learning which is carried out at a mutually agreed time between the mentor and the employee.
Coaching, on the other hand, is more intensive and over the shorter-term, but certainly more formal. Coaching is likely to cover a set programme of learning which is delivered intensively throughout a working week. Both models work well, but mentorship is usually better suited to a working environment, as the mentor and the employee both have other work to do in the background, i.e. their daily duties and responsibilities.
The main advantages of having a mentor are:
- Improved confidence and self-worth
- A person to go to for reassurance and in order to ask questions
- The ability to develop competence within a particular area
- A bond of trust is built up between the mentor and the mentee
- Mistakes are likely to be less
- The ability to practice and further develop communication and listening skills for both the mentor and the mentee
- The knowledge that the person mentoring is highly experienced and knowledgable
Check out this video which highlights the main traits which a good mentor needs to have, as well as giving food for thought on the entire subject:
Mentorship doesn’t have to be reserved for new members of staff or younger, inexperienced staff members, and can also be used when an existing staff member is given a new responsibility or when someone is going through a particularly difficult time, which may have damaged their confidence. The informal approach to mentorship is ideal for helping staff to learn without actually realising it - if you picture how a child learns, that’s usually the best approach, i.e. we teach children through play but they don’t realise that they’re learning important skills at the same time.
Mentorship also gives employees confidence and someone to approach if they have a question. There is nothing worse than wondering how to do something or why something needs to be done, but not knowing who to ask, or worrying that you’ll be laughed at if you do ask. In this situation, you would ask your mentor and the bond of trust you have built up together means that you will trust their response and know you’re not going to be ridiculed for the question.
How About a Learning Zone in Your Space?
Have you ever considered incorporating a learning zone into your office space? This could be a fantastic idea if you want your employees to undertake online learning or as somewhere to go to look up certain questions and answers. Remember, the human brain wants to learn, it is curious and wants to soak up new information!
This type of space needs to be informal and relaxed, to encourage staff to go there and perhaps look things up, learn new things, or conduct their own research. Think about opting for multi-functional office furniture, which can be moved around according to need and will also give you a back up if you need to relocate desks and other types of furniture at other times.
It’s not likely that employees will spend a huge amount of time in this space, so that means they’re not going to require specific ergonomic furniture. You could think about mesh chairs, to give a more informal feel, or how about high stools?
This type of learning zone feeds the human desire for new knowledge and you could also encourage staff to undertake accredited training courses or learning online, allowing them to use this space.
Attempting to do this at their regular desk is likely to mean they can’t concentrate due to the noise, or they might be interrupted and asked to do a specific task. This type of learning zone, therefore, places importance on staff training and development and allows employees to really focus. If you want to add an innovative and active working feel to your learning zone, how about using a height adjustable office desk? Sitting and standing basically means exercise, boosting oxygen flow to the brain. This will help your employees focus and concentrate on what they’re learning more effectively!
Are External Training Days a Good Idea?
There are many ways you can deliver training, but external training days are an option. The question is, are these a great idea?
In some ways yes, and in some way no. It really depends on the type of content you’re attempting to deliver to your employees as to whether this can be done within the office environment or whether it needs to be something which is delivered externally.
For instance, if you have a large group of employees who need to undergo the training, sending everyone to an external training day is going to be costly and time-consuming. The work within the regular office environment still needs to be done and everyone heading off on a training course, either all together or staggered, is going to impact on productivity.
If the content is only pertinent for a few members of staff, an external training day could be a good choice, or you could send a couple of members of staff on the course and then ask them to deliver the training back to their colleagues, once they feel confident enough to do so. As we mentioned, it really depends on the technicalities of the content as to whether this is an option or not.
If delivering the training back is a good choice for your office, these small training sessions could be held in booths, allowing staff to ask questions and have a more one-on-one or small group feel to their training session. This will also give more confidence to the staff members who are delivering the knowledge back.
Encouraging Personal And Professional Development
Focusing on your employees and their personal and professional development helps them to feel like you value them and you care about their future. This boosts morale and therefore increases productivity in your office space. So, aside from giving them the training, they need to do the job, how else can you encourage personal and professional development in the workplace?
Here are a few ideas you might like to look into:
- Offering a training budget for each member of staff - This can be a set amount which is allocated to every member of staff each year, covering their training requirements. This can be accessed by staff members if they want to do personal training, provided it is linked to their job role. For instance, is a member of staff wants to learn how to do flower arranging, obviously, this wouldn’t be pertinent, but if they wanted to go on a course to learn leadership skills, this could be something they could use their learning budget to benefit from. Of course, this also benefits the business too.
- Offering online learning sessions - Look into various courses online which may benefit your staff and encourage them to utilise them. You could offer them perhaps an hour per week to do this during their working time, and if you add in the learning zone we mentioned earlier, they will be able to sit and concentrate, benefiting from the knowledge and skills they will be learning.
- Identifying training needs at staff appraisals - Appraisals tend to strike fear into the hearts of employees, but this isn’t actually what they’re for! This type of staff development review (a far better name) is to help identify specific training needs, so employees can access training to fill in the gaps and help them develop towards meeting their potential. Of course, businesses need to be open to offering these training opportunities too. so, when you’re sitting around the modern boardroom tables for your annual review, think about the types of subjects you’d like to learn about, provided they’re linked to your job.
- Having an open-door policy - If employers are approachable, then employees are far more likely to feel able to approach them and discuss training needs. If the manager seems to be closed off and not interested, employees are far more likely to simply carry on and not think about developing their current skills.
Being open and encouraging towards learning is the single best way to help employees feel interested and inspired. This means they’re far more likely to want to learn new skills and knowledge, benefiting them and the business overall.
Is On-The-Job Training The Best Route?
Helping an employee to learn a new role usually consists of either off the job training or on the job training. It could also mean a combination of the two. Is one better than the other?
As with everything in life, both types of training have their pros and cons and it really depends upon the situation and the type of job you’re training someone in. For the most part, however, on the job training is the most common type.
Check out this video which explores the pros and cons of both on the job and off the job training models.
Perhaps the best option is to go down the route of on the job training, incorporating mentorship at the same time, but supplementing this with external training courses of online training. By doing this, you’re covering all bases and ensuring that the employee has different levels of stimulation. When learning becomes samey or too repetitive, we don’t focus as much as we should. Having said that, repetition is something we do need to focus on, as we’re going to explore next.
The Importance of Repetition in Learning
Take your mind back to when you were at school, perhaps when you were learning the alphabet. Did you repeat it over and over? Did you sing it in a song during class?
Your teacher wasn’t attempting to be annoying by asking you to do this, he or she was tapping into the power of the mind and the single best way to remember something and learn - repetition.
You could also think about positive affirmations. If you know anything about these, you’ll know that you come up with a statement which you want to believe in, and you repeat it until your mind takes it to be true. Again, you’re using repetition to hard-wire your brain into learning and believing the thing you’re telling it.
If you want to learn effectively, it’s repetition you need, all the way!
There are other learning methods you can tap into, in order to help you soak up knowledge like the most absorbable sponge. Check out this very interesting infographic which talks about the main principles of how the brain learns.
Source - https://elearninginfographics.com/brain-learning-principles-online-training-infographic/
By understanding how your brain works and how it learns and remembers new knowledge, you can improve your learning experiences in life!
Standard Employment Training Requirements
Aside from learning new skills and knowledge, there are certain standard training requirements which every single member of your staff needs in order to work safely and effectively within your organisation. The basics are:
- Fire safety training
- Manual handling training
- Infection control training - Helping to lower the instances of sickness at office desks
- Health and safety awareness training - Employees have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act, and these need to be outlined in this type of training
- Conflict resolution training
- Basic first aid training
- Time management training
- Stress management training
- Health and wellbeing awareness training
By giving this type of information and training to your staff members on a regular basis, you’re ensuring that they’re healthy at their office chairs and also that you’re covering all the bases in terms of legislation.
How often should you give this training? It really varies and depends upon the organisation, but the standard model is to give new employees induction training, covering all of the above bases and also giving information on business specifics, such as pay, pensions, employment rights, etc. From there, many businesses use a rolling programme model, which gives every employee a standard training update every year. This updates them on fire safety, health and safety, manual handling etc, and reinforces important information.
In addition to this, whenever new legislation comes into place or any changes within the workplace, additional training should be given according to need and in a way which is suitable for both the employee and the productivity of the workplace.
For instance, if you are about to install a new software programme which is going to completely replace the one you have already, everyone is going to need training. Despite that, you can’t suddenly close the office and send everyone off for training. In this case, you would need to stagger the training and have a set number of employees leave their trendy office furniture and attend a training session. This would need to be coordinated over a period of time, to ensure minimal disruption.
After that, a period of transition would need to occur, before the system goes completely live. This type of model minimise disruption to the business but also ensures that employees feel confident in the change. If you simply drop the change on them and don’t give them sufficient training or fair warning, morale is going to fall lower than temperatures during a winter cold snap!
The Importance of Continuous Management Training
If you’re a manager, do you think you know everything there is to know about managing your employees? Do you have all the leadership skills you need?
If you’re nodding your head, sorry, but you’re not a very good manager!
Nobody knows it all and there are constantly new and changing innovations that you need to know about. You do not go into a management job and that it, you know everything and you’re the best manager in the world! The greatest managers know that they can always continue to learn and develop and they do their best to soak up new knowledge, learning from other managers and the employees they have around them.
Check out this video which outlines the very basic management skills, which you should then continue to build upon.
Whilst this section of our guide doesn’t need to be lengthy, the point is extremely important. As a manager you should never stop learning and improving!
10 Ways to Make Training More Engaging For Employees
Let’s suppose that you’re about to create an in-house training session for your employees. This is a good option because it allows you to save cash on external training courses and you can have the course on your premises. This gives you more control and allows you to design the area, e.g. with a round office desk to ensure everyone can hear and give their input.
So, you’ve decided to deliver the training yourself or have speakers visit your space, so how can you make training engaging and fun for your employees?
Here are a few ideas:
- Mix up the training session with practical exercises and theory - If you have too much theory your employees will become bored, and if you have too many practical exercises, they’re not going to know what they’re supposed to be learning! An even mix of the two is best. Of course, this means planning out the content carefully beforehand and having hand-outs which you can give to your employees. They can follow the session as is it happening and take the hands out away with them for references too.
- Ask for suggestions on how they want to learn - Why not ask your employees how they want to learn? Do they want one long session? Would they prefer staggered sessions? Would they feel more comfortable in smaller groups? Ask for suggestions and plan out your training accordingly. By doing this, your staff will be more comfortable and more engaged, focused on what they’re learning.
- Identify the main points and don’t dwell on the unimportant - Surely you’ve been to a training session which has rambled on and on about things which aren’t really that important and failed to press home the main points enough? These types of sessions leave you bored, uninspired and a little confused. Instead, identify the main points and ensure that you don’t focus on the wrong things.
- Make sure the training environment is comfortable and supportive - Encourage your staff to attend the session in comfortable clothing, make sure the seating is supportive for the amount of time they’re going to be in there and open the windows to get plenty of fresh air and natural light into the space. These are all ways to help people concentrate and feel more able to soak up new knowledge. It’s impossible to concentrate when your back is hurting, the room is too hot/cold, and you just want to go back to your regular desk and get on with your work!
- Consider the decor of the room - Whilst we’re not suggesting that you repaint your space simply for the training session, it is worth thinking about the decor in general. Choose a learning space which is bright and colourful, perhaps with blues, greens, and yellows. These colours are known to boost focus and concentration, as well as creativity. Add in office furniture in the same kinds of colours too.
- Add in some group games, but not too many! - Not everyone enjoys playing games in training sessions, so don’t add in too many but it’s a good idea to have the odd game or activity in order to break up the concentrating and allow employees to learn through doing, rather than listening. This can also help to boost the team feel within the room and the overall morale.
- Remember to have regular breaks - Nobody can learn and concentrate for too long, so make sure that you have regular breaks throughout the session. This should include refreshments and snacks, as well as the chance for everyone to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Factor in breaks when designing your training programme, so everyone knows when they can expect a break.
- Consider several sessions, rather than one long one - Whilst you should ask your employees what they would prefer, several shorter sessions is usually a better idea than one very long session. It’s not impossible to go for the latter, but employees will have their new knowledge reinforced far more effectively by more than one session. Remember earlier when we talked about repetition? Having multiple smaller sessions helps to reinforce the knowledge and press home the main point.
- Have different speakers to mix things up - Having different speakers throughout the session is a good idea, as employees may become bored by hearing the same voice! This also allows everyone to learn from different speakers and different insights into the subject. When organising the programme, make sure you confirm the speakers who are going to be attending their specific times, to avoid problems on the day.
- Focus on different learning methods - Remember, not everyone learns in the same way, so make sure that you mix things up. You’re likely to have different generational groups in your room, different ability levels, different job roles, and everything else in-between, so having a varied approach to the training session will make sure everyone benefits.
Approaching staff training as a matter of importance and urgency is the single best way to ensure that everyone benefits in the best way.
Far too many businesses view staff training as a chore, something which needs to be done in order to tick a box, but it should be viewed as an opportunity for overall improvement and development all-around. By viewing training in this way, everyone benefits, but the productivity and profitability of the business are sure to rise over the long-term.
Managers sitting at the best executive office furniture are not exempt from training either! Every manager needs to continue learning and developing their skills and knowledge, in order to inspire their employees to do the same thing.
Remember, by investing in your employees, you’re investing in your business in the best possible way.