Elements of a Whole-Person Approach to Employee Training

Elements of a Whole-Person Approach to Employee Training

If you think of your learners as a whole person with a life outside of your organization, you may approach training differently. They are not just an employee, asset, or human resource. They are people with hopes and dreams, along with worries and problems. Their after-hour lives can affect their focus and productivity, so it’s in your best interest to provide training resources to support whole-person development.

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force according to the Pew Research Center. What do millennials want from their work? How can you create an environment where they can thrive? Everything they want supports a whole-person approach.

Many companies approach training with a bare minimum, “check the box” mentality. They offer compliance training because it’s required by law and they look for the cheapest resource. They train the employee on the basic skills needed for the job today. This approach is not going to give you well-rounded, well-developed employees. It might give you specialists but they won’t be poised for a future career path or promotion. And it won’t support a culture of innovation, collaboration, or creativity.

If I am just being trained on the bare minimum of my job, I don’t feel like I owe any incremental effort. If I am just a number and you don’t care about me as a person, I will just clock in and clock out. Conversely, if you care about me as a person, I will give you incremental effort and care more about the success of the company.

HSI’s Unique Whole-Person Approach to Training

There are many attributes you can use to compare employee training content: video style, live presenter, computer animation, role-playing actors, interactivity, graphics, music, student materials, exams and quizzes, languages, and more.

Training topics that support the whole-person development of your learners may be a new concept for your consideration. It’s rooted in empathy and genuine care and concern for learners as people. It goes well beyond a “check the box” approach to training to do the bare minimum. It’s similar to a holistic approach to mental health that addresses the whole person and their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. We break the training down into six topics

Elements of a Whole-Person Approach to Employee Training


Any new hire training program is going to start with practical topics and core job responsibilities. These also have implications for the whole-person approach.

Onboarding: An employee’s understanding of healthcare, insurance, 401k, FSA, etc. all affect the well-being of the family. If your onboarding training is rushed or confusing, the employee may make a costly mistake in choosing an out-of-network provider, miss out on saving for their retirement.

Job-specifics: A thorough explanation of access credentials, online tools, software skills, company processes will ease the transition and lower stress for the employee.

Company culture and background: Employees spend more time at work than they do with their families in a day. In the past, many people used to work for the same company for decades. Research now shows the average person will hold 12 different jobs in a lifetime. It’s hard to get a good company culture when you have a revolving door of people fleeing the company. New hire training can help employees make a strong connection to the company and feel a sense of belonging.


Safety training: Effective safety training ensures employees return home to their families safe and sound each day. The information an employee learns about ladder safety, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, first aid, driving safety, etc. can also be shared with family members to keep them safe in their own lives.

Compliance: There is no room for harassment, bullying, or discrimination in the workplace. Effective compliance training will create a safe environment for everyone. Training can go beyond the law and embrace the whole person.

Soft Skills

I think soft skills training may be the largest topic with applications to the whole-person approach to training.

Soft skills are sets of abilities that reflect how well a person gets along with others around them and how well they’re able to identify and address problems. That definition is not limited to just getting along with co-workers. It includes everyone! And having the ability to identify and address problems at work will be useful in your personal life as well.

Active Listening: If someone watches our course on active listening, they might put their phone down and make eye contact when they ask their family “How was your day?”

Time Management: Our series on time management can help parents manage their busy family schedules with chores, carpool, sports, homework, meals, and more.

Setting SMART Goals: Improving SMART goal-setting skills at work can transfer to home life to help children and adults achieve their goals.

Conflict Management: Learning how to maintain self-control and following the acronym EASY (empathize, ask, solve, then confirm with a yes) might help spouses and families resolve conflict at home.

DISC: Understanding the DISC style of your team and co-workers can help improve your interactions and productivity. Knowing the DISC style of your kids can really help you parent them better. When there's sibling fighting, helping them deal with social issues, and conflicts with their friends. It also helps you challenge them to work outside their style and become more adaptable.

How to Build Resilience: A learner can apply the three elements of resilience (challenge, commitment, and personal control) to develop resilience in the workplace and at home.

Our off-the-shelf Business Skills library explores more unexpected topics for soft skills training to truly support whole-person development. A few examples include:

Mental Health

An empathetic employer will be concerned about the mental health of the workforce. Offering a robust benefits package that includes healthcare, employee assistance programs (EAP), and a supportive and inclusive culture are good places to start.

Modern challenges of working remotely and navigating the pandemic add to the usual life stressors from work and family. Training topics to support the mental health of the whole person could include:

Physical Health

Employers can benefit from lower healthcare costs when they do a better job of supporting the physical health of their employees. The basics include providing clean, safe, and ergonomic workspaces. Proper lighting and ventilation, PPE, and safety training are a must. Many companies offer additional benefits like gym memberships, standing workstations, nap pods, onsite massages, and more.

Physical health is another topic where off-the-shelf videos can support the whole-person approach to training. Topics can include:

Financial Health

Financial literacy training for employees has many benefits that support the whole person. These include stress relief, higher productivity, and improved job satisfaction. Effective onboarding of new hires addresses their financial health with clear explanations of how to choose and use health insurance, the power of the 401K match, and the ease of direct deposit.

Thoughtful employers will recognize that some employees may be receiving their first consistent paycheck or feel overwhelmed by student loans. Some employees may have kids opening their first bank accounts or applying for a home loan. It may have been 20+ years since the employee first applied for their own home loan and they need updated information.

Offering financial literacy training will help support these employees to be more successful at work and home. Topics could include:


Managing Credit


Types of Credit

DEI and Anti-Racism

You can’t talk about a whole-person development without addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism training topics. Many people are exploring their privilege on their own. Now, more and more companies are starting the conversation in the workplace.

The goal is to help employees engage in their work in a positive respectful manner, reduce and eliminate discrimination and prejudice, and increase empathy and social awareness. Companies work to keep employees safe from harassment, workplace injuries, and bullying. This is one more perspective for keeping people safe so they can thrive.

Some of our DEI and anti-racism training topics include:

Working Well with Everyone



Unconscious bias, LGBTQ in the workplace, cross-cultural considerations, tokenism, and more.

Self-Directed Learning and an Off-the-Shelf Library

If you are a training department of one, you are probably shaking your head in frustration. You may be thinking there is no chance you can ever create training on all of these topics. Working with a company like HSI and subscribing to our off-the-shelf library of training gives you instant access to hundreds of courses like what we have just mentioned.

Each employee has a unique background, skill set, and life experiences. Opening up the library for self-directed learning allows each person to search for the courses that are most helpful. Our HSI LMS was built mobile-first, learner-first so employees can access it anytime. Sign up for a free trial to learn more.

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