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 human beings with a life outside of your organization, you may approach training differently. They are not just employees, assets, or resources. They are people with hopes and dreams, along with worries and problems. They value a personal life. 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.

Consider the Human Experience: A Whole-Person Approach

When we go through the hiring experience, most of the focus is on job-related experience and skills. Does the candidate have what we, the company, need? After the person is hired, we still focus on training skills needed for the job or for career development.

What about training on topics that are affecting your employees in their personal lives? Offering a full library of training that employees can access on their own can make critical information available when needed.

Do More Than Just Check the Box

Some companies approach training with a bare minimum, “check the box” mentality. They offer safety and compliance training because it is required by law. The goal is compliance not professional development.

These companies are not looking for employee engagement or thinking about whole-person development yet. It’s the right thing to do to make sure people are safe from hazards on the job and safe from harassment, discrimination, and bullying. It’s a good place to start.

This approach can begin to create the foundation of a whole-person learning program. Keep people safe and help people understand harassment, discrimination, and bullying. These are all important goals, but this approach won’t fully support a culture of innovation, collaboration, or creativity.

Train the Person, Not Just the Employee

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. We take a more comprehensive approach and think about the human being. Our thinking is rooted in empathy and genuine care and concern for learners as people.

It’s similar to a more holistic approach to mental health that addresses the whole person and their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. We break the training down into six main areas.

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 or delay saving for their retirement.

Job-specific training:

Company Culture: New hire training can help employees make a strong connection to the company, feel a sense of belonging, and acclimate to their new work environment. Training topics related to your company culture might include ethics, building accountability, civility in the workplace, the art of saying no, cultivating gratitude, and cross-cultural considerations.


Safety Training: Effective safety training ensures employees return home to their families safe and sound each day. Each organization has unique needs around workplace safety management, incident reporting, and chemical management.

The information an employee learns about topics like 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 HR compliance training will create a safe culture for everyone. Training can go beyond the law and embrace the whole person for a deeper understanding of the issues.

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 even friends and family members! 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, carpooling, 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, help 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.

Leadership Skills: An entry-level employee can benefit from leadership training to learn how to be more assertive when managing a charitable giving project for the company. A project manager can apply leadership skills when empowering team members to take the lead on specific tasks.

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. Expanding training into a comprehensive wellness program is even better.

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 for the physical body 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 employees 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 were previously unbanked and may be receiving their first consistent paycheck. Others feel overwhelmed by student loans. Some employees may be 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.

Financial worries can be very distracting during the workday. Employees need to be able to focus and do their best work. 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 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. They are working to create an environment where all employees can bring their full self to work.

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:

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

If you are a training department of one, you may be shaking your head in frustration. You may be thinking there is no chance you can successfully focus on whole-person learning. 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. Request a free trial to learn more.

Additional Resources

Close Menu