Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revamp Your Employee Training Program

Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revamp Your Employee Training Program

When things change and evolve in your company, you'll notice the little details telling you that your training program is in need of updates as well. Revamp as a verb means "give new and improved form, structure, or appearance to." So, it doesn't necessarily mean a total gut rehab.

It's kind of like the old paint in your family room. When you get a bright new rug or hang a new piece of art, you notice the drab walls need updating too. And then you want a new sofa, light fixture, and a bigger TV, but I digress.

Here are the top 10 reasons you may need to revamp your employee training program:

Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revamp Your Employee Training Program

1. Leadership change

When leadership changes hands, it means a number of other changes will cascade through the organization. Will the organization's focus change? Will some skills be emphasized over others? Will the values of the company change? Under Tim Cook's leadership, Apple has acquired many innovative companies. This likely shifted the training focus from innovation to diversity and cultural considerations.

2. Strategic plan change

Perhaps your leadership has not changed, but the direction they want to go has. A change in the strategic plan can mean new skills are needed, both for employees and for managers. If a sea-change is happening at your organization, get ready to retool your training program to accommodate the new vision. When Netflix decided to separate their DVD and streaming businesses and started creating their own content, I am sure their employee training programs were revamped to help meet this new vision.

3. Rapid growth

If your organization has grown rapidly in an organic way, chances are good that the growth has outpaced what your employee training program can handle. In this case, you find that you cannot onboard new employees quickly enough and overwhelm employees with a workload that leaves no time for training and risks burnout. It will quickly become apparent that your current program cannot keep up with training needs.

4. Merger or acquisition

If your organization has grown suddenly due to a merger or acquisition, the challenge will be different. You have to consider different learning cultures, technologies, and content. Are the cultures compatible? What are the expectations on policies and procedures on training for employees and managers in this new organization? Can one of the technologies easily scale or do you need a new system? Is the content still relevant? How much new content needs to be created?

5. Downsized department

Company growth can mean that your needs outpace your training capacity. Capacity can also shrink if your department loses personnel due to budget cuts.

Think about what that might mean for your training program. Will you be able to use a smaller team with less budget and still meet the organization's training demands? If your organization has primarily focused on instructor-led classes, how can the smaller team keep up? If you've become a training department of one, or two, you may need to consider using off-the-shelf training.

6. Insufficient reporting

Insufficient reporting is one of the biggest challenges for employee training programs. If you do not define your goals and measure the appropriate metrics to ensure progress toward those goals, you'll have no way of knowing whether your training is effective... or how it might be deficient.

One of the most uncomfortable moments comes when leadership asks about the efficacy of a training program, and you realize you don't have the right metrics or evidence to back up your claims one way or another. Time to revamp and find the platform that provides robust reporting.

7. Poor ratings

If you do a survey after training has wrapped up, you might find that attendees just weren't that into it. Are you seeing comments like "We've done this training several times already and it's repetitive," or "This training really didn't seem to address issues going on here right now," or "I was bored." Are you seeing more "thumbs down"? Are exam scores dropping? Is attendance down?

I think many trainers put their heart and soul into their courses and would take immediate action to address poor evaluations as quickly as possible. Sometimes the workload and resources do not allow for timely changes.

8. Disengaged learners

If you are doing surveys and evaluations, as I just mentioned, you may see indicators of disengagement. In a classroom setting, you can observe the posture, eye contact, and level of participation. You can also, unfortunately, hear the snoring and see the empty seats. It is more difficult with online training to identify disengaged learners. You can run reports on the number of people logging in and taking courses and see high numbers, but learners may still be disengaged and simply going through the motions.

9. Outdated content

Sometimes the content itself will tell you there's a problem. If you have training videos with clothing and hairstyles from a decade ago, that's a clear sign you're overdue for an update. (And no, you can't just wait for it to come back in style someday!) Outdated graphics and music can be a giveaway, too.

Outdated content is more than old visuals, it's about the actual content and learning points. A current course on the types of communication at work should include text and instant message with little or no mention of faxing. Safe driving training should include cell phones as a possible distraction. It's probably the main distraction.

10. Lack of modern topics

Your training program as a whole might need to be revamped to take into account more recent topics, issues, and laws. California, Connecticut, Maine, New York state, and New York City all have unique requirements around harassment training. Other modern topics include opioid addiction and active shooter situations given their current relevance. The same goes for digital media and phone addiction.

Some topics naturally have a "window of relevance." Remember Y2K? Or more recently GDPR? I would bet that more and more training courses will begin addressing how to work with "Generation Z" in addition to "How to work with Millennials." (Did you realize the "elder millennials" are nearing 40? "Elder Millennial" term borrowed from the comedian Iliza Schlessinger)

Don't Let an Outdated Employee Training Program Linger

Now that you know what to look for, you might "notice the paint peeling" on your training program, too. Now is the time to fix it. Keep in mind: On average, 40% of employees in the U.S. leave their jobs within the first year because of poor training. Quality training, on the other hand, helps employees feel valued, fosters innovation, and has an appreciably high ROI.

Additional Reading:

As you take steps to update your training, you might find these resources helpful:

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