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Employee training programs vary from company to company, but they always share one thing in common: it’s an important part of both individual and organizational development. When you invest in staff, you’re also making a huge investment in your business.

If you’re looking to give your training programs a boost, I suggest you take a cue from companies with some the greatest training programs, and try to incorporate the following:

1. Start before day one.

The time you have to motivate a new employee and set him or her up for success is limited. Some studies say it’s no more than 90 days. That’s why many companies are now starting the training process well before the person ever steps foot on campus. Lunches, meetings, introductions, and even paperwork before the first day can all help ease a new hire into an organization. Both IBM and Martha Stewart Living have made both employee retention and success the ultimate goal of onboarding and training.

2. Offer hands-on experience.

People learn by doing. If your training program is nothing but talk, you may not be giving new hires the skills necessary to succeed. entrusts entire product categories to employees in certain training programs. This hands-on approach gives staff an opportunity to learn how to manage profit & loss, negotiate with vendors, and get comfortable with responsibilities before stepping into the role.

3. Make development ongoing.

We’ve all been employed at companies where training is only part of the onboarding process. Once you learn how to do the job, it’s pretty much done. But if you continue to invest in your staff’s professional growth, they feel a greater sense of job satisfaction. And satisfaction has a real knack for increasing productivity, improving profitability, and lowering turnover. AmeriCorps has an 80/20 rule, where 20 percent of your time is spent on professional and personal development. People not only learn basic job skills but can explore project management, leadership, etc.

4. Relinquish some control.

Let’s face it: training is often irrelevant, dull, and “more of the same” for many employees, especially when you don’t take experience into account. Think about the learning curve for a recent graduate compared to that of a staffer with five or 10 years under his or her belt. Abbott Labs offers six areas of focus in its development program. And within these areas, trainees can choose their own learning path and walkaway with a broad understanding on the field. If you put employees in control of their own learning, professional growth becomes personal. A great motivator!

5. Go beyond technical skills.

Technical skills ensure the job gets done, but soft skills guarantee it’s done well. If you train on communication, management, and teamwork, you’re developing a more productive, collaborative workforce. Bonobos has established a number of different training initiatives, where employees learn how to navigate relationships with senior employees or how to empathize with the customer. The goal is make employees more well-rounded members of a team.

If you’d like to learn more about how to set up a successful onboarding and training program, or discuss your talent need, please feel free to contact us today. A member of our team is ready to help you build a more productive, efficient workforce.

A Quick Tip on Delayed Training

A training strategy we’re now seeing is what would best be described as a “cooling-off” period, where instead of launching into a formal program, the new hire is given a chance to familiarize himself with the company, culture, and staff. The idea is that the trainee will more quickly learn when he understands the organization as whole and how his contributions fit into the greater picture.