Employee training

By Kat Boogaard

You’re rolling out something brand new for your company. Maybe it’s a new tool, an adjusted policy, or a refined process.

Whatever it is, you know that this change will be a big positive for your organization – at least, once you can get everybody up to speed.

Regardless of the size of your team, you know all too well how challenging it is to get every single person on the same page and in the groove. That’s where effective employee training comes into play.

Does employee training really matter?

According to the “State of Workplace Training” survey released by Axonify, only 31% of the workforce reports that they receive formal job training. Of those that do, a whopping 33% report that they think it’s only somewhat or not very effective.

But here’s the thing: a lack of adequate training for your staff doesn’t just frustrate them. It can actually make a major impact on the success of your entire organization. Here are a few of the many reasons why.

Reason 1

Improves your workforce’s skills

Investing in training for your employees leads to a more skilled and more knowledgeable workforce. They’re given the resources and information they need to do their jobs well and thrive in your culture.

As a result, productivity can skyrocket.

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In an IBM study of more than 3,100 U.S. workplaces, it was concluded that a 10% increase in training can lead to a 9% gain in productivity – nearly a complete return on investment. 

Reason 2

Employee training increases engagement

Adequate training also gives employee engagement a healthy boost. That’s because you’re demonstrating your investment in helping them succeed on the job. You’re quite literally putting your money where your mouth is.

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In that same Axonify survey, 92% of respondents stated that having access to the right kind of training positively impacts their job engagement.

A separate survey ranked training as one of the perks that would make employees feel most loved at work, even above mentoring or the chance to sleep in once per month.

Reason 3

Employee training boosts your bottom line

It’s a pretty simple equation: greater productivity + happy employees = good things for your organization. 

The statistics are there to back up this simple calculation.

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One study found that businesses that spent at least $1,500 annually per employee on training earned 24% more profit than those businesses who had lower training costs.

Plus, we haven’t even touched on other training-related benefits, like improved employee retention, higher morale, and fewer mistakes, that are sure to make a positive financial difference for your organization.

What counts as employee training?

Employee training represents any effort you take to educate your workforce. In his article for When I Work, writer Rob Wormley gives a breakdown of times when you might need to implement employee training:

When to implement employee training:

  • You have a change to your company policies
  • You have a lot of new hires 
  • You’re rolling out a new business practice
  • Your current training is bare bones at best
  • You’ve noticed a sticking point or slow-down in productivity
  • You’ve changed to a new technology
  • Your business is growing at a rapid rate

For simplicity, we’re going to use the above circumstances as our foundation. You’ll notice that none of them refer to teaching a new employee the ins and outs of their daily responsibilities. That falls more under the new employee onboarding process, which we already covered in detail in the second chapter of this ebook. 

Instead, we’re going to think of employee training as a company-wide initiative you take when you need to introduce something new that applies to everyone.

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A survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans discovered that 80% of employers say their staff members don’t even read their benefit materials. And 50% of employees say they don’t understand the collateral that’s provided to them. 

Employers need to go a step further than just providing benefit documentation to employees. They need to help them comprehend that information.

Meeples signing graduation ticket

6 tips for effective employee training

Avatar of Lacey

Meet Lacey. She works in the HR department for a mid-sized software company, and they’re working on rolling out a new payroll management platform that they’d like their entire company to use. 

She’s tasked with getting everyone up to speed on how they should be using this new solution. If she’s being honest, she feels a bit in over her head.

With this example in mind, let’s dig into some tips that Lacey (and you!) can use to ensure that your training makes an impact.

Tip 1

Carefully consider your timing

As with anything, timing is key. If you choose an inconvenient or unrealistic time to host your employee training, you’ll have a much tougher time getting your employees engaged in the process. 

For example, is the end of the quarter the best time for Lacey to train her sales reps on a new piece of software? Probably not. The team would want to invest all of their time and energy into closing deals and meeting their quotas. 

It seems obvious, but when you’re eager to get a training rolled out and checked off your list, this aspect is easy to lose sight of. Make sure you give it some consideration, otherwise you’ll sabotage your training before you even get started.


Finding the right time for training takes on a whole new meaning when everyone is remote or distributed all over the world (and time zones). Learn how the fully remote Zapier team uses Trello to onboard and train their new hires.

Tip 2

Enlist trustworthy trainers

Meeple avatars of diverse team

Over 70% of employees working at some of the largest, most recognizable companies in the United States report that they don’t trust their HR department there

Fortunately, there are things you can do to overcome this level of distrust, and enlisting the help of other people to conduct your employee training sessions is a great way to do so.

Lacey could get up in front of that marketing team and give them a walkthrough of how to use a new platform. But, is that really the most impactful way to do so? Or, would she be better off handing over the reins to an operations department employee who has been playing with the platform for the past several weeks?

Sometimes the best trainings come from the people who are actually in the weeds and know how these changes, whether it’s a new process or an altered policy, will impact the day-to-day. So, if you aren’t already enlisting their help, you should be.

Tip 3

Give employees a chance to take action

Not everybody learns the same way, but it’s a safe bet that most of us learn by actually doing the thing we’re trying to grasp. Unfortunately, not many employee training sessions work that way. Instead, they’re often an information dump and then the trainees have them fend for themselves.


Give your employees opportunities to put what they’re learning into action. This follows the principles of the 70-20-10 Model, which states that employees learn 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with other people, and 10% from formal education.

See how you can incorporate some of that experience piece of the puzzle directly into the training. For example, Lacey could have team members download their pay stubs from the portal to show how easy it is (and go green by eliminating the need for paper stubs). Or, she could give them access to that platform ahead of the training so they can add or verify personal details, upload a picture, request vacation days and more.

Granting them that hands-on experience gives them an opportunity to actually put new knowledge into action (and, as a result, it’s far more likely to stick with them!).

Tip 4

Document everything

Research found that the average human attention span is only eight seconds, which means that if you think employees are absorbing and retaining every nugget of wisdom you share in your training session, you might want to rethink that.

That speaks to the importance of documenting your training. That way, as employees begin to put new knowledge into play, they have something to refer back to.

Save yourself some work by creating a simple template that you can replicate and use again and again to document your training. (Confluence makes it easy with ready-to-go templates.) Make sure to include:

  • Date of the training
  • Subject the training covered
  • Goal of the training
  • Who the training applies to
  • Steps employees must follow
  • Links to supporting resources

Doing so gives you a skeleton that you can use when documenting any future trainings and helps you avoid forgetting any important details.

Pages of charts and pencils

Use Confluence to document your employee trainings and empower employees to use that new knowledge.

Tip 5

Keep the conversation going

Lacey wrapped up her training sessions about the work management software. Many organizations fall into the trap of assuming that training is a one-and-done sort of thing.

It’s far better to keep the conversation going. Following the training session, share the notes and other relevant resources with employees, and then open the door for questions and ongoing conversation. 

For example, Lacey could create a channel in their chat platform or set up a collaborative document where people can pop in with their challenges and suggestions related to what was covered in the training.

Keep track of employee training plans, progress, and feedback with a Trello board.

Keep track of employee training plans, progress, and feedback with a Trello board.

Doing so shows that she wants to help teams use what they learned and help them do their jobs more effectively.

Tip 6

Solicit feedback regularly

Finally, there’s one more straightforward way to vastly improve your employee training: ask employees for their feedback.

Do they think the trainings are effective? What could you be doing better? Are there certain topics they wish you’d cover in future sessions?

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Research from Udemy found that 70% of employees believe training could help them improve their focus and time management. Yet, 66% have never actually asked their managers for training.

Be proactive about asking for feedback from your employees. It’ll be incredibly valuable as you continue to improve your training efforts.

Put these tips to work

Employee training can be a heavy lift, and that can lead many organizations to just blast the information out there and hope that it sticks.

There’s a far better way to get your employees up to speed. Put the above tips to work and you’ll create employee training that is helpful, valuable, and a win-win for everyone.

Employee benefits

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