Best practices in training and development
Training & Learning

Training and Development Best Practices (Based on Data From 600 Learners)

We wanted to know how employees currently feel about the training and development opportunities they’re offered, so we surveyed 600 employees in the United States to discover how they prefer to learn at work.

What did we find out? Employers don’t consistently measure up to their employees' expectations, which can lead to disappointed learners and ineffective training and development programs. While most employees we surveyed rated their training and learning experience at work fairly positively, only 12% said their training is always relevant. By implementing a few best practices, these companies could achieve a much higher level of employee engagement.

In light of our survey results, we suggest the following training and development best practices to help you create programs that will ensure your people are engaged and motivated to do their best work. Read on for our top tips, or you can grab the full report, below:

employee engagement survey cta

Only 12% said their training is always relevant.

1. Develop a system for transferring your employees’ knowledge

Our survey revealed that 77% of employees have knowledge that would help their colleagues at work, but no one has asked them to share it. You not only miss out on that valuable information, but you also risk losing institutional knowledge when employees leave your company. You could be losing millions of dollars every year due to knowledge-sharing inefficiencies that frustrate your employees.

Companies typically only capture information from departing employees just before they leave, but that information is just a fraction of what your employees store inside their heads. It’s equally important to preserve knowledge from your current team members, so you can share that knowledge with other employees.

Instead of waiting until an employee is out the door, develop a system that regularly taps into your resident experts’ know-how, so other employees can quickly use that information to improve their performance. To get started, ask your managers to identify their department experts, then work with those employees to capture relevant information. Once you’ve interviewed your employees, take that information and use it to create courses and make them available in your learning management system.

You can also give your learners an easy way to declare their Learning Needs by using learning software that lets your employees report where they and their teams need the most support. When your employees are able to report their Learning Needs, your Learning and Development team is better able to create truly relevant courses in the time of need.

77% of employees have knowledge that would help their colleagues at work, but no one has asked them to share it.

2. Implement a peer-to-peer feedback loop

Our 600 respondents told us that they most want to learn from their manager and their peers. Create a peer-to-peer feedback loop to allow your employees to learn from management and other employees.

With a peer-to-peer feedback loop in place, employees can provide positive feedback for one another, which is an effective method for cultivating a healthy culture. It encourages your employees to work together, learn from one another, and ultimately collaborate in an open and respectful environment. In addition, it’s an effective way to increase employee engagement and help employees work more effectively because it motivates them to work toward common goals rather than just personal goals.

We've built feedback loops into our Collaborative Learning platform, in the shape of emoji-style Reactions.

To encourage peer-to-peer feedback, start by giving your employees specific examples of how this type of feedback can benefit their work environment and your company culture. Then, to ensure any feedback given is constructive, create guidelines to help your employees understand how to balance good and bad feedback and set rules for when it’s appropriate to provide feedback. It’s also helpful to provide examples of constructive feedback—offering constructive criticism can be intimidating at first, so including examples gives your employees something they can use to model their feedback on.

3. Customize your employees’ learning Paths

Professional development was extremely important to the employees we surveyed. Nearly 57% of our survey respondents said they would leave their job if there weren’t enough professional development opportunities available.

Learning Paths geared towards personalized professional development are critical for boosting productivity and retaining employees. It’s not enough to throw a few introductory courses together and hope they’ll engage team members. Your training and development programs need to be meaningful and contextual to assure your employees find them valuable.

In addition, if learning is presented in a format that employees aren’t comfortable with, they may miss out on important information or have trouble completing courses. With individualized learning Paths, you can focus on what works best—mobile learning, microlearning, interactive formats—which helps employees become proficient more rapidly by making the learning process more enjoyable.

You might consider taking a blended learning approach by adding self-directed (asynchronous) as well as synchronous training experiences to adapt your employee’s learning plans to suit their unique needs. The more learning formats you offer, the more options you have when crafting your plans.

Nearly 57% of our survey respondents said they would leave their job if there weren’t enough professional development opportunities available.

4. Ask your people what skills they want to develop

The best way to determine what skills your employees want to develop is to ask them. Our survey revealed that 70% of employees want to identify their own Learning Needs. Making your employees learning partners will likely improve engagement by showing your employees you care about their needs.

Taking a collaborative, bottom-up approach allows anyone in your company to submit a training need. Employees can tell you what they want to learn, and L&D can focus on prioritizing your employees’ Learning Needs. In this approach, employees are integral to the training creation process, and it’s a faster, more accurate way of conducting an analysis.

One of the best ways to discover what your employees want to learn is by conducting a bottom-up training needs analysis. Instead of analyzing the traditional, top-down way, where L&D teams or training managers decide in a vacuum what employees need to learn, take a decentralized, bottom-up approach.

learning needs
The 360Learning platform makes it easy for employees to declare their own Learning Needs, and upvote others.

During your analysis, ask your employees what their current skill gaps are and what type of training would benefit them most. You can also ask your employees about their learning wish list to better understand their aspirations. For example, some of your employees may want management training, even if they’re not currently in a leadership position.

Related: Your Approach to Leadership Training is Broken—Here’s How to Fix It

Get inside your learners’ heads

In order for L&D teams to truly help employees thrive, they first need to understand their challenges, motivations, and needs. This article provides an outline of a few key best practices based on what learners say they really want, with some actionable tips to act on that information. For the full picture, you can check out our complete report, here.

Data from this article was taken from a survey conducted by 360Learning of 600 adults in the United States on July 31, 2021, who had received training from their employer.