Training & Learning

The 11-Step Guide to Developing a Great Training Program (Plus 9 Practical Examples)

Developing a high-quality employee training program is beneficial for both employees and organizations alike. Employees thrive when they have the knowledge and skills to do their jobs well, and to develop new skills to support them in different roles. 

Training also increases engagement and employee loyalty because people feel more invested in and prepared for their role. As a result, organizations benefit from increased employee retention, better performance, and higher productivity.

Despite these clear benefits, it can be challenging for organizations to make the switch from highly manual and unstructured training programs (or no training at all) to streamlined, robust learning and development programs. In this comprehensive guide to developing a training program, we'll explore the following:

  • What an employee training program is and the signs of an effective program
  • Our eleven-step overview of the entire process
  • Nine common types of training programs that can benefit your organization

As you read through this guide, you can start identifying how your own training program will take shape, the resources you need, and the actionable steps you can take today.

What is a training program?

Employee training programs provide new hires and employees with general training exercises and access to learning resources. Employee training can develop employees' direct job-related tasks such as handling specific software, technical skills, or soft skills that cross-apply to different roles within an organization. 

Training programs comprise multiple courses or a single class, and they can be part of larger employee development programs. The core purpose of an employee training program is to ensure each employee has the skills and knowledge necessary to adequately perform work tasks and responsibilities. Some common types of employee training programs include onboarding training, leadership training, and compliance training.

9 tips to help you create great training courses

9 Tips to Help You Create Great Training Courses

What makes an effective training program?

Training programs must be carefully designed and managed to ensure effective learning and retention. Some critical aspects that can transform training programs into effective learning opportunities include:

  • Starting from a known baseline: Assessing employees at the beginning of each training program or course can ensure that learning material is properly curated to meet learners' needs.
  • Personalization: Every employee learns differently. Personalization software and capabilities can match learners' with the materials, exercises, and ongoing learning opportunities that fit their content needs, learning styles, and goals.
  • Self-directed learning: Traditional training programs such as all-day seminars, intermittent lectures, and passive access to material is not sufficient. Instead, effective training programs allow participants to learn at their own pace, with online access to learning materials and individual dashboards for tracking performance and completion.
  • Integration with role responsibilities: Many employees will be eager to take advantage of training programs, especially if they want to learn new skills or grow their careers. However, not all employees will have the time or drive to learn. Even employees who want to learn may not have time when faced with a lot of other responsibilities. Instead, make ongoing training and development part of each employee's job responsibilities and ensure there is plenty of work time allocated for fulfilling that responsibility.
  • Rewards and incentives: Tie ongoing development and training to positive outcomes. This can include access to internal promotions and job opportunities, and compensation. Virtual trophies, recognition, and certificates can also motivate employees to participate.

When you're crafting a training program or series of learning courses for your organization, go the extra mile to ensure the program is personalized, rewarding, and easy to access. Developing your training program will be an iterative project: you can present learning resources, monitor performance, and make revisions over time to continually optimize learning for employees.

Related: 23 Employee Training Templates and Checklists for Better Training Programs

How to create a great training plan in 11 steps

According toZippia's research, "Companies with comprehensive training programs have a 24% higher profit margin." Start by developing a training program that meaningfully aligns with your organization's knowledge and skills needs, as well as your employees' goals and learning styles. Follow this eleven-step process to create a new employee training program from start to finish.

1. Conduct a training needs analysis

Just like effective employee training starts with baseline assessments, a strong employee training plan starts with an assessment of what your organization needs. This stage can be as simple or complex as you think is necessary, but it should involve these six essential steps of creating and conducting a training needs analysis

  1. Align the business need with the training initiative
  2. Understand the roles and core competencies in your business
  3. Identify skills and performance gaps
  4. Prioritise training and compare your options
  5. Design learning experiences based on training recommendations
  6. Measure the success of the training needs analysis on overall performance

Looking to conduct your own training needs analysis? Download our training needs analysis template to identify the core competencies for each role in your organization and the highest-priority training areas.

2. Develop goals for your training program

Now that you have a deeper understanding of your organization's current level of knowledge and skills, as well as the gap between the current level and desired level of skill, you can create key objectives and goals for the training program. This can include specific goals such as:

  • Ensuring employees in each role has a sufficient understanding of safety regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Providing salespeople with the right tactical knowledge, soft skills, and product information to make more sales.
  • Certifying all cybersecurity team employees with a necessary degree of credentials.

You can create these goals either by identifying gaps in knowledge that should be addressed or by considering what training goals best align with specific business goals.

3. Develop success metrics for your training program

This stage is all about building the motivational infrastructure and measurement criteria for your learning program. Different types of success metrics you'll need to develop include:

  • Success criteria: At what level of competency will you consider each employee's training to be sufficient, and how will you identify that point?
  • Milestones: Larger goals should be broken down into more granular milestones. For example, a complete training course would be broken down into the completion of courses, which in turn are broken down into the completion of modules.
  • Feedback: Quantifiable results are not the only feedback that should guide development. Plan for ways to elicit employee feedback, so you can revise future training to include more engaging, relevant, or rewarding content.

4. Confirm the type of training program

There are numerous different vehicles and mechanisms you can use for your training programs. These include:

  • In-person training: In-person training involves face-to-face instruction. This may be at off-site seminars, in-person mentoring, on-the-job training, instructor-led learning, and coaching.
  • Virtual training: Online courses, recorded lectures, videoconference seminars, and AI simulations are forms of eLearning.
  • Blended learning: A hybrid approach involves both in-person and virtual training. You can have equivalent options in either category to meet the accessibility needs and preferences of different employees. Alternatively, some aspects may only be available in person, while others are only virtual. Some learning platforms like 360Learning combine the best of both virtual and in-person learning by simultaneously showing learners taking the same course at the same time.
360Learning live learners feature
The 360Learning live learners feature shows who is simultaneously taking the same course.

Robust training programs use a wide array of different types of learning activities in in-person and virtual categories. This ensures learners can move more fluidly through the training program. However, if you are just developing your training program, creating the fundamental materials and then adding more over time may be the best approach.

As you complete this stage, be sure to communicate with other teams, so your program reflects their needs. Many businesses will see the best results with a virtual or blended learning program. Online resources are more accessible for most users. They can also be accessed repeatedly, and training administrators can more easily analyse the results of the training activities.

5. Choose the technology you'll use

Consider the technology that will house your learning and development programs. A learning management system (LMS) is a complete software or cloud-based environment for developing, implementing, and assessing training programs.

For example, your organization could use an LMS that has all the training resources, and access will be granted to each individual employee based on their professional role and learning needs. Their progress throughout the training program can then be monitored and analysed. Most LMSs will have the following functionalities:

  • L&D teams and learners can create, revise, curate, and update content (including learning materials, activities, and assessments).
  • Users can progress through individualized courses, take assessments, and revisit materials as needed.
  • Managers can analyse employee performance and growth to gauge readiness for new opportunities or the need for additional performance improvement interventions.

6. Develop an outline for your training program

Once you have identified the type of learning environment and training methods you will use to achieve priority learning goals, it's time to develop the training program itself, starting with an outline.

Begin by creating a general overview of each topic you want covered; include the fundamentals, actionable concepts, and advanced concepts you want to be covered throughout the program. Each discrete lesson or module should have a goal, or the information or skills users should have by the end of the lesson. 

Along the way, involve stakeholders in related departments or leadership positions to ensure the training program addresses core needs and has buy-in.

7. Design and develop your training program with the help of subject-matter experts

From there, you can pull from a library of learning resources available to you or create your own modules and lessons as necessary. Be sure to work with your subject-matter experts to develop relevant and engaging course material. Learning courses that are created by your experts make the content more nuanced and specific to your company than third-party courses would be.

Leveraging the collaboration between your experts and the L&D team allows you to create and fulfill learning needs together. As a result, employees are more invested in the learning process. They help create quality content that L&D doesn't have to buy or source through expert interviews.

Engaging your in-house experts can help you create a robust learning library tailored to your organization's needs. Even better, some learning platforms can help subject-matter experts create this library quickly and efficiently with the use of Generative AI tools, like 360Learning’s question creator.

360Learning's question generator

8. Implement the training program

You might implement the training program as a pilot program for a test group of employees or release it to all relevant users. During the implementation stage, your program may not be complete or as finished as you'd prefer, and that's okay. This stage is to ensure the program functions, both by having all the technical aspects in place for users and providing educational value to learners.

During this stage, make sure that you or your L&D team is readily available to provide support, answer questions, and make any adjustments necessary for the training program.

9. Evaluate the program

Assess the first run of the training program from multiple angles. These can include:

  • Completion and participation rates
  • Demonstration of knowledge and skills through assessments
  • An uptick in related performance metrics outside of training
  • Feedback from managers and employee participants

This information can help you determine what areas of the training program need further revision. As your organization grows, you may need more product information courses or unique courses for different roles. Each module will also need updates over time.

As technology progresses, you might even have a range of assessments extending beyond conventional methods, such as AI-powered training recommendations and content creation. By taking an iterative approach to your program, it will continue to become stronger and stronger over time.

10. Measure the success of your program

Of course, a good training program doesn't just measure itself. There should be standardised processes for evaluating the courses and each learner. For employees, success might be measured in terms of either isolated assessments or improved work performance.

Choosing the right methods to measure success can help you confirm the value of the program with leadership teams and other stakeholders. The data can be invaluable for justifying increased budgets or growing your organization's L&D team.

You should also go back to the second step—creating goals—and resolve those goals. Did you achieve them? Are related business objectives satisfied by the new training?

Your LMS should have measurement capabilities to help you monitor completion, engagement, and other key L&D metrics. Here's what the dashboards look like in the 360Learning platform to give you an example of the metrics you can monitor to measure the success of your training program.

11. Update the program over time

Based on all the metrics, feedback, and success data of your training program, methodically begin to make updates. You can establish these processes to ensure the training program continues to grow and optimise employee performance.

  • Internal audits: Information about business processes, products, and organization-specific how-tos should be audited every quarter or annual period to ensure it has up-to-date information.
  • Identify gaps: Your training program won't be comprehensive at the start. In fact, your LMS may initially only have courses for a specific team or just for new-hire training. Over time, the use cases for training will expand. You'll also be able to identify smaller and more granular areas where in-depth training makes a significant difference.

Other updates for your program might include migrating to a more robust LMS, building a centralized intranet for internal and third-party learning opportunities, and more.

Nine practical examples of training programs

There are dozens of different employee training programs. Your organization might benefit from role-specific training programs, courses that teach users about legacy software and internal work processes, new hire training, or even resources on how to navigate employee benefits packages and portals. Each one will have different learning objectives, resources, and users, so they will need to be individually curated and organised

As you start your new training programs, consider starting with one of these nine common employee training programs. 

1. Onboarding

Onboarding training programs welcome new hires to your company. There are different phases of onboarding, such as preboarding (which covers orientation, HR topics, and company introductions), general induction and meeting team members, department- or role-specific training, and others. Onboarding training should accomplish two goals: preparing participants for new roles and continuing to "recruit" the new hire so they continue to be engaged past the 90-day mark in their new role. 

Effective onboarding training gives new hires the skills they need to contribute effectively, while also teaching them more about the company and company culture.

What day 1 of onboarding looks like at 360Learning

2. Induction

Induction is a specific subset of general onboarding training, and it's important enough to deserve its own category and attention. If your business has a lot of roles where only one person holds that type of position, then creating a library that holds the knowledge of everyone tangential to the role is essential. 

Good induction training programs allow employees to quickly perform key tasks independently to minimise the window before hiring and transitioning fully into the role.

Related: Induction to Work Checklist

3. Management training

Management training comprises technical and soft skills that will allow new hires, internally promoted employees, or current managers to have the resources they need to thrive. Management training programs can include courses from general third-party management experts, industry-specific courses, or even company-specific material.

4. Leadership training

Leadership training is similar to management training, but it has a different focus, and virtually all employees can benefit from taking part in the training. This type of program prioritises soft skills such as communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, and delegation.

Employee leadership training can help employees develop their own professional skills and make themselves more eligible for internal promotion opportunities. The organization can also use leadership training programs to see which candidates are best qualified for new leadership roles.

5. Compliance training

Industry-specific compliance training is essential for keeping your organization in good standing. Compliance training can cover industry regulations, employee rights laws, safety regulations and requirements, and more. Not only do employees often need to be certified in core compliance areas, but organizations themselves must often provide this training to remain compliant with general or industry-specific requirements.

Compliance courses will often incorporate mandated material from different third-party sources. Having an LMS that can host or deliver curated content from a variety of third-party educational authorities makes it easier for employees to stay on top of mandatory training and for organizations to verify that training is complete.

Related: Compliance Training Checklist

6. Technical skills training

Technical skills training focuses on the "hard" skills that employees will utilize as they perform their job responsibilities, ranging from how to operate different types of machinery to how to perform tasks on company software.

Your organization may need training programs for entry-level technical skills, role-specific skills, and certification programs for professional skills. Some emerging areas of technical skills development include data analysis, AI management and engineering, and people sciences.

7. Customer training

Customer training resources are conceptually very different from other training you develop. Depending on the nature of the products and services you provide, it may be advantageous to provide your customers and product end-users access to training programs. Salesforce, for example, provides free training through its Trailhead program.

If you sell advanced software, complex tools, or even general goods that become more useful for tutorials (such as hair clippers or cleaning products), developing customer training material could widen your market reach, increase customer loyalty, and decrease the risk of frustration or poor user experiences. 

Related: 3 Real-Life Customer Education Examples and What They Can Teach Us

8. Product/software training

Product and software training could be for two different audiences: end-users and customers that need more information to guide their experience, and salespeople or customer success representatives that need an in-depth understanding of every product. For the latter, you can provide employees with in-depth learning programs focused on the following:

  • The target market for each product
  • Popular use cases
  • Features and accessory goods
  • Pricing and promotions
  • Frequently experienced frustration points or frequently asked questions

9. Sales enablement training

Salespeople need in-depth training sessions to perform at high levels. Not only do entry-level salespeople need the training to learn sales tactics for both cold and hot leads, but salespeople of all experience levels benefit from learning about newly emerging sales trends and practising their skills through simulations. Sales enablement training can cover product details, sales processes, key account management tactics, and modules for using tools in your organization's tech stack.

Standardize your training programs

The best employee training programs start with the right learning platform. Set your team—and your program—up for success by automating many of the processes described above, eliminating admin and time wasting. Automation allows L&D teams to focus on the most critical parts of a great training program: providing training that helps boost employee performance.

360Learning makes it easy to assess training needs, create personalized learning paths, and track employee performance, course completion, and ROI. It also lets your employees collaborate and create courses, so they can learn from one another and upskill from within.

Interested to see 360Learning in action?Book a personalized demoto get started.