Types of employee training
Training & Learning

7 Types Of Employee Training, and When to Implement Each

Recent mass layoffs in tech companies are a clear sign of a potential US recession. 

And the World Bank has warned of a global recession in 2023. 

When companies need to find new ways to protect themselves from an economic downturn, they react with cost-cutting measures: reduced headcount, hiring freezes, budget cuts in research and training, and hiatus on new projects. But, research from the Harvard Business Review suggests new strategies, especially employee training. 

In times of recession, many employees are forced to rethink their career choices or are left questioning the viability of their employer. But with new learning and training opportunities, they can continue to see career growth and gain greater confidence in the ability of the organization to tide over the downturn. 

There are numerous types of training, each one suited for different situations. The right type of employee training at the right time can result in a more engaging, effective learning process for your team and better overall business outcomes—even in a recession.

employee engagement survey

We surveyed 600 learners. This is what they said.

1. Leadership training

Leadership training is a type of soft skill training that focuses on interpersonal abilities, but with an emphasis on leadership qualities and skill sets that directly influence leading others. Leadership training and management training programs are often overlooked but have a trickle-down effect: A lousy manager often results in a bad experience for everyone. Leadership training typically builds on foundational skills, helping employees hone communication skills, project management, strategy, and of course, mentoring and leadership. Leadership training may also build on other types of skills, like crisis management or any kind of technical knowledge required to use management-specific software or tools. 

It’s worth pointing out that leadership training isn’t a replacement for career coaching, but can be supplemented with ongoing training methods. Career coaching helps employees get the most out of their time as working professionals, regardless of role or aspirations. If someone’s interested in leadership, coaching can definitely play a role in guiding them to that role and improving your employee retention as well.

When to implement leadership training

Because leadership training typically builds on foundational skills, it’s best to offer this training to employees who are on track to becoming a manager or those recently promoted into a leadership position. Ask your team members about their career goals if you regularly conduct one-on-ones with them. If an employee is interested in a leadership position, it’s a good idea to meet with the rest of the leadership team and discuss whether leadership training is suitable for that person at this time.

Pro tip: For leadership training to be effective, outline the top-level business goals and identify the skills gaps that are blocking leaders from achieving those goals. Use self-assessment methods along with a survey of direct reports to identify the training needs, and then create your leadership training roadmap. For instance, if a manager identifies their own need for better conflict resolution skills and you see a similar theme in surveying their direct reports, you need to prioritize training in this area.

2. Compliance training

Compliance training is any kind of training every employee must undergo, including safety training and security training courses. This training can cover safety, security, technical practices, etc. Compliance training should cover anything your employees must know for legal reasons, or to ensure the company runs efficiently. This means compliance training can vary a great deal from company to company. Case in point: a restaurant has completely different compliance training than a tech startup would. 

Often, compliance training not only covers responsibilities directly tied to the job, but additional matters like safety and security. For example, anything that pertains to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines needs to be covered in compliance training for legal reasons. If your company has specific rules around locking up the office at night, using certain printers, and so on, that should be covered in compliance as well. 

If you’re unsure about what to cover in compliance training, speak with your employees and ask what their biggest struggles are, and what information they wish they had sooner. Frequent or shared concerns are likely compliance training materials.

When to implement compliance training

You should roll out compliance training any time core tools are updated, new policies are implemented, and security measures are changed. If new information or responsibilities impact your company’s ability to function, both efficiently and legally, it’s time for compliance training—plain and simple.

Pro tip: Compliance training is mainly about rules and regulations, which isn't the most exciting material. You can make compliance courses interactive and fun with gamification. Include a quiz or scoring elements like points, levels, and leaderboards to motivate learners to not just complete, but compete in the training. 

3. Onboarding training

Onboarding training covers any topics essential to starting out at your company. While similar to compliance training, onboarding training is specifically tailored around the new employee experience. 

Onboarding training should cover the essentials all new employees need to know: introductions to tools or software, communication practices, support resources, who to contact about particular issues, and so on. If a piece of knowledge or a tool is necessary for an employee’s first days and weeks at your company, it’s onboarding training material

While onboarding training needs to cover essential info, it’s important this type of employee training isn’t overwhelming. Cover only what employees need to know to get started, then map out the rest of their learning experience. Too much information at once can discourage new talent. Lastly, onboarding training needs to include resources that your employees can refer to later as needed. Consider creating a company wiki or knowledge base to keep internal information handy.

When to implement onboarding training

Onboarding training is your chance to make a stellar first impression. As soon as employees start with your company, have training ready to go. The training should walk them through only what they need to know during their early weeks, adding more information as time goes on.

Pro tip: The four Cs of new hire onboarding are crucial: Culture, Connection, Clarification, and Compliance. But we recommend a fifth one that facilitates the first four: Collaboration. 

With collaborative learning, your new hires build connections and get a peek into your company culture. They can ask clarifying questions and learn problem-solving tactics from peers through discussion forums or reactions. This way everything, including compliance training, becomes easier to complete.

4. Technical training

Technical training focuses on teaching employees how to use technology or tools in the workplace. If a role requires specific software or the use of a particular printing device, technical training should cover that. Technical training can vary in length depending on the tool or software covered. It can range from quick, one-time course or presentation, to much longer and more-involved training.

When to implement technical training

Technical training isn’t always mandatory, as some positions may require minimal to no knowledge of specific technology or company tools. Therefore, it’s possible that not everyone at your company will need technical skills training. If technical training isn’t necessary to do a job well, don’t impose it. Like onboarding training, you don't want to overwhelm your employees. 

For roles that do require it, technical training sessions should be revisited yearly to ensure your team isn’t forgetting any valuable information. It’s also important to revisit this type of employee training whenever there’s an update to the tools or software.

Pro tip: Your technical training should help learners achieve their training objectives. Measure training effectiveness through employee feedback, questionnaires, quizzes, and assessments to get the maximum return on investment (ROI) on your training.

5. Product training

Product training covers the products or services you offer and their selling points. Product training is typically given to salespeople, customer service reps, and the product team. Product or service training teaches employees about the features of each product or service. 

This is different than technical training, as employees are taught about the unique selling proposition for each product or service offered by the company. Product training generally covers topics like features, warranty, and other commonly asked questions. 

The goal of product training is to ensure employees understand what their company offers, both for internal and customer-facing purposes. This type of employee training isn’t a direct replacement for sales training, as the emphasis isn’t on selling the product.

When to implement product training

Product training should be implemented for employees who interact with your products and services, or those in customer-facing roles. Product training is especially important for employees that directly assist customers, and should be included in their onboarding process.

Pro tip: Power your product training courses with a mobile learning solution, so that sales and customer education teams can view them anytime, anywhere. When online training is available on a mobile device, it’s easier for employees to brush up on facts or quickly review a new product feature on-the-go. 

6. Sales training

Sales training is similar to product training, but goes a step further and emphasizes the selling points rather than the granular product details. Unlike product training, sales training focuses on how employees can effectively advocate for the product, navigate difficult customer questions, and promote unique features. Ultimately, sales training should equip your team with the knowledge they need to actively market and sell the product. Sales training often utilizes role-playing to help employees see firsthand how they can sell the products or services.

When to implement sales training

Sales training should be incorporated into onboarding for your sales team, as it’s essential for them to do their jobs. Non-customer facing employees can also benefit from this type of training, to better understand ideal customer profiles and their pain points.

Pro tip: Sales professionals often have a wealth of knowledge from sales calls and meetings. Encourage your internal subject matter experts to create courses and share this knowledge with team members so that your employees are constantly learning and improving. Training courses are more relevant and useful when created by a person who has worked in the same role, so employees get the maximum benefit, and you create a continuous learning culture.

7. Anti-bias and diversity training

Anti-bias and diversity training teaches employees how to respectfully work with and around people from various backgrounds. Anti-bias and diversity training supports soft skills and helps employees understand the many backgrounds people come from and how to be respectful in the workplace. For example, this type of training might cover how to advocate for those around you, how to report workplace harassment or be an ally, and how to react if you witness any kind of discrimination taking place. 

Anti-bias and diversity training often spotlights specific scenarios to educate. For example, a training might explain how certain phrases can be offensive to people of different backgrounds, and if it it were to occur, how that situations should be handled. You can also use interactive quizzes for knowledge checks and assessment, as this type of training is essential to creating a safe, healthy workspace for all people.

When to implement anti-bias and diversity training

Anti-bias and diversity training should be mandatory during the onboarding process when new training courses are rolled out. Your company will likely have numerous types of employee training that fall under this category, as different situations arise in both the workplace and the world.

Pro tip: Anti-bias and diversity training works best with an empathetic approach, in a safe space. Invite employees to anonymously answer a poll or share their real-life experiences with microaggressions and unconscious bias in the workplace. You can then share this data anonymously in an internal course or case study, so learners understand how common these situations are in the workplace. Anti-bias and diversity training covers sensitive subject matter, so give employees the option of asynchronous learning so that they can digest the material at their own pace.

The right platform for the right types of employee training

Knowing when to use each type of employee training program helps you create a culture of growth and strengthens company morale. 

But the right learning platform is also important. With 360Learning, you can scale the learning efforts of your growing and changing workforce by quickly offering the right training to the right people. On-the-job training can lead to a more educated, engaged workforce that feels properly equipped for their role. 

Your employees don’t have to be a part of the 70% who feel they lack the right skills. Want to try it out? Sign up for a free demo and see for yourself.

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