What are training and development programs?
While used interchangeably in some L&D and HR circles, “training” and “development” in the context of employee learning are quite different.
Employee development refers to the overall process by which an employer guides elevating their careers via skills improvement, acquiring new knowledge, and role shadowing.
Employee training is a series of learning programs that are aimed at improving specific skills of an employee. These programs can include a combination of specific courses from technical and compliance training tracks required to teach how to do a specific job.
So after defining these two items, employee training is built within the larger scope of employee development.
Within an L&D team, training programs are a specified set of courses made to ensure that an organization’s employees have the core skills required to perform their roles effectively within the company. Employee training programs are thus compiled of different training course programs that may be assigned to the whole company or specific employees and their departments. This aspect of the program is typically focused on setting a baseline of knowledge and ability across the organization, resulting in an effective workforce that can improve the company’s products, services, and customer experience.
On the other hand, the development aspect of these programs is focused on fostering long-term growth and facilitating individuals to continually develop their skill sets and progress within the organization. This can mean identifying career paths outlining the development required to reach a new role and developing supplementary skills such as leadership and critical thinking that can’t be provided by standard coursework.
The specific implementation of employee training within development programs needs to be tailored to fit the company’s goals and the employee’s needs. Employee training programs may use any combination of the following delivery methods:
- On-the-job training: This involves learning by doing, where employees acquire skills through practical experience and observation while performing their regular duties.
- Online learning/e-learning: With advancements in technology and more people working remotely than ever before, online training has become increasingly popular. It involves using digital platforms to deliver training content to global workforces.
- Classroom training: Classroom training, or instructor-led training (ILT), involves more traditional, formal instruction conducted in a live classroom setting. Trainers deliver presentations, lectures, or workshops to teach participants a set syllabus covering the required knowledge and skills.
- Virtual training: Virtual training, also known as virtual instructor-led training (vILT), is the online equivalent of classroom training. Attendees join a live, virtual classroom session, led by an instructor, and they may also engage with other attendees or participate in breakout groups online.
- Workshops and seminars: These interactive sessions are conducted by subject matter experts and provide an opportunity for employees to learn new concepts, techniques, or best practices through discussions and collaborative exercises.
- Mentoring and coaching: Seasoned professionals or leaders provide guidance and support to less experienced individuals, helping them develop their skills, knowledge, and career paths.
- Leadership development: These initiatives aim to identify and prepare promising employees for future leadership roles. They typically involve a combination of training, mentoring, and targeted experiences to develop leadership competencies.
- Education assistance: Where it would offer significant value or return on investment, organizations can also offer financial support to allow employees to complete academic qualifications or advanced degrees, or attend professional development courses that will help them to excel in their roles.
Companies will work within the limits of their learning operations to deliver both at cost efficiency and scale. Most will choose to deliver their employee training program internally via HR or their L&D department or will opt to use the assistance of corporate training companies.
Why is it essential for a company to have employee development programs?
Employee development programs play a vital role in maintaining and improving employee performance, job satisfaction, and organizational effectiveness. As a part of a wider employee enrichment protocol, a strong approach to continuous professional development can make all the difference when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
Today it is expected that any reputable company would have some type of development program for its employees – top talent won’t be convinced to join an organization that makes no effort to assist its people in their professional development. At the minimum, this could be as simple as providing a stipend for employees to autonomously learn a skill that both interests them and benefits them in a current or future role. However, potential employees may be more convinced by a more rigorous approach to training and development, such as a program with specific training tracks to ensure that they are always making progress toward their next role.
Research also indicates that feeling valued at work is essential to employees, as not feeling valued by employers is commonly cited as a reason for wanting to leave a company. A study by the American Psychological Association found that feeling valued by employers was linked with better physical and mental well-being and that half of all employees who reported not feeling valued said they intended to find a new job in the next year. While other benefits such as flexible working and additional perks may help, a company’s commitment to professional development sends a clear message to its staff that the organization appreciates them. Therefore training and development programs should be a core part of your strategy for improving staff retention.
Finally, and perhaps the most tangible benefit, is that effective training and development programs lead to a more skilled and adaptable workforce. When all of your employees are fully equipped to perform their roles and deal with the challenges they face, you will see better results across your business.
What makes a great employee development program?
As an organization, the last thing you want is for your employees to lack motivation as they feel like they are stagnating in their roles. Many employee development and employee training programs don’t help with this issue, as they’re not meeting the needs of the organization or its employees.
Employee training programs often run the risk of feeling like box-ticking exercises where it can feel like a mandatory chore to be completed within their workers’ time frame. When your people don’t see the benefit of the program, or how it applies to their role, they won’t make the most of it and won’t come out of the experience feeling positive. Therefore it’s essential that your program emphasizes the importance of the training and highlights how it benefits each individual.
To design and deliver a truly effective development program, consider the following:
- Onboarding: What information do your new hires need to hit the ground running? How can you help them to understand and follow your processes?
- Upskilling and reskilling: Do employees have the opportunities to improve their existing skill set, or learn the skills required to transition to a different role?
- Leadership and management training: Are employees able to work towards leadership or management roles, and are they clear on how to reach those roles?
- Technical training: Are employees able to continually develop their technical skills to become more effective in their job duties?
- New and emerging technologies: Does the program make the most of new technologies to optimize training and improve engagement?
- Employee performance: Are employee performance and progress continually assessed, and does this insight feed into employees’ training and development goals?
It’s also important that you don’t stagnate in your approach to development, as even great programs have room for improvement. You should ensure that you’re continually listening to feedback from program participants and monitoring analytics to identify where you can improve your offering.
Examples of Employee Development Programs We Love
While plenty of organizations aren’t giving training and development programs the attention they deserve, many companies are delivering programs that result in highly motivated and effective employees.
1. Google’s Googler-to-Googler Program
Around 80% of Google’s tracked training is delivered by a peer-to-peer network known as Googler-to-Googler. Volunteers contribute to the network by running classes and workshops, developing learning content, and mentoring, covering both technical skills and professional development. A 2021 study by Degreed found that peer learning is the preferred type of training for most employees, meaning this approach to training and development is a good fit for employees.
Why do we love it?
The tech giant is staffed with some of the most brightest and intuitive minds in engineering and beyond. The result? The additional peer training allows already well-acquainted colleagues to learn from others in different disciplines. Using the peer-to-peer (P2P) training model allows learners and instructors to have a conversation about the subject material while also giving each other insight into how each other can improve in their roles.
2. Amazon Technical Academy and Career Choice Program
The Amazon Technical Academy provides fast-paced training tracks for employees who want to transition into a coding career as an entry-level Software Development Engineer. Additionally, the Career Choice program helps Amazon employees pursue a range of academic qualifications through an expansive network of partners.
Why do we love it?
What’s not to love when you have training courses from A to Z? Amazon invests heavily in its employees’ well-being and professional development by both reskilling and upskilling their staff members so they can have the opportunity to work on new and exciting projects outside their regular position.
3. Microsoft Leap
Microsoft’s LEAP program (Leading, Empowering, and Accelerating Potential) is focused on sourcing talent without traditional academic backgrounds and providing accessible pathways into tech careers. This program aims to develop a diverse range of participants into technical roles where they can provide their unique perspectives and drive innovation. The program combines hands-on and classroom-based training with soft skills and professional development to rapidly enable participants to make a difference at Microsoft.
Why do we love it?
The upskilling program utilized by Microsoft is unique in that it sources potential talent from the unlikeliest of places to develop new talent from the ground up. Microsoft has rolled out the program in both Africa and parts of Asia to develop new careers and also a global workforce to build exciting products!
4. Deloitte University
Deloitte University was established to develop leaders through experiential learning across six global campuses. Deloitte’s leadership programs bring together associate and senior-level employees along with key figures in the management consulting industry to help nurture the next effective leaders of the company. Since its launch in 2011, Deloitte University has delivered over 6,000,000 hours of learning, with more than 4,500 recruits and interns participating each year.
Why do we love it?
It’s not all about management consulting and accounting for the Big 4 giant. Deloitte University is the model corporate university by utilizing multiple training programs to progress the skills of their employees so they can excel at their roles in any direction they choose after they’ve left the firm.
5. IBM SkillsBuild
IBM’s SkillsBuild program provides an extensive library of training and learning materials to employees, students, and those looking to transition into technical careers. The program also provides tools to assist facilitators and educators in creating effective learning plans, tracking learner progress, and contributing to meaningful progress toward their student’s development goals.
Why do we love it?
SkillsBuild, like Microsoft’s LEAP training program, is aimed at growing its workforce by tapping into talent that hasn’t been manifested yet. By providing a wealth of information from several training courses, learners can begin to discover and pave their career development journey in tech and business analytics. From high school students to those who are looking to make a career change, IBM provides all the tools and guidance to provide training to aspiring tech workers.
6. Salesforce: Trailhead and Dreamforce
Trailhead is an online learning platform and educational resource offered by Salesforce. It provides a wide range of self-paced, interactive modules and courses designed to help individuals learn about Salesforce products, develop technical skills, and gain expertise in various aspects of the Salesforce ecosystem. Content is organized into “trails” based on themes or specific goals.
Additionally, Dreamforce is an annual conference offering the opportunity for Salesforce employees to network and learn from one another, sharing innovative ideas and new solutions and tools to solve shared business challenges.
Why do we love it?
Salesforce has become synonymous with customer relationship management (CRM) software and their continual support in training both extended enterprise partners and employees is a core reason why. Companies that utilize the SaaS giant’s tools are regularly reminded of the two big events when they log in. Salesforce serves as a reminder to all companies that continually investing in learning operations for users of your product is an absolute must.
7. Chipotle: Project Square One
Project Square One is an initiative to improve operational standards across Chipotle, with a focus on developing stable and efficient teams. The program adapted the training process to ensure that employees had adequate face-to-face training with experienced managers and colleagues, increasing confidence and efficiency. This commitment to nurturing internal talent meant that 90% of hires for restaurant manager roles in the last year were internal promotions.
Why do we love it?
Chipotle’s management team refined their training program for maximum efficiency by looking at key metrics of what areas of the business were underperforming. By observing process improvements as the key goal, they were able to roll out a swift employee training program to offer a refresher course to their employees. Order up!
8. McDonald’s: Hamburger University
McDonald’s established Hamburger University to deliver training internationally, helping employees to improve their skills and perform better, as well as developing their knowledge of critical restaurant procedures, policies, and values. This ensures that employees looking to make a career at McDonald’s are equipped to progress to managerial positions and beyond.
Why do we love it?
Not many people can say they’ve attended Hamburger University. Among the management trainee applicants who apply, it can be harder to get into here than at Harvard! What makes Hamburger University unique is that its management training program is aimed at providing top-level MBA-style learning catered to McDonald’s methodology of fast and efficient service. The program utilizes a solid mix of single-location, instructor-led training at its Chicago campus coupled with carefully synched learning modules for its global group of learners.
9. Heineken: Global Commerce University
Heineken’s Global Commerce University (GCU) bills itself as the “ultimate learning environment.” It takes place within a hybrid learning environment, both within the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam and online, with hybrid learning at the heart of the program. This state-of-the-art program utilizes instructor-led training most excitingly and engagingly possible by including interactive lessons with the beverage company’s most senior instructors along with eLearning modules that cover everything from branding to supply chain management.
Why do we love it?
Global Commerce University utilizes hybrid learning to the fullest. Key learning courses are held with live instructor-led training to engage trainees in the same space but utilize review material using smart and interactive experiences. Keeping trainees engaged in a cool learning environment is usually an overlooked factor in developing an engaging training experience.
Planning the Perfect Employee Development Program with Training Orchestra
While you may be sold on the importance of amazing employee development & training programs, actually designing and implementing a program that’s right for your organization can be a daunting prospect.
A practical training and development program that covers all the bases and meets all of your employees’ needs will likely incorporate a combination of traditional instructor-led training, virtual instruction, and digital learning. Coordinating and delivering training for a large workforce is a massive challenge for many organizations, but implementing a Training Management System (TMS) like Training Orchestra in combination with your existing learning management system (LMS) can make the processes and planning much more efficient than you thought.
Planning large employee training and development programs can be a logistical challenge especially those that are heavily dependent on instructor-led training and hybrid learning coursework.
Training Orchestra helps to organize your trainer resources and optimize training scheduling in your organization, ensuring that learners are assigned the best trainers and saving your organization money. Training reporting and analytics can also help you to identify what’s working and what isn’t, break down how your budget is being spent, and prove the return on investment for your training initiatives.
Training Orchestra – Training Operations Management System
For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has helped over 600 training companies, corporate L&D departments, and associations worldwide to address instructor-led training operations management challenges for their employee, customer, partner, or member training programs. We’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of corporate L&D and training businesses.