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How to Create a Corporate Training Program

With a corporate training program, you can develop in-depth and accurate knowledge of specific standards, skills, and behaviors for a team or an entire workforce to apply on the job. When you know how to create a well-designed training program, you can boost productivity and talent retention, while enabling a higher quality of work from an engaged workforce.


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What a corporate training program is not

A manager finds an online video that is “close enough” to how the company completes a regulated process, then sends that link to the entire team to help them gain a new skill. The manager thinks the problem is solved. Unfortunately, new problems emerge when the employees, in different ways, all erroneously apply the information right before the audit. Even with the best intentions, managers and employees can create more harm than good if they do not use a proven training program.

It is easy to identify what is not a training program: there must be a learning objective to be a corporate training program. Examples of when things are not an employee training program may be things you have done as a manager or experienced as an employee. For instance:

  • A PowerPoint file is sent to the team without scheduled time to answer the resulting questions.
  • A process checklist using resources that the employees cannot access.
  • A YouTube video showing materials different than what is used at the company.
  • Any material that does not have a clearly stated learning objective within it.

A true training program and its resources will have clearly defined learning objectives and measurable progress in skill development. Calling something training does not mean it is in fact training.

What is a corporate training program?

Corporate training (employee training) is a learning experience designed to educate employees about a specific behavior or knowledge needed to perform their roles and responsibilities.

These programs are more in-depth for training employees on complex topics or soft skills requiring time and practice to develop. Corporate training programs and employee training programs will have:

  • a collection of classes, resources, and practice sessions,
  • content to meet a learning objective (or a set of learning objectives), and
  • a set of activities or coursework that must be completed over a pre-determined amount of time.

The overall employee training program, and each training class within, should have clearly stated learning objectives with an assessment of knowledge gained.

How to create a successful corporate training program

Creating training does not start with creating a curriculum. Confirming and understanding the business reason that led to the request for training is the starting point. When building a corporate training program, you must:

  • identify the business need for the training (and that should not be only because someone asked for it),
  • develop learning goals for training, and
  • ensure that the learning objectives map to program components.

To get reliable outcomes, use the 8-step training development process to better ensure that the training will benefit the company and the employees.

8 steps to creating a successful corporate training program

When designing a corporate training program, use the 8-step training development process for training that brings value to the company while enhancing the workforce. How long the 8-step process takes will vary based on the complexity of the content. In all cases, never skip steps or complete steps out of sequence.

Step 1: Perform a Training Needs Assessment

A needs assessment ensures that the training program will address the known performance gap or issue. The assessment should:

  • identify the business reason for the training,
  • document the tasks, processes, skills, and knowledge that the employees need to perform their work,
  • capture any simulations or activities that would allow them to practice the new information, and
  • determine the training delivery to maximize application on the job.

A training program is not working if it is not training the employees in the desired skill or behavior. 

Step 2: Keep Adult Learning Principles in Mind

There is much academic research and corporate studies on adult learning. In short, unlike a child, an adult learner will always bring years of experience and opinions. When designing a corporate training program, remember that your adult learners:

  • will expect acknowledgment of their life experience, 
  • need to know how the training will benefit their career, and
  • prefer self-directed components.

Step 3: Develop Learning Objectives

A training program needs learning objectives for the employees to recognize when they have learned what they are supposed to. It takes practice and instructional design training to develop the best learning objectives. General tips include:

  • Use “SMART” so that every learning objective is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
  • Use “ABCD” to design each learning objective to state the actor for the desired behavior, the desired behavior’s description, the conditions for performing the behavior, and the degree of performing it.

Step 4: Design Training Materials

Now it is time to design training materials. An employee training program should have quality training materials that directly support the learning objectives. Regardless of the format of the training materials – documents, handbooks, videos, or presentations – the content should tie back to and reinforce the learning objectives.

Step 5: Develop Your Training Materials

Developing training materials happens in several ways:

  • as a service from an external vendor,
  • in collaboration with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) or 
  • with the internal training team. 

Final training materials should be easily accessible by the employees taking the training.

Step 6: Implement the Training

All training, no matter the duration, format, or topic, should state the expectations of the employees for:

  • behavior within the training group,
  • how long the training will take,
  • the learning objectives, 
  • how to get additional support if needed, and
  • how to assess skill or knowledge growth.

All training should begin with a foundation of employee expectations. 

Step 7: Evaluate the Training

Continuous improvement applies to training just as it does to manufacturing or other industries. To evaluate corporate training, combine these tools:

  • quizzes and tests during the training,
  • on-the-job observations after the training,
  • post-training knowledge assessments via tests or demonstrations, and
  • employee training feedback.

With planning, evaluation can include specific business results achieved because of the training. Select and measure metrics before training. The amount of time needed to apply the skills from the training is determined. Data is compared from pre-training and post-training to find any gain or loss.

Step 8: Repeat any step when necessary

Any training programs will require ongoing monitoring and lifecycle management to determine needed updates to existing materials, gaps for new skill training, and when a specific training should be retired.

Types of corporate training programs

All employee training classes and employee training programs should state learning objectives to help assess later performance on the job. Employee training program elements include but are not limited to:

  • Leadership skills
  • Technical skills 
  • Knowledge specific to the corporate organization e.g.
    • Goals of the organization
    • Onboarding and culture of the organization

The best corporate training includes opportunities for personalized feedback for the employee to guide skill development plus strategic knowledge assessments to measure skill growth due to the training. Learn more about (Link to 350 Article) ­different types of corporate training programs in this related article.

Why do organizations need to provide corporate training for employees?

Corporate organizations that lack the training to build an understanding of how company areas connect or for general business skills, or lack employee training for job growth, are at risk for lower productivity and reduced talent retention. PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PWC) annual global survey of CEOs states that “80% are worried about the availability of key skills, and more than half struggle to find competent new hires.” Employees that the skills to perform their current job or future roles are less productive by default because you cannot apply a skill you do not have. Employee morale suffers without critical corporate training because the company is not enabling them to do their best work.

Why do employees want corporate training from their employer?

The 2022 LinkedIn Workforce survey revealed that today’s professionals are actively seeking corporate training with learning objectives directly aligned to these three elements:

  1. Staying up to date in their field
  2. Supports their specific career goals
  3. Advances career progression for internal roles and promotions

Additionally, when professionals seeking to advance their careers compare opportunities between an organization with an active employee training program versus one without, they invariably go where they will get support.

Summary

Corporate training should fulfill specific and measurable business needs, whether to prepare employees for new responsibilities or hone skills needed for their current role. Regardless of how employee training is developed – with an external vendor, with Subject Matter Experts, or with the internal corporate training team – all corporate training should have clear learning objectives to guide the content development.

The 8-step process for designing a corporate training program helps address the business and employee needs to realize desired outcomes. Companies that provide quality training opportunities to employees consistently have more productive employees that stay with the organization longer.

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