What are the Most Effective Training Methods for Employees?

In the words of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and one of the 20th century’s most successful business people, “the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.”

Indeed, the business value of an effective training program, and the implementation of employee training methods, seems self-evident: a incisive study by LinkedIn found that a staggering 94% of employees will stay with a company long-term if there are training opportunities available; furthermore, 87% of millennials – projected to represent three-quarters of the workforce by 2025 – reported that job development is an important consideration in employment (LinkedIn). Similarly, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) concluded that companies are up to 218% more profitable when they offer formalised training programs (ATD).

But with so many educational avenues and training methods available – instructor-led training, reviewing case studies, on-the-job training, online training, group discussions, social learning and so on – it’s little wonder if your business is struggling to find the optimal resources, techniques for onboarding. Just what are the most effective training methods for employees? That’s the question we’ll answer today. At Sliced Bread Animation – leading animation studio and developers of virtual reality training, as well as animated explainer videos and gamification projects – we’re well-versed in cutting-edge, future-proof employee training methods. To tell us about your next project and explore some innovative new concepts, get in touch with us today.

Why is Choosing a Training Method Important?

Whether for new employees or long-time staff, the first thing to say is this: committing to employee training programs is well and good, but your selection of employee training methods is vitally important in determining ultimate success or failure.

It’s one of those situations where the way it’s communicated, matters as much as the message. Done right, employee training is a great way to foster staff retention and accelerate onboarding processes. As recruitment and career specialists Indeed put it, “When a new employee joins the team, they are typically excited and eager to learn all there is to know about the company. Existing staff members also need training to learn and develop skills. In either situation, the method is just as important as the material” (Indeed).

Your choice between the different types of training methods is crucial because people acquire knowledge in different ways; in this sense, you need to focus your efforts on ‘360-degree employee training,’ that speaks to several different learning styles simultaneously.

Generally speaking, learning styles can be split into three categories:

  • Visual learners: Learn by seeing and watching
  • Auditory learners: Learn by listening and absorbing
  • Kinesthetic learners: Learn by doing and demonstrating
gamification in education

What is the purpose of the training program?

This question is deceptively nuanced. Clearly, the top-level purpose of any training process is to improve the knowledge or skills of the learners – that much is obvious.

But just as the most successful business goals are those which are ultra-specific, the most effective employee training sessions are those with laser-focussed intent. So beyond ‘increasing knowledge and/or skill’, what could the purpose of a training program be?

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common motivations behind training methods for employees:

  • Onboarding of new hires and interns
  • To gain familiarity with new software or equipment
  • To reduce operational costs
  • (Re-)orientation
  • Coverage of a labour shortage
  • Diversification of roles and responsibilities
  • A push to improve customer relationships
  • Career development
  • To meet new or changing business needs
  • A restructuring of admin and organisation

What are the Different Types of Training Methods?

When it comes to the different types of employee training methods, there might be as many variations as there are reasons for beginning the program in the first place. Over the years countless new techniques have been proposed; while some fell by the wayside as the business world developed, others took hold, became traditional training methods, and are still with us today.

The list is extensive, including but not limited to:

  • Virtual reality or augmented reality training
  • Instructor-led training courses; lectures, seminars and so on
  • Revisiting historic work, by way of case studies
  • Hands-on training
  • On-the-job training
  • Animated explainer videos
  • Group discussions
  • Social learning (observation and imitation)
  • Gamified experiences
  • Simulation training
  • Role-playing
  • Computer-based training (CBT; not to be confused with cognitive behavioural therapy)
  • Mobile learning
  • Mentorship
  • Interactive training

Each technique comes with its own unique set of pros/cons, and presents a range of different benefits or challenges to a business. Which one ultimately proves to be the ‘right’ or ‘best’ training method for employees very much comes down to the unique nature of the project, workforce, and content. The techniques that are effective in teaching fire safety to first responders will be less successful in onboarding legal interns in the judicial process, for instance.

7 most popular methods for workplace training

With the above information in mind, we’ve focussed-in on some of the most popular training methods for employees and explored them in a little more detail below. Note that the following is not intended as a ranking, but more a selection of the most effective training methods.

1. Virtual reality training

Virtual reality training is the most advanced method for upskilling and onboarding employees, drawing on sophisticated technology to create a virtual environment for learners to explore and acquire knowledge at their own pace. Research by PWC returned some incredible results, including the findings that virtual reality training can facilitate knowledge acquisition 4x faster than traditional methods, and leave employees feeling 275% more confident in practical skills (PWC).

The reasons for this are manifold; but essentially, it boils down to the fact that VR training dovetails perfectly with the way our brains are programmed to function. As human beings, we process information extremely effectively when it is transmitted via narratives, and we learn best by ‘doing’ actions. Virtual reality training allows this, and also supports trainees with multiple learning styles. Get in touch today to discuss the possibilities of training your staff via virtual reality.

2. Mentoring or coaching

Some might look at a program of mentorship as a refinement of that oldest of educational techniques: social learning – the phenomenon of ‘watching, learning and doing.’

Having experienced team members coach new employees carries many of the typical upskilling benefits, such as improving retention, fulfilment and staff value. Furthermore, it allows professional relationships to develop in the workplace. The impact of this should not be underestimated; a strong bond between co-workers is a powerful fuel for your productivity levels, and it helps create a harmonious, positive atmosphere; one that is conducive to quality and development.

3. Animated explainer videos

Animated explainer videos leverage brand-centric visual storytelling, clever animation techniques and well-placed audio elements to create an impactful content experience that stays in the mind of your audience long after the video itself has ended. Far superior to conventional PowerPoint presentations, animated explainer videos are a high-value, cost-effective and impactful method of communicating new information and educating employees.

Here at Sliced Bread Animation, we’re experts at crafting high-impact and engaging corporate videos for more effective and streamlined training processes. Contact us now to discuss your next project.

4. On-the-job training

Overlapping broadly with hands-on training, on-the-job training means your new employees get straight to ‘the bread and butter’ of their role and responsibility; that is, gaining real-world experience of the actual tasks they’ll be expected to perform on a daily basis.

Of all the various training methods for employees, on-the-job training perhaps gives new hires the most independence in their own development. Staff are tasked with improving their skill set autonomously, acquiring and applying the practical skills needed to become a valuable employee of your organisation.

5. Instructor-led training

Educating staff in a classroom might be the most traditional training program adopted by companies. Unsurprisingly, instructor-led training involves one or more experts delivering a lecture, seminar or other form of orthodox ‘teaching’ practice to your employees, often within the context of a classroom.

In recent years it’s been suggested that instructor-led training is of most value when it includes at least some elements of group discussions; for trainees to reflect, review and reinforce the content. With that said, instructor-led training yields demonstrably low retention and engagement levels, and is generally viewed as a somewhat antiquated or non-optimal training method.

6. eLearning and CBT

eLearning, sometimes referred to as computer-based training or simply CBT, uses computers and digital channels as its primary channel of communication. The key difference is that while eLearning occurs totally online (hence sometimes called online training), the CBT umbrella includes any offline educational experience that uses a computer.

Notably, eLearning doesn’t require a human trainer, so represents a significant cost saving on that front (although you might find some employees struggle to engage with a training program lacking ‘the human touch’). CBT is also completely scalable, so it’s adaptable for use by a team of three or 3,000 staff members.

7. A gamified experience

Increasingly in corporate and enterprise industries, gamification is being deployed as a method of learning, development and training. Essentially, gamification marries concepts of video game mechanics and business content to create an emotive, engaging and, crucially, interactive training experience.

It is this element of participation that makes gamification such an effective training method. It uses clever digital construction techniques so that trainees (consciously or otherwise) feel that they personally are invested in the education; there is something at stake, they have ‘something to play for.’ This may be manifested in components such as a customisable character, dynamic leaderboards, or minigames.


What are the constraints?

Naturally, the specific training methods you select each have their own set of pros/cons, logistical requirements, costs, and other considerations that can, at times, make them something of a challenge. Generally speaking, more innovative training methods – such as virtual reality training or eLearning – tend to be less restrictive than traditional training methods, such as instructor-led training or mentorship.

With that said, here are some of the most commonly-experienced constraints for businesses when it comes to establishing a course of one or more training sessions:

  • Availability of instructors or teachers
  • Finding a workable time to hold training sessions
  • Budgeting concerns
  • Lack of appropriate hardware and software
  • Staff in multiple locations
  • Higher-priority business demands
  • Hesitancy over finding ‘the right’ training programs

How to Choose the Right Training Methods for Employees

Selecting and executing effective employee training methods takes time and work. It’s not something you can just throw money at and expect quality results from; businesses need to take control of their training methods for employees and create highly-targeted training sessions that allow the content to really resonate.

Before you waste revenue and time on a training program that isn’t suitable, consider asking yourself, your stakeholders and your staff the following questions:

  • How many employees do we need to train?
  • Do we have records of training sessions that have worked well in the past?
  • Ultimately, what is (or are) the objectives of this training program?
  • How extensive can we make the budget?
  • Are we restricted at all by logistics or equipment?
  • What is the culture of the company, and which media formats could align with this?
  • Are we aiming for an ‘information explosion’, where staff learn a lot in a short timeframe, or do we want something more like a ‘pathway to education’?

Spending some time with these questions will put your business in the best possible position to carry out a successful, memorable and quality training process; educational experiences to expand employee knowledge, and elevate the quality in your workplace.

Still from Health and Safety Training Game of a quiz section

Discover the Best Employee Training Methods Today

As an award-winning animation studio, we’re great believers in the transformative power of innovative technology, so we’re more than convinced that digitally-powered communication is the most effective way to transmit engaging and immersive content. That’s not to say that traditional training methods are defunct or obsolete – just look how far they’ve taken us as a business culture… and even as a civilisation! It’s more that, with the incredible potential offered by sophisticated technology, the door has opened on an entirely new world of education opportunity.

Take for example the revolutionary results returned from virtual reality training programs, such as the VR employee training we developed in partnership with Knights Agency to realistically simulate workplace scenarios and develop soft skills. Then there are gamification projects to create an engaging and immersive experience; or animated explainer videos, which communicate complex messages effectively and efficiently, as in our IT security animation with CyberArk.

The employee training possibilities are truly endless, and represent the most time and cost-efficient way of upskilling staff, onboarding new hires, teaching interns and developing the potential of your organisation. To find out more or to chat about your next training program, get in touch now.

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