Studies show that organizations spend approximately $130 billion annually on employee development. However, talent development is the second most significant challenge for human resources professionals. With about 10,000 baby boomers retiring daily, and millennials well on their way to occupying 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, employee development needs to be effective now more than ever. Corporate learning needs to be retained. We need to deliver more effective training for us to reap the type of bottomline benefits the highly competitive landscape requires.

Effective employee training for better retention.

According to a recent study, 94 percent of employees would stay longer at a job if the organization invested in their careers. We can drill down from there. Getting buy-in from managers is critical. Fifty-six percent of employees would take a course suggested by their manager. This suggestion not only leads to increased engagement, but it makes an impact on employees.

Organizations have a high spend on employee development. With these top dollars, are companies making prudent investments? How do we know if employee training is effective? How do we know if it’s making an impact in your workforce?

Here are five ways to implement effective employee training.

1.      Determine Needs & Create a Plan

What are the needs of both of your organization and your employees? For your organization, what are you trying to achieve with your employee training program? What skill gaps do you see? What’s your vision for your organization? Do you see your company taking on new skills, new technologies, or new industries?

What about your employees? Have you asked your employees what they’re looking for in an employee training program? You employees often have a different perspective of their skills gaps than you do. They may identify additional needs that never crossed your mind.

Once you have done some due diligence among your leadership and employees, create a plan. Identify objectives. What results are you trying to achieve?

A recent survey found that only 12 percent of learners apply the skills they learned in training to their job. Those are disappointing results and indicates a waste of organizational resources. If you don’t identify learner needs, you won’t have an effective program.

2.      Implement Delivery Methods

How are you going to deliver your training? Do you have one method? Two? Time to restructure.

Instructor-led, classroom-based training is still popular. In 2015, this delivery method accounted for 49 percent of learning hours. However, employees are demanding more from their employers now than they ever have before. They want training that’s flexible, on-demand, personalized, and relevant. Businesses need to adapt to how their employees learn, and that includes how delivery methods are implemented.

Options for employee training are changing rapidly based on technological innovation, economic changes, employee retention strategies, and the need to keep up with change. These options are requiring employers to mix up training delivery methods. The once-a-year seminar in Phoenix is in the past.

For example, you can use social media or other online options as a resource. YouTube training channels or Facebook groups are two examples of incorporating training for your employees. More than likely, your employees are already familiar with both platforms.

You can also create learning experiences through videos, slides, infographics, or documents through Google Docs or Slack. You can also house training materials on these platforms, enabling employees to pull specific training when needed.

For distance training, you can use Skype or Zoom to train employees. These conferencing services are affordable and easy to use. Additionally, you can share screens, send documents, and write on digital whiteboards on many of these conferencing services, making long-distance training economical and practical.

3.      Know Your Audience

Your employees have unique learning styles. So, like your delivery methods, you’ll need to vary your content delivery, expectations, and preferences. The more you know about how your audience learns and retains knowledge, the more effective your training will be.

Let’s take millennials for example. Millennials learn differently than the two generations proceeding them, primarily because they grew up with technology. Millennials grew up with the Internet, with 500 channels of television, and with a significant amount of data in smaller bites.

Ensure your training adapts to millennials as well as an older work force.

Here are some ways to train millennials effectively:

Whether it’s a millennial, a Gen X-er, a Baby Boomer, a part-timer, or a Gig-er, make your content and your delivery relevant and relatable. You don’t want your audience tuning out.

4.      Create Accountability

Don’t train once and call it a day. Incorporating accountability into your training will help increase retention. When employees know that they will have follow-up, they’ll naturally pay more attention. Accountability could be follow-up with a manager or completing a short test after the training.

5.      Evaluate & Revise

Continue to evaluate and revise your employee training program on an on-going basis. Content is changing rapidly. Technology is developing almost faster than we can keep up. Keep tweaking your program continually so that you don’t fall far behind.

Ask for feedback for leadership and from employees. This can help you measure for immediate satisfaction on the training as well as help you identify where you may still have gaps. Implement analytics into your training. What’s reaching and impacting your employees and what’s fall flat?

When you make improvements, remember to share with your employees. Communication is key. By sharing improved training, you’ll keep your employees invested while you demonstrate your commitment to their professional development.

When you’re planning and creating your employee training, don’t box yourself into a corner. Explore your needs and the desires of your employees. Offer flexibility in training options. Make sure your content is relatable and relevant.

Also, don’t be hesitant to blend digital training with real-world activities. By combining activities, you have the opportunity to make a more impactful impression on your employees, thus improving retention of the information.

Get strategic. Think comprehensively. Tune in with your employees. Measure your results. Make changes. Repeat.

An effective employee training program isn’t a static program. It’s diverse. We’re all moving faster than we ever have. You’re training program should keep up with the times.