Employee training programs have been part of the business world for more than half a century, dating back to World War 2 when supervisors had to learn necessary skills to train their employees. As women began to enter the workforce and technology exploded, new employee training methods began to form and grow in popularity.
In the past, employee training consisted of instructor-led classroom style, job shadowing and role playing. Today, it includes skilled learning and development leaders, onboarding experts, and sales enablement teams that deliver highly-effective sales methodology content. As effective as they are, employee training programs are often thought of as a cost center instead of a revenue generator.
Sales training typically falls under new employee onboarding costs, but what if we thought about it as part of the overall compensation package? What if we shifted our perspective to view employee training as something that can attract and retain top talent and be seen as an employer benefit and differentiator? What if we viewed it as a way to generate revenue instead of a cost to onboard new team members?
Change your perspective to uncover new ROI
As businesses grow and evolve, so does our understanding of how to run an effective business. Many tenets, management strategies, and corporate beliefs that used to be gospel are now considered wrong or highly situational.
Part of the problem lies in the way we develop our employee training programs. In the traditional model, employee training and onboarding looks a lot like school. Trainees are spoon-fed enablement content and company practices in classrooms with blackboards. Even a “modernized” Learning Management System for employee training falls into the trap of dumping all the information on the trainee at once.
It’s like drinking from the firehose, and actually generates worse results for the business.
Ineffective training and poor onboarding results in decreased employee engagement and retention. It erodes the employee’s confidence in their role, and they’ll eventually leave for better pastures. In fact, in August 2021 alone, a record 4.3 million people left their job s intentionally, and employees say they are twice as likely to look for another job after a poor onboarding experience. Replacing employees not just a headache but is also incredibly expensive, costing one-half to two times their annual salary.
(PRO TIP: Here’s our guide to teach you how to create a successful onboarding program )
Worse, management loses faith in what employee training can accomplish. They don’t realize that it’s the training method that failed, not the employee training program itself. They get so discouraged that they don’t look for a better way.
But there is a better way. You just need to look for it.
Employee training is evolving
Multiple studies show that reinforced micro-learning is much more effective than one-off training experiences. All training programs, even when supported by Learning Management Systems or LMS, become less effective the further away they are from practical application.
Trainees learn better from just-in-time content and micro-learning platforms because the information is surfaced the moment they need it. When digestible, small content resources are delivered in the flow of work, employees spend less time searching for answers and can apply what they learned right away. Lessons are learned within context, which makes it easier for trainees to grasp and retain.
This insight becomes more important now that training has shifted to remote-first amid the pandemic. It’s harder to retain a trainee’s attention for hours at a time if they’re not on-location and have no one to ask for help. Sadly, it's been reported that 71% of employees spend at least an hour a day looking for an answer to questions. Micro-learning helps alleviate Zoom fatigue and improves retention by breaking down sales enablement content into digestible chunks.
Technology’s role in employee training
The average tech stack today consists of 137 SaaS applications. Given the number of tools modern workers are required to use--and the amount of training they need to learn them all--it’s important to make your employee training plan as convenient as possible. Employees now have higher expectations and want custom training content that is engaging and accessible from their fingertips.
Fortunately, technology is up to the task.
There are now more employee training tools available than ever, with the B2B enterprise space offering 45 different categories of sales-related apps alone! Additionally, many of them are mobile-friendly, which help cater to this new always-on culture.
Rather than try and remember everything from a training session, there are a variety of digital adoption platforms and digital enablement solutions that replace the LMS. Where an LMS uses a digital approach to the traditional learning model of spoon-fed instruction, a digital adoption platform allows the employee to truly learn how to use and adopt a new tool faster. As a result, the need for repeat training is minimal and employees experience faster ramp time.
Digital enablement solutions go a step further. Not only do they simplify training on new digital tools, but they contain a repository of content for quick searches or deeper learning. Even better, they are the next-generation layer of productivity. With customizable workflows and pop-up content, digital enablement platforms not only teach employees how to use a tool or do a specific task, they are able to receive ongoing training past the point of onboarding.
Combining a digital enablement platform with a just-in-time learning approach allows businesses to do more with less. Employees are able to learn and retain information quickly and get started selling more quickly. As a result, organizations spend less money by reducing the need for repeat training or extra personnel to oversee additional training programs.
Speaking of costs...
How much should employee training programs cost?
Just because training is important, doesn’t mean you should break the bank getting it done. A good rule of thumb is that training costs should be worth around 1-5% of an employee’s salary. This should be scalable by headcount, allowing you to offer employee training solutions to as many team members as possible.
If you’re looking for an actual dollar figure, research indicates that in 2020, employers spent an average of $1100 per employee . This amount has risen steadily year over year between 2008 and 2020.
Why you should invest in employee training programs
Training is not a zero-sum game. When you invest in your employee training programs, it will generate multiple positive outcomes, all of which will help accelerate your revenue gains:
More confident employees. Both new hires and tenured employees will be able to feel more comfortable in their roles as solutions become more complex. For example, sales reps that benefit from ongoing product training will be able to speak to prospects more confidently. When they are confident, they’re more successful, which makes the employer more successful.
Increased productivity. Learning how to use a tool better or knowing the most effective way to perform a task will drastically increase your employees’ productivity and speed. It’s important to impart this knowledge early on, because untrained employees can develop bad habits that will be difficult to overcome.
Less turnover. Employee training programs result in more engaged, successful, and knowledgeable employees. LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Report found that companies ranked highly for employee training experienced 53% lower attrition than other organizations.
Fewer disruptions for experienced staff. Brooks’ Law states that experienced personnel often have to set aside their work to train new staff, which introduces more delays and, in the case of seasoned Account Executives, diminishes their earning potential. Having a formal training program and a library of resources reduces the need for AEs to get involved, thus protecting their time and productivity.
A change in mindset
By combining micro-learning software with just-in-time training content, you’re better positioned for a successful employee-centric training program. When delivered through modern digital enablement and adoption platforms, employee training transitions into long-term learning that goes a long way toward helping your workforce ramp faster and begin earning you money more reliably - while also keeping employees fulfilled and confident in their work.
But it all starts with you. Perception is everything and goes beyond increasing your budget to give enablement leaders more opportunity to develop robust training programs. When you view training as a revenue accelerator instead of a cost center, you’ll be more likely to see all the opportunities for your business and the gaps you need to fill in order to seize them.