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Training serves myriad purposes in the workplace. Sometimes it’s a legal requirement, especially for job duties centered around compliance or technical procedures.
Training serves as the method for onboarding new employees—getting them up to speed on what they’ll need to know and do to thrive within your organization. One recent study in the European Journal of Training and Development even “highlights the importance of training satisfaction as being key to achieving greater work engagement and reducing voluntary turnover.”
Turnover is an expensive and time-consuming phenomenon for companies of all shapes and sizes. But it’s a very real risk when employees feel disengaged from their roles, as people are more likely to seek greener pastures if they feel like they’ve brushed up against the barrier of learning and accomplishment in their current position. Furthermore, forward-thinking companies invest in training and optimize their procedures to fill in skills gaps and boost productivity.
However, although the end result tends to be positive for everyone involved, many organizations have a hard time getting employees truly engaged in training. Here are a few tips for making the most of these sessions.
Optimize the Physical Layout
The actual presentation space has an impact on how trainees receive the lesson. Avoid allowing haphazard setups to emerge as people file into the room, as these can negatively impact the message at hand. Set up the room with intentionality, with chairs in parallel rows angled slightly toward the center aisle. This allows for maximum visibility and allows participants to see each other’s body language.
Make Training Sessions Interactive
Many of us associate training with a lecture. Let’s face it, we’ve nearly all attended at least one training session that could only be described as “dry,” “dull” or “by-the-book.” Training has gotten somewhat of a bad rap because traditional methods of imparting information involve a one-way flow from a speaker to an audience. This makes it all too easy for listeners to disengage, no matter how important the lesson is.
Interactive, instructor-led training activities improve upon this passive learning model by harnessing audience response technology to give trainees an active role. For example, real-time online polling can be used to check retention, reach group consensus and allow participants to ask honest questions anonymously. No matter the exact format, interactivity goes a long way in boosting engagement.
Target the Right People with the Right Lessons
Many employees have experienced the frustration of being required to attend a training session that has little to nothing to do with their roles. It’s one thing if the lesson is truly mandatory for everyone, regardless of duties. But this one-size-fits-all approach to training can also be the result of simple administrative oversight or even stubbornness. As Training Industry writes, “If everyone does the same generic training it will reduce motivation, and it could even generate resentment among experienced employees.”
For this reason, it’s beneficial to target your training to the recipient, be it an individual, team, entire department. Ensure the material is relevant—include specific examples participants may encounter during their actual day-to-day workflow.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Last but certainly not least: Don’t forget to have some fun. Gamification is a huge development in training because it incentivizes people to set goals by rewarding accomplishments. Trainees should also never feel like they’re isolated, so create outlets for people to communicate, ask questions, share reminders and simply amplify the social angle of learning. Incorporating a mix of formats into training sessions also tends to make it more engaging, from video to small-group discussions and everything in between.
Boosting engagement during training activities is key to making sure participants extract the full value.