A culture of learning & empowerment: Our guide to creating an employee training plan
If you’ve recognized a need for broader skill sets and knowledge within your organization, you’re not alone. 46% of learning and development leaders say skill shortages are escalating within their companies, likely due to an increased reliance on automation tools and shifts in the way people work.*
In the face of constant change, businesses need to take a more proactive approach to development by implementing strategically designed training plans. Why? They act as repeatable learning processes that meet long-term business goals and cater to employee needs. As a result, they allow you to deliver on your training initiatives more successfully and efficiently while driving employee engagement and satisfaction.
In this article, we share what makes training plans impactful and walk you through the steps needed to implement one within your own company. We even include a training plan template you can use to create your own.
Why is a proper training plan important?
An employee training plan is a written resource that details how your company will approach a specific training initiative. If, for example, you want to offer leadership training to independent contributors interested in becoming managers, the learning and development (L&D) team could create a plan to ensure that training is results-driven, effective, and aligned with company goals.
Training plans play a central role in moving specific learning initiatives forward, which is why organizations shouldn’t confuse them with employee development plans. In contrast to training plans, which are skill-based course guides for groups of employees or even the whole company, development plans are long-term, high-level guidelines for individual employees that may encompass training plans to build specific skills. As such, training plans are useful tools for taking short-term action on the gaps managers and their reports identified when putting together a personal development plan.
Some key benefits of training plans include:
- Increased retention rates — 76% of respondents to SHRM’s 2022 Learning and Development Executive Summary said they were more likely to stay with a company that offered continuous training. Training plans are ideal methods to provide those opportunities as they streamline the employee development process and enable L&D teams to deliver more frequent, higher-quality training opportunities.
- Enhanced productivity and growth — Upskilling staff means they can achieve important goals and deliver the results required to keep the company operating at a high level. That’s one reason why research shows that organizations that take training seriously are 59% more likely to grow.
- Better adaptability — As companies seek to meet the challenges of remote and hybrid work, training plans can empower employees with the skills they need to adapt to the ongoing advancements in technology and changes in the world of work. We’re not the only ones who share that sentiment: 72% of employers think training helps their organization stay dynamic and flexible.
- More empowered employees — Investing in learning and development should be a priority for any organization that cares about people enablement. Why? It pays off. According to our 2023 report, 89% of employees agree that people enablement has benefitted their workplace.
“In the past, we had a laissez-faire approach to training, allowing employees to select any kind they wanted. This sometimes resulted in misalignment between the training content and our company culture or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). To remedy this, we’ve since adopted a more structured approach, designing our training programs to align with our company’s culture and objectives. This has ensured that every piece of training employees receive is relevant and applicable to their role within our organization.”
— Jennifer Morehead, CEO of Flex HR, on the value a training plan has brought to their business
6 steps to outlining your employee training plan
Your company needs a step-by-step strategy to develop a training plan that can empower team members with the right learning resources and meet long-term organizational needs at the same time.
1. Identify knowledge & skills gaps
Skills gaps within your organization likely have more to do with technological advancements and market fluctuations than with employee competence. Bearing that in mind, it’s essential to consider short and long-term business goals when assessing skills gaps. Let’s say one of your objectives is to make artificial intelligence (AI) more central to the way you run your organization. You may identify that team members are still unsure how to apply these new tools to increase the business’s operational efficiency.
To discover where your current upskilling and learning opportunities are:
- Survey employees — Even a short, two-question pulse survey asking staff what skills they need to better execute their roles can provide useful insights.
- Re-examine your career progression framework — If you’ve made updates to your company structure, there may be new skills or competencies that employees need to flourish in their current roles.
- Study your industry and competitors — Leverage your network or reach out to peers to learn what skills and knowledge gaps they’re currently facing and prioritizing.
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Leapsome’s Impact Drivers help you quickly identify what motivates employee survey responses.
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2. Determine training objectives
Now that you have a better grasp of the skills employees are missing or need to expand on, you can begin to outline a set of objectives that’ll guide each plan. While your training plan objectives should align with your company vision, it’s best to keep them more attainable and specific than any high-level, long-term business goals.
Let’s look at some common training objectives:
- Enhancing a technical skill or competency with software
- Developing intercultural competencies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Expanding industry and regulatory knowledge
- Improving customer service skills
- Sharpening decision-making skills
- Becoming more confident with conflict resolution techniques
- Managing time more effectively
🔎 When considering a set of training objectives, stakeholders should ask themselves these questions:
What’s the desired outcome of this training?
How will the new skills or knowledge contribute to our business goals?
How will trainees benefit from the new skills or knowledge?
What do employees need to do to succeed with this training plan?
How will trainers or leaders know when employees have successfully completed the training?
How will trainers overcome challenges to the training, if any?
3. Choose the type of training
Each training plan should invite you to consider what methods and resources are most appropriate to meet skills gaps, stay within budget, and accommodate team members’ needs. Consider, for instance, that DEI skills training for managers may require sensitivity and involvement from expert speakers, as well as focus on topics like intersectionality, unconscious bias, microaggressions, and power dynamics. This is markedly different from, for example, a simple training session on how to use a new type of software. Similarly, think about how distinct training remote employees can be from training an in-office team. The various needs and requirements relating to different skill sets should be taken into consideration when planning this out.
Let’s explore a few different training plans and discuss the specific competencies each one might address.
New hire training plans
Typically part of the orientation and onboarding process, new hire training plans focus on familiarizing new employees with job expectations, policies, and procedures. The objective is to integrate recent joiners into their new team so they can become comfortable and reach their full potential quickly and sustainably.
Customer service training plans
Sales and customer relationship management are challenging skills to build, so this type of training should provide resources and techniques that employees can review to retain customers and bring in more revenue, such as client relationship building and consultative selling.
Technical training plans
This type of training isn’t only for companies that specialize in IT and software. Organizations that rely on powerful tools to operate their businesses need to provide specialized resources — and ample time for employees to learn about and practice with them — so they can get the most out of their investment.
4. Establish how to measure effectiveness
Evaluating the success of your training plan is vital as it highlights possible refinements and improvements which ultimately will increase the return on investment of training for the business. Doing so also helps gauge whether the training is meeting your established objectives and helping you make progress on broader company goals.
Great training should positively impact different areas, like performance, productivity, engagement, and retention. That’s why you should utilize multiple approaches to measure effectiveness, such as:
- Completion rates — Quickly determine whether training is too difficult or too long and investigate what might be hindering people’s progress.
- Survey scores — Gather post-training employee feedback via anonymous surveys to determine whether the plan succeeds in enhancing skill sets, allowing team members to perform their current roles more effectively, or helping them move to a higher position.
- Percentage of goals reached — Observing how many team members are reaching their individual training goals means you can understand how quickly people are progressing through the program. Leapsome’s flexible Goals module allows you to set both OKRs and SMART goals and track results in real time.
- Qualitative feedback — Leaders can set up 1:1 meetings with training participants to discuss how everything’s going and explore what could be improved.
5. Set your timeline
Depending on what you need your training plan to achieve, you may choose to establish a stricter or more flexible and self-paced timeline. For instance, mandatory short-term technical training might require a hard deadline, while employees should be enabled to complete voluntary time management training at their leisure.
The key is giving team members a visual tool to track their progress throughout the course, which is why you should break your timeline down with the following:
- A training schedule — For courses happening in multiple sessions over several months, provide employees with a weekly or monthly schedule so they can plan their time accordingly.
- Checklists — For self-paced courses, allow staff to mark tasks off a list of projects and activities.
- Milestones — Managers can let participants know when they’ve reached specific achievements or met certain targets.
6. Create & choose training materials
Creating materials internally helps make training more relevant and specific to your business goals. It also allows you to keep your messaging more consistent with your company values and tailor teaching materials as you go. However, there are a few benefits to sourcing training externally, which can do the following:
- Provides external perspectives to diversify your insights, broaden your thinking, and introduce new approaches to problem-solving.
- Allows access to professionals with specific expertise or specialized certifications.
- Supports employees in connecting with industry experts and helps them build their professional networks.
- Is less time intensive than creating plans internally, as resources and materials are created separately.
While they require an initial time investment, in-house materials can be just as effective and may include:
- Webinars or online presentations
- Training videos
- Games and bite-sized courses
- Online forums or internal communities
- Interactive elearning modules
🕴️ Tailor-made learning that engages your people
Leapsome’s Learning module lets you incorporate external resources and customize training so it’s always relevant to employee needs.
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Employee training plan template
Employee training plans should be easy for leaders, managers, and team members to understand, follow, and implement. Here’s a sample template you can fill in — simply tweak the details and structure based on your branding, messaging, and needs.
This is where you’ll write the following:
- The name of your organization
- The course name
- The department, team, position, or specific employee the course is for
- How long it will last, especially if the course isn’t self-paced
- When the course was last updated
Clearly state your learning goals for the course. What short- or long-term objectives do you want the training to achieve? For example, if you’re building a management training plan, your goals may include:
- Helping managers develop their confidence as coaches and mentors
- Sharpening decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Better identifying strengths and areas for improvement in direct reports
- Enhancing team collaboration and effectiveness
Explain whether the training will take place in-person or online and give a brief overview of its structure. For example, for new hire training, the learning process may be completely asynchronous, and trainees might be expected to spend two hours a day working through tasks, activities, and quizzes over the course of a week.
Training content, schedule, or modules
Here, you’ll break the training down into smaller components to help employees digest the information and stay organized and on task. If, for example, team members need to complete a set of learning modules and activities to finish their training, you can provide a checklist here.
Monitoring & follow-up
Explain what metrics and tools participants and organizers will use to measure their progress and success throughout the training.
For example, L&D teams may ask trainees to track progress throughout the course by monitoring their module completion rates, reviewing scores on quizzes and tests, and updating their individual training goals. Then, after the training is completed, leaders will follow up in regularly scheduled 1:1s and discuss how the employee is implementing the training in their day-to-day role.
What to avoid when planning employee training
Implementing a new training plan takes trial and error and may not always produce the results you hope to see right away. However, taking note of common training plan pitfalls ahead of time can help eliminate the need for extensive refinement down the road. Some possible issues include:
- Setting unrealistic expectations — Making your plan too ambitious could result in discouraged employees who feel it’s out of touch and impossible to complete. When in doubt, keep timelines relatively short and make objectives as specific and achievable as possible.
- Providing employees with insufficient time — Even if training isn’t mandatory, not giving people enough free time to take advantage of learning opportunities might send the message that their success isn’t your priority. Allow employees to carve out time away from tasks to complete training, and encourage them to create recurring calendar blockers to focus on their personal development.
- Not explaining ‘the why’ — If you’ve created training plans in response to specific organizational challenges or skills gaps, let team members know. Otherwise, failing to be transparent about your reason for implementing training might lead people to draw unfavorable conclusions or lead to a lack of motivation.
- Not asking for feedback — Employee input is a powerful way to evaluate the effectiveness of your training plans. Without those insights, you risk investing in training that doesn‘t align with your team’s needs or preferred ways of learning.
- Implementing a plan that doesn’t align with individual goals — Not taking their personal development goals into account might prevent trainees from feeling a sense of empowerment and ownership over their new skills, which can harm motivation and engagement — not only during the training phase.
Train & develop your people with Leapsome
By providing a structured, strategic approach to learning, a well-crafted training plan can help upskill staff members more efficiently while addressing the knowledge gaps that might be holding your company back.
Still, it takes time and collaboration to gather the data, resources, and materials you need to develop and implement a successful training plan. What’s more, you may find that your current people enablement tech stack overcomplicates the process.
Leapsome is the perfect platform for organizations that want to simplify planning and offer training at scale. Users can take advantage of our Surveys and Meetings modules to collect employee feedback, our Goals module to track learning objectives against company targets, and our Learning module to deliver interactive courses. Plus, configurable analytics dashboards allow you to monitor completion and success in real time so you can tweak your training plans on the fly.
👊 A platform that helps you roll with the punches
Leapsome’s Learning module integrates with surveys, goal-tracking, and powerful analytics so you can roll out training efficiently and adapt it as you go.
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FAQs about employee training plans
1. What is an employee training plan?
An employee training plan is a centralized resource — typically a document — that a company creates to systematize a specific training initiative. It’s essential for organizations that want to:
- Take a more structured approach to learning and development
- Facilitate autonomy around training
- Create more consistency across all training materials and courses
- Roll out future training initiatives efficiently
2. What should be included in a training plan?
Employee training plans should include these four elements:
- Objectives — Explain why you’re implementing the training and the skills and competencies employees need to build. Perhaps your company is transitioning to a more digitalized business environment due to the ongoing advancement in technology and wants to train the team in digital literacy and cybersecurity awareness.
- Key metrics — The short and long-term skills team members want to develop will also help you decide what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to track the training’s progress and success.
- Delivery methods — Determine what setting, timeline, and curriculum would work best to facilitate and meet your objectives.
- Action plan — Specify how training will happen step-by-step. How many learning sessions will there be? What tasks or homework will trainees need to complete? How will they be monitored?
3. How do you write an employee training plan?
When designing and writing an employee training plan, people and learning and development (L&D) teams should:
- Perform a needs analysis to determine what performance issues or skills gaps are currently holding the team or organization back.
- Develop a set of measurable goals you want your training plan to meet in alignment with those gaps and business objectives.
- Collaborate with stakeholders to decide on content and training methods. We’d recommend consulting a well-rounded team to ensure the training is relevant to the business and the employees who will participate.
- Assign ownership. Decide who’s responsible for each aspect of training, including sourcing materials, tracking success, and checking in with team members about their progress.
- Write your plan and share it with stakeholders and trainees.
4. Is there a difference between employee training programs & plans?
A training program involves a series of long-term, strategic employee development initiatives, as a training plan is a single document that outlines how to approach a specific training initiative. A training program is more comprehensive and considers all of your company’s training needs and objectives, while training plans are the focused, written resources within a training program that deliver on those objectives in detail.