“Employee training” has too long been synonymous with “open the company handbook” or “attend an eight-hour training session”. These traditional methods will only get you so far. If you want to benefit from incredible efficiencies, such as a 60% reduction in instructor time1 or a 79% increase in productivity and motivation2 (compared to traditional instructor-based training), studies show that employee training needs to go way beyond a simple manual or the traditional teacher-student training model.
It’s time to think big and build an Employee Education Portal to house a robust curriculum that your employees actually enjoy using.
There’s a lot that goes into designing a coherent and comprehensive curriculum that will set the tone for engagement and adoption with the system at your organization.
Designing an Employee Training Curriculum? Cover These 9 Basic Components
First, there are the macro components that structure an entire Employee Education Portal and its curriculum. These include:
- Who needs training?
- What do they need to learn? What do they already know?
- What are the highest priority topics to be taught?
- What learning will best support and create your desired learning outcomes?
Always start with why. Why do you need better employee training in the first place? Are you looking to deliver better customer service? Decrease turnover? Improve quality? Take it one step further and paint the picture of your “fully trained” staff. What are they doing, saying, and thinking? How does it feel to be on the floor or on the phones with them? Setting out with a clear picture of the outcomes you’re looking to gain is the best way to ensure you’re designing and creating effective training curriculum.
An employee training system isn’t an island. It has to be connected to the larger management system. What aspects of training will be managed on the system, and what aspects will be managed offline? How will the two intersect and support one another? How can your existing processes be leveraged to their fullest abilities with an online outpost? Who will be responsible for maintaining the system, verifying the content, and monitoring its use and effectiveness? It’s important to determine early on the scope, expectations, interactions, and limitations of your online and offline systems in order to create a curriculum that works within this framework.
Based on a strong understanding of your internal stakeholders and the unique conditions they live and work in, how and when is your audience likely to engage with the system? The look and feel of the interface, its capabilities and features, the material itself and the way it’s presented should all be thoughtfully tailored to the end user’s needs.
For instance, there’s quite a difference between a millennial audience who will be accessing the system in on-the-fly five-minute bursts on their smartphones, versus a Baby Boomer audience who will be using the system in scheduled hour-long sessions using desktop computers.
With that understanding, the next step is to begin identifying the outline of the overarching curriculum. To plan the materials, you must determine:
In this step you’re both prioritizing the big picture modules or courses for your system, and also the individual lesson topics and themes included therein.
5. Type of Knowledge and Desired Application of Learning3
Not all knowledge is created equal.
Next, looking at your prioritized knowledge you need to ask, “What types of information will this curriculum convey?” Are you looking to teach facts, procedures, concepts, principles, interpersonal skills, and attitudes?4 Or likely a combination of the above.
Then, “What do you want your employees to be able to do with this knowledge?” Will you be requiring them to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, or create with this newly acquired information?5
With these elements understood, then – and only then – does it make sense to begin to plan and develop content pieces as part of your curriculum.
6. Learning Objectives
In order to effectively decide the scope of each content lesson and collect the required thought leadership, you should determine the learning objective.
The learning objective is simply a statement that describes what capabilities or knowledge the user should acquire from absorbing each piece of content. It sets a standard – and a limit – as to what you expect each piece will teach your employees.
Not all knowledge should be presented equally, either. How can the content best teach this information? Should it be presented in a recording, an image, or an article? Every day, the world of online content grows to include different types of media, from videos to webinars, blog articles to infographics, slide shows to podcasts. Which type of media is best for the particular lesson you’re creating?
For content lessons to have maximum resonance and retention with your employees, you’ll also need to determine the most appropriate level of detail to include. What approaches (e.g. anecdotes, examples, lists, tools) will improve comprehension? Which terms can you gloss over (e.g. materials with which your employees are already familiar) and which require a more detailed explanation?
9. Learning Reinforcement
There’s no sense creating a curriculum – nor any individual piece of content for that matter – if you don’t plan to reinforce and test your employees’ comprehension. What is the optimal method to confirm comprehension of this particular subject (e.g. short quiz or assigned task) – and what will be the method for testing and reinforcing the entire curriculum (e.g. course exam)?
Employee training in 2016 and beyond has to go further than just pushing out the next version of your company handbook or running another “Manager-at-the-front-of-the-room” style training session. Gamified online learning has the power to increase retention, boost engagement, and decrease turnover. But designing the kind of employee training curriculum that accomplishes all that is no small feat. Incorporate these nine components and you’ll be on your way to a robust curriculum that helps develop your staff into a dream team.