In the eyes of some employees, training is considered to be a necessary evil – even if they know employee development is critical in order to keep up on trends, innovations and advancement in their field of expertise. And it doesn’t help that many companies institute a training program with little to no changes year after year due to the cost and time to revamp a program and incorporate new content.

Training and employee development are two areas that can increase employee retention and loyalty, and also make a company more attractive to potential employees. With the demand for qualified talent higher than ever, it is more important than ever to have a relevant, interesting, training and development program that is tailored to the employees participating in the program. So how can a training program remain relevant and interesting to employees and not be cost prohibitive to the businesses that use the program?

Don't let employee training become dull and irrelevant.

Don’t let employee training become dull and irrelevant.

Having worked with several businesses in developing programs as well as creating and implementing programs in my own two businesses, here are six ways to jumpstart your training and development program.

Invest in Leadership Development – In today’s workforce, conscious leadership by persons with both business and relationship skills are needed more than ever. With so many baby boomers preparing to retire from the workforce over the next decade, there will be a void in experienced leaders. This exit combined with the increase of millennials in the workforce can make some current programs obsolete. By investing to retune a current leadership development program or developing a new one, a business can get ahead of this pending gap in leadership and become poised to have strong, well-developed leaders for today and tomorrow.

Keep Training Relevant – Employees dread trainings which have no relevance to their daily work.   As a result, many are not engaged and refuse to participate.  Pick your course offerings and participants carefully.  Make certain that the course material is relevant and will help the participants now and in their immediate future.

Bring in a New Trainer – In many organizations, the same individuals conduct training year after year. A different trainer can bring in new content and new perspective to a topic that can engage students by expanding their knowledge. This new trainer doesn’t have to be expensive either. Poll the workforce. There could be knowledgeable experts within the four walls of your business. Reach out to mentors and business peers for expertise as well.

Create Options – Make the training programs easily accessible to all attendees. Create real time offerings, recorded offerings and online offerings. Allow attendees to attend remotely or in person. Don’t forget to include any remote employees and employees that work non-traditional schedules or shifts. Technology has made it easier and less expensive to create online training courses. This capability allows for greater flexibility for the employee to participate in the course thus increasing attendance and in turn the likelihood that the subject matter will be retained.

Change the Scenery – If training currently occurs in an onsite training center or in corporate conference rooms, consider moving to a new location. This doesn’t have to be an exotic remote location, but can be in another corporate location, a local offsite training center, or even outdoors, if possible. By getting the employees out of the office and into a neutral atmosphere, they will be less likely to be distracted by any issues that may arise in the office and be more willing to learn and participate in the program.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback – Before, during and after the class, make sure to ask for feedback. Once the feedback has been received, make sure and review it and act on any issues that can be addressed. By visibly acting on the feedback provided, employees will be more likely to provide open, honest feedback moving forward. It is also important to ask for feedback from employees who did not attend non-mandatory sessions. By knowing why employees did not attend, changes can be made to reduce the number of non-attendees in the future.

By keeping training programs relevant and up to date, the utilization of the programs will increase. Now instead of employees dreading a training course, they will look forward to gaining new knowledge and insights that can help them to thrive and grow their career. An additional benefit of a robust training and development program is an increase in employee loyalty and a reduction in employee turnover. By investing in corporate training and development programs today, businesses can ensure that their workforce will serve them well into the future.