How to Train Your New Employees Effectively (And Why It's So Necessary)

Posted by Brian Oderkirk on April 11, 2018

You wouldn’t hand a new high school graduate the keys to a Tesla and let them go, but this is an exaggerated equivalent of some company training programs. Learning how to train new employees effectively is the cornerstone of success for any company.

Why is a new hire training program necessary?

It’s a common mistake that even the most successful businesses make: not formally training new employees.

Some companies believe that new employees will learn as they go, on the job, foregoing a new hire training program. While there is plenty of space for on-the-job training, knowing how to train new employees effectively means happier employees and better retention rates.

Consider that 20% of workers in the U.S leave their job within 45 days of hire (with that number skyrocketing to 50% in the retail sector).

The cost of each turnover is between 16 and 20% of that employee’s salary. Now imagine that 91% of employees stay for at least a year, and 69% are still going strong after three years.

The difference? Managers who know how to train new employees effectively.

How to train new employees effectively

Developing a solid new hire training program is an important management skill. More than just showing new employees where the coffee maker is and how to get their parking permit, training new employees procedures helps employees settle into the rhythm of the company to focus on the most important thing: their job.

How To Train New Employees Effectively

1. Put together new employee procedures

Before you begin developing a new hire training program, you need to know where you are going. If your company has never identified exactly what each new employee should know, now’s the time to do it.

Putting together new employee procedures helps you to articulate the what, why, when, and how to train new employees effectively. There are five easy steps to this process.

  • Identify tasks or procedures employees need to know and break these into steps: Make these tasks and steps as concrete as possible, and have another person who isn’t in the role check for clarity.
  • Identify the best person to complete the training: Not everyone can train every employee for every skill. Choose the best person for the job.
  • Allocate resources: supplies and time: Training new hires is essential. Providing adequate tools and time to learn new procedures and practices (or not!) can make or break your new hire training program. You simply can’t expect existing employees to fit training into an already-packed schedule.
  • Train: This one word encompasses a range of activities, from online training to microlearning to hands-on practice. Identify the best way to deliver the information for the best chance of success.
  • Check for understanding: It’s not enough to just offer the information and hope it sticks. Check employee understanding after training by tailoring employee assignments to the training they received. This helps you to know if employees feel confident in what they have learned or if they need more information.

2. Ensure that all managers use a new hire training checklist

It’s easy to forget where each employee is in the onboarding process. Creating a new employee checklist can help.

This new hire checklist can include:

  • Sending a welcome email with first-day practical things like parking and dress code
  • Making sure office space is cleared, stocked, and ready
  • Pairing the new employee with a mentor
  • Developing an individualized training plan
  • Identifying priority topics employee needs training on
  • Planning check-in meetings to help new employees feel supported

Checklists make life easier to manage, and a new employee training checklist is no different.

3. Include onboarding best practices into your procedures

Successful companies are successful because of their employees. And employees are successful because their smart managers understand and utilize best practices for employee onboarding. Here’s what makes for more effective onboarding.

  • Start training before the first day: A welcome email and a team-wide introduction either via email or video conferencing can go a long way to ease the first-day transition.

  • Develop (and use!) a checklist: As just mentioned, a checklist keeps your onboarding process on track even when the day gets busy.

  • Create a memorable first day that is tailored to what the new employee needs: If your employee is new to the area, make sure they meet the whole team. If they have been in the area for a while but are new to your industry, show them what they are working towards. Taking the time to learn who they are during the interview process can help you to structure a great first day experience.

  • Use varied learning methods suited to the topic at hand: Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to training. If your new employees just need up-to-date information on regulations at a job site, use geofencing instead of a full-day training in a conference room. Working through a project and need to share the procedure for the next step? Microlearning is a good go-to strategy.

  • Allow ample time for questions and dialogue: Allowing space and time for questions and concerns is arguably the most important part of the onboarding process. Employees need to know they can get more information if they need it. Make them feel comfortable asking questions by building time into the process.

4. Train for culture, not just topics

Company culture (think Google’s nap pods and their plethora of freebies from food to massage) can vary wildly. Train for your company’s culture, not just the practical information.

Does your company pride itself on its environmental conservation? Highlight that and show how that works in the workday. Are you known for your ability to work with challenging customers and situations? Demonstrate the problem-solving and customer service skills that are important.

Whatever your company’s culture, sharing it is an important part of any new hire training program.

5. Build in regular reviews and adjustments to your training program

You can spend all the time you want developing a training program, but unless you review your employees and their work you won’t know how effective your program is. Make regular reviews a part of your company’s culture, and adjust your training as needed.

Consider reviewing at the end of the first week and month, then again at three months, six months, and twelve months. This regular check-in should not be punitive. The goal here is a happy, supported, productive employee.

Learning how to train new employees effectively can be a daunting task. EdgePoint Learning can help. Let us work with you to evaluate your existing programs and develop a plan from there.