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Top 10 Types of Employee Training

Nikki VanRy
5 min read

To create a happy, productive workforce, training managers must provide opportunities for further training and growth. Unfortunately, too many employees or management dismiss training as boring or unnecessary. And, let’s face it, employee training can be boring, but only when the wrong type of training is matched up with the topic or issue you’re tackling. Matching the types of employee training to your employee needs can ensure they receive the information they need, in the format best suited for it.

The types of employee training you can consider include:

  1. Instructor-led training
  2. eLearning
  3. Simulation employee training
  4. Hands-on training
  5. Coaching or mentoring
  6. Lectures
  7. Group discussion and activities
  8. Role-playing
  9. Management-specific activities
  10. Case studies or other required reading

We discuss the ideal situations for each type of training, along with their respective challenges below.

Instructor-led training

Instructor-led training is the traditional type of employee training that occurs in a classroom, with a teacher presenting the material. This can be a highly effective method of employee training, especially for complex topics. Instructors can answer specific employee questions or direct them to further resources. They also allow for highly-skilled instructors to match the training level and style to the employees in the room. However, instructor-led training does have some drawbacks, including cost and time to implement. It can also be unnecessary for concise topics. We discuss more about this in our post, “Instructor-Led Training Vs. eLearning.


eLearning, on the other hand, relies on online videos, tests, and courses to deliver employee training. Employees can do their training at their desk or on company-provided computers. It’s one of the easiest types of employee training to roll out to larger populations, especially for employees who are remote or have high-turnover rates. With interactive games, tests, videos, activities, or even gamified components, it can also go a long way towards keeping your employees engaged with the training.

Of course, eLearning also has its own challenges. Without a solid instructional design strategy behind it, the graphics and visuals that make eLearning fun can also make it gimmicky or quickly outdated. Keeping it up-to-date is also a necessary best practice.

Simulation employee training

Simulation training is most often provided through a computer or virtual reality device. Despite the initial costs for producing that software or technology, however, simulation training can be a necessary option for employees in riskier or high-stakes fields. You’ll often see simulation training for pilots or doctors, but it can be useful for other employees too.

This type of employee training is also highly-effective and reliable, allowing employees to progress consistently and at their own pace.

Hands-on training

Hands-on training includes any experiential training that’s focused on the individual needs of the employee. It’s conducted directly on the job. Hands-on training can help employees fit perfectly into their upcoming or current role, while enhancing their current skills.

A LinkedIn post notes:

“One advantage of hands-on training is that they are applicable immediately to the employees’ jobs. They are also effective for training when it comes to new business equipment and procedures.”

This is a time-intensive method of employee training, however, that’s best used when there are enough resources available to support employees during the program.

Coaching or mentoring

Coaching or mentoring can share similar qualities to hands-on training, but in this type of employee training, the focus is on the relationship between an employee and a more experienced professional, such as their supervisor, a coach, or a veteran employee.

The one-on-one mentoring style creates a relationship between employees that carries far beyond training. It also allows the employee to ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a classroom, instructor-led training.

For all its benefits, mentoring is costly in terms of employee hours and should be used appropriately to reduce those associated costs. Coaching—bringing in a trained professional—can sometimes provide a more time-efficient alternative, but without the relationship building that’s so valuable in mentoring.

Lecture-style training

Important for getting big chunks of information to a large employee population, lecture-style training can be an invaluable resource for communicating required information quickly.

However, use this type of employee training sparingly. HR.com writes:

“It has been said to be the least effective of all training methods. In many cases, lectures contain no form of interaction from the trainer to the trainee and can be quite boring. Studies show that people only retain 20 percent of what they are taught in a lecture.”

Group discussions and activities

For the right group of employees, group discussions and activities can provide the perfect training option. It allows multiple employees to train at once, in an environment that better fits their current departments or groups. These discussions and activities can be instructor-led or facilitated by online prompts that are later reviewed by a supervisor.

This type of employee training is best used for challenges that require a collaborative approach to complex issues.


Similar to group discussions, role-playing specifically asks employees to work through one aspect of their jobs in a controlled scenario. They’ll be asked to consider different points-of-view and think on their feet as they work through the role-playing activity.

Like other group activities, role-playing is highly effective but may be unnecessary for simple, straightforward topics. It also requires more employee time, potentially taking time away from an entire department while they’re going through the training.

Management-specific activities

Management-specific activities are just that—employee training that’s focused on the needs of managers. They may include simulations, brainstorming activities, team-building exercises, role-playing, or focused eLearning on management best practices.

While management training can include many different types of employee training, it’s important to consider the additional needs of your managers separately from the rest of your employee population. This ensures they have the foundation they need to support the rest of their staff.

Case studies or other required reading

Finally, some topics are readily accessible through required readings. Case studies, in particular, can provide a quick way for employees to learn about real workplace issues. Employees can read through these at their own pace, or while working in a team-building session with other employees.

Case studies are a great option for focused topics, but more complex topics will likely require more advanced types of employee training.

Types of Employee Training

If you match the type of training to the topic, you can create rich learning experiences for your employees. Click on the button below to learn more about the types of employee training EdgePoint can help create:

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