Picture this: it’s your new hire’s first day on the job. They’re eager to get started and contribute to the team. And after a few rounds of interviews and some pre-onboarding paperwork, you’re just about ready to start them off.
But there’s one more thing they have to do first: mandatory training.
This may not be the most glamorous part of the onboarding process, but it’s important nonetheless. After all, you want to ensure your new hire is up to speed on company policies and procedures before they start working.
Plus, depending on their role, they may need to complete some mandatory training modules before they can begin working with customers or handling sensitive information.
So what goes into this new hire training? And how can you make sure your new hire completes it all without skipping a beat?
Here’s everything you need to know about mandatory employee training.
What Is Mandatory Training for Employees?
When it comes to employee training, there are two types: mandatory and voluntary.
Mandatory training is, well, mandatory. All employees must complete it before they can start working.
It includes topics like sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, and safety procedures. And depending on the company’s industry, there may be other mandatory modules that employees must complete, such as:
- Food safety training
- HIPAA training
- OSHA training
- Compliance training
- Company best practices
Voluntary training, on the other hand, is not required–employees can choose whether to participate.
It might include topics like leadership development or professional development. And while voluntary training isn’t required, it’s often encouraged by employers as a way for employees to further their skills and development.
Why Is Mandatory Training Important?
There are a few key reasons why mandatory training is important for employers:
It sets the tone for the company culture
By requiring employees to complete certain training modules, you’re sending a message about what’s important to the company. For example, if you require all employees to complete sexual harassment training, you’re sending the message that your company does not tolerate harassment of any kind.
Mandatory training also shows new hires what it’s like to work at the company. They get a taste of the company’s culture and values, as well as an understanding of what’s expected of them and those around them.
It protects the company from liability
If an employee violates a company policy or procedure, mandatory training can help protect the company from liability. If an employee is accused of sexual harassment but they’ve completed sexual harassment training, the company can use that as a defense.
It helps employees do their job better
By ensuring employees are up to speed on company policies and procedures, you’re helping them do their job better. They’ll know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be less likely to make mistakes.
Types of Training Programs for New Employees
Before you begin to build your new hire training program, you need to decide what type of program you want to create. There are a few different options you’ll have when creating a training program for your organization.
In-House vs. Outsourced Programs
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to create an in-house training program or outsource the training to an external provider.
If you decide to bring it in-house, the main benefit is that you’ll be able to be hands-on with your employees. You’ll also be in control of everything that’s being taught.
However, you’ll need to have the staff and resources in place to create an effective training program. Branding, building training modules, and hiring HR staff whose main role is to onboard new hires can be costly.
You’ll also need to consider the time it will take to develop the program and get it off the ground. If you’re looking for a quick solution for one or two employees, an in-house program might not be the best option.
Outsourcing your employee training is usually straightforward. You can choose from a variety of providers, and you can find one that specializes in the type of training you’re looking for.
Plenty of companies offer specialized training in things like food safety, sexual harassment, and industry compliance. And because they’re experts in their field, their training programs are usually top-notch.
But an outsourced training program can feel disingenuous—like you’re just sending your employees off to be trained by someone else. Your employees might interpret the message as, “This isn’t important enough for us to train you ourselves.”
And since you won’t be working as closely with your new hires, there will be some lead time between when they’re hired and when they’re fully trained.
eLearning vs. Instructor-Led Training
Another decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to create an eLearning program or an instructor-led training program.
eLearning is a type of self-paced learning that’s delivered online. It’s usually in the form of a video or an interactive course.
One of the benefits of eLearning is that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. So if you have employees who are working remotely or in different time zones, they can still participate in the training.
It’s also a good option if your employees have different learning styles. Some people learn better when they’re able to see and hear the material, while others prefer to read or interact with it.
Instructor-led training is when a trainer leads a group of employees through the material. This can be done in person or virtually.
One of the benefits of instructor-led training is that it allows for immediate feedback. Employees who don’t understand something can ask the trainer for clarification.
It’s also a good option if you want to build team unity or create a more personal connection between the trainer and the trainees.
Classroom-Style vs. Workshop-Style Training
Classroom-style training works best for things that require storytelling or lectures, like sales training or company presentations.
This type of training is usually led by an instructor in a traditional classroom setting. The benefit of this type of training is that it allows the trainer to control the pace and keep everyone on track.
But it can be easy for employees to tune out or get distracted during a lecture. And if you have employees who are working remotely, they might not be able to participate.
Workshop-style training works well when a hands-on approach is needed. Sales role-play, for example, is best learned in a workshop setting. This type of training is usually more informal than classroom-style training and relies heavily on group activities and discussions.
Workshops can be great icebreakers for new employees as well. Forcing them to interact with each other in a collaborative setting will help them get to know each other better and feel more comfortable working together.
Individual vs. Group Training
Individual training is a necessary part of onboarding, such as when you’re teaching a new hire how to use your company’s software, policies, and individual job roles.
But individual training is limiting in that it doesn’t allow for interaction or collaboration.
Group training, on the other hand, is more flexible and can be adapted to different learning styles. It also allows for more natural conversation and brainstorming.
If you have multiple new hires at once (e.g., you’re onboarding a group of interns), group training can be a more efficient use of time and resources for many of their duties.
Where to Start With Employee Training Programs
Now that you know some of the different employee training programs, you might wonder where to start. Let’s take a look at where to begin.
1. Conduct a skills-gap analysis
There are a few types of skills you want to target with your training program:
- Skills that improve your employees’ job performance (e.g., an HR manager who needs to learn how to use a new HRIS system)
- Skills that are required for the job but haven’t been formally taught (e.g., customer service representatives who need to learn how to handle angry customers)
- Skills that are needed for future roles your employees might take on (e.g., a marketer who needs to learn how to use Google Analytics to manage a campaign)
These are the types of skills that will boost your employees’ confidence, help them do their jobs better, and set them up for future success.
2. Identify the training methods that will work best for your company
Not all companies are the same, so it’s important to tailor your employee training programs to fit your specific needs.
In most cases, this will be a combination of different methods, such as classroom-style training, eLearning courses, and on-the-job training. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself so that you aren’t running a training program just for the sake of it.
What will employees learn about our company from this program?
- For example, “our new employees will learn about our company’s history, culture, and values.”
What skills or knowledge do our employees need to be successful in their roles?
- For example, “our customer service representatives will learn how to handle angry customers.”
What types of training methods will work best for our company?
- For example, “we will use classroom-style training to inform our new hires of our company’s sexual assault and misconduct policies.”
How will this training session improve employee performance?
- For example, “after completing this eLearning course on product knowledge, our sales representatives will be able to sell our products more confidently.”
3. Set measurable goals for your employee training programs
If you want your employee training programs to be successful, you need to set clear, specific, and measurable KPIs.
A few important ones to measure include:
- Employee Satisfaction: Use surveys to gauge how employees feel about the training program. Are they finding it helpful? Is it relevant to their job?
- Employee Engagement: Measure employee engagement before and after the training program to see if there’s been an increase.
- Productivity: Track employees’ productivity before and after the training program. Are they able to work more efficiently?
- Retention: Use data from your HRIS system to see if there’s been a decrease in employee turnover based on whether or not they have been given adequate training for their roles.
When you set measurable goals, you’ll be able to track the success of your employee training programs and make necessary changes along the way.
4. Develop a plan for delivering the training
When you deliver the training, you want to make sure it’s engaging and interactive. Especially if you’re working with a remote-first team, you need to be able to keep everyone’s attention.
Here are a few tips for delivering an engaging employee training program:
- Start with the “Why.” Employees need to understand the purpose of the training and how it will benefit them in their roles.
- Make it concise and relevant. The training should be relevant to their job and address the specific skills or knowledge they need to be successful.
- Use different formats. A mix of online modules, in-person sessions, and on-the-job training will keep employees engaged.
- Make it interactive. Use activities, games, and real-life examples to bring the material to life.
- Get feedback. Encourage employees to give feedback so that you can improve the training program for future iterations.
Be sure to highlight why each component of the training is mandatory and help them understand how it fits into their role at the company.
5. Evaluate the results of your employee training programs
After you’ve implemented your employee training programs for about six months, it’s essential to take a step back and see what’s working and what isn’t.
The best way to do this is to compare the results of your KPIs before and after the training program. This will help you see if there’s been an improvement in employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, or retention.
If you’re not seeing the results you want, it is definitely worth asking for feedback from employees to see where the training program can be improved.
Remember that metrics like employee satisfaction and retention aren’t always a result of a training program—other factors like company culture and job satisfaction play a role as well.
But if you’re seeing a decrease in employee satisfaction or an increase in turnover, it’s worth taking a look at your training program to see if your employees are getting the right resources or if a lack of resources might be causing problems for them.
6. Make changes to your employee training programs based on feedback
Once you’ve evaluated the results of your employee training programs, it’s time to make some changes based on what you’ve learned.
If you do not see the results you want, don’t be afraid to make changes to your program. This might mean changing the format, the content, the delivery method, or anything else that you think could be improved.
A few questions you could survey your employees on include:
- What formats do you learn best in?
- What would make you feel more confident at work?
- What topics would you like to see covered in training?
- Do you feel like you have enough time to complete the training?
- What policies or procedures do you not understand?
Final Thoughts About Mandatory Employee Training Programs
Employee onboarding is a critical part of any company’s success. And some training programs are a mandatory part of onboarding.
It’s important to consider the goals of your company and the needs of your employees when deciding which training programs are mandatory and which ones are not.
If you’re not sure where to start, our checklist can help you create a mandatory employee training program that covers all the bases.