Learning & Development

When Training Employees, Look Beyond the Traditional Classroom

Who doesn’t remember the drudgery of going to class every day? The morning routine, the unending days—so why would the classroom be any better for workplace training?


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Research shows that employees only retain 26% of what they hear and 10% of what they read in this type of setting, making classroom training programs highly ineffective. Traditional classroom training can also lead to a lack of engagement due to inflexibility and a failure to resonate with employees. Why does classroom training fall short, and how can it be fixed? Let’s take a look.

Collaboration Is Key to Success

Recent studies show that employees who were encouraged to work collaboratively stuck with their task 64% longer than their peers while also reporting higher engagement and lower fatigue. Despite this proven rate of success, many executives still utilize a traditional classroom program, which often leads to fewer opportunities for students to voice their ideas out loud.

However, there are five main reasons why collaboration can lead to business success: self-awareness, more effective problem solving, ability to leverage disagreements, ability to handle failure, and consistent learning, which are all positive outcomes from a collaborative training program. Characteristics like these not only create a well-rounded program for employees but also increase productivity and business success overall.

Interactive Training Creates Better Employees

Sixty-five percent of the population consists of visual or hands-on learners, an area where traditional classroom training often falls short. Implementing interactive training techniques into your program can make the experience more realistic and enjoyable for employees.

This type of training is hands-on and consists of role-playing, group brainstorms, and interactive discussions, leading to a more realistic experience for employees while also fostering an environment centered on teamwork and creativity. When training is more realistic, employees are better prepared to enter the workforce and make positive contributions from day 1.

Employees Desire Flexible Options

While many businesses have implemented flexible schedules as part of their internal culture, training programs continually fall short in this offering. Traditional classroom programs often have specific times for training sessions, with little room for negotiation.

This type of situation can quickly become an issue for employees, as many are already juggling their personal and professional lives. With so much time and energy invested in designing a training program, it’s important for management to consider what employees want and need.

With this in mind, executives should recognize that 85% of employees want to pick training times that fit their schedules. If employees are given the opportunity to find what works best for them, they’ll be more likely to have an engaging experience with their training program.

Create an Individualized Approach

What’s the best way to help employees learn? Design a program specified to their needs. While it’s necessary to foster teamwork, it’s also important to know what makes each individual work best. Ninety-one percent of employees feel they would learn better from a more personalized training program.

While designing a program for each individual may seem like a difficult process, it’s actually fairly simple. Performing skills tests followed by course mapping allows for employees to learn at their optimum level by molding the program around their specific educational needs and learning style.

Building a productive workforce starts with building an effective training program. Training programs should no longer encompass the “lecture and listen” style of learning but instead incorporate flexibility, personalization, and hands-on experience. If all of these criteria are met, productivity and employee engagement are sure to increase.

Jason CarneyJason Carney, HR Director of WorkSmart Systems, joined in 2007. He has extensive knowledge in all aspects of HR, through his nearly 20 years of experience in industries such as finance, staffing, and technology. Carney holds a B.S. in Business Management/Human Resource Management from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

Carney has often been described as a “business-friendly HR person” who understands how employment decisions affect the bottom line. In his free time, Carney enjoys golf, coaching baseball, softball, football, and basketball, and spending time with his family.