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Five Ways to Spice Up Employee Training Programs

— by Jay Forte

Corporate trainingEmployee trainingLearning and developmentLearning development

Most employee training and education programs focus on just a few required, core topics: basic skills, computer systems, and keeping current on industry regulations or changes. That’s fine. Fundamentals are important.

But that’s such a small part of what a great training program can be. Learning doesn’t only have to happen in a classroom or at a computer screen — every day employees are in a position to grow. Organizations should take advantage of that. Here are a few ideas:

Partner with a meaningful local charity

Build a community service event into your education program. It teaches the lessons of support, awareness and personal sacrifice — all important lessons in the workplace.

Partner with another company

Use the time to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and responses your employees share. Learning from someone else is critical to expanding a company’s mindset. Or, create a committee within the company that meets regularly with other businesses to learn, share ideas, and deal with a changing economy.

Hold an annual employee retreat

Host a powerful and meaningful speaker, then follow up after the speaker with very specific activities designed to bring the message home. Example: bring in a speaker that focuses on extraordinary service, then follow up with specific activities around the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, resulting in the creation of a company service commitment statement.

Select a monthly learning theme

Choose a theme every month — activity management, exceptional service, sharing what you know, financial analysis for non-financial roles, etc — and hold team-wide events where employees can build camaraderie with one another and share ideas on the month’s topic.

Share a link to a blog or website each week

The theme can be directly related to something your team is talking about, or it can have no apparent connection at all. Either works. Just get employees talking about what they’re reading, what they learn, and how they can transfer that advice into their own roles in the workplace. For a few examples, check out Martha Beck’s blog on living a great life, or Seth Godin’s blog on marketing and personal accountability. Both have great messages about being successful today.

I’m a proponent of constant learning. And today’s best learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom or through a webinar. It happens in people’s daily connection with each other — that’s what ultimately improves performance, drives success, and makes a difference at work. There are so many ways to bring an expanded view of learning and learning methods into the workplace. Take learning out of the classroom to teach your employees how to be successful in today’s world, on today’s terms.

More: Let Employees Choose Their Own Training Materials.

Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations — their leaders and managers — in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. Follow him on Twitter.

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