A group of employees sits around a wood-topped conference table. Most of the seated participants have laptops, tabets or pads of paper. At one end of the table, facing the camera, is a woman standing as if to give a presentation or lead a talk.
Instructor-led training sessions are ideal for employees who want to be able to interact with and ask questions of an instructor while learning. — Getty Images/FG Trade

If you’ve decided to invest in employee training, the next step is to figure out a method of training that makes the information stick. There are many different learning styles; some people are visual learners, while others need hands-on experience. How can you find an employee training method that works best for your team? Here are some of the most popular options available and the pros and cons of each method.

[Read more: What Is Employee Training and Development?]

E-learning

E-learning is a great option for companies that have remote workforces or those that wish to allow employees to learn outside of work hours. E-learning or computer-based training (CBT) administers courses either live or through self-paced modules. E-learning caters to all types of learning styles: visuals paired with a voice-over and interactive activities keep every employee engaged. E-learning is scalable and relatively cost-effective, depending on the platform and service you choose. There are many free courses on sites like Coursera and eDX.

However, e-learning has a few drawbacks. Because employees are using a screen, it’s easy to get distracted by other apps or internet sites. It may also be difficult to find the specific training you’re looking for on an e-learning site. For more niche topics, you may need to create your own course — which can quickly become expensive.

Instructor-led training

Some companies elect to bring in an instructor to provide in-person training to their employees. Classroom training has the advantage of being tailored to your specific work culture and business needs. Business owners are often able to work with the instructor to communicate areas of weakness and receive customized instruction. Participants can also ask questions in person to the instructor and get feedback.

Instructor-led training doesn’t scale easily. Yes, you can video record the training session (with permission) and show it to future new hires. In-person training often doesn’t translate as well over video, however. And some employees may not find instructor-led training that engaging.

Coaching is typically offered to develop specific capabilities in your senior managers or mid-level managers whom you are hoping to promote.

Hands-on training

Hands-on or on-the-job training allows employees to learn by doing. It’s one of the most effective ways to teach a new skill quickly. It can also be highly rewarding for employees who learn something new and contribute to business results simultaneously.

However, hands-on training can sometimes put employees in a stressful situation. A team member might feel thrown in the deep end; without the right support, hands-on training can be a mistake for learning more technical skills. Hands-on training also tends to be time-consuming. Smaller teams that are trying to accomplish a lot, and quickly, may benefit more from mentorship or job shadowing.

[Read more: 3 Strategies for Office Safety Training for COVID and Beyond]

Mentorship or coaching

Mentorship, shadowing, or coaching — a category of learning known as “social learning” — can be either formal or informal. Some merchants choose to implement a formal mentorship program in which a manager mentors an entry-level employee, or a senior executive mentors a manager. The biggest advantage of a more formal program is that it not only provides specific business training, but also professional development. It can also foster closer working relationships among your employees.

Coaching, which often involves bringing in a third party to deliver individual training, offers similar advantages. Coaching is typically offered to develop specific capabilities in your senior managers or mid-level managers whom you are hoping to promote. These methods provide targeted, tailored training that is highly effective — but on an individual level. It can be expensive to provide outside individual coaching to every member of your workforce.

Gamification

Gamification is one of the newest trends in employee training and has become very popular in recent years. As part of e-learning, gamification creates incentives for completing or participating in employee training. This method motivates employees and creates a highly engaging environment in which all different learning types can thrive.

However, gamification may appeal to some employees more than others. One training expert notes, “As a refined version of e-learning, [gamification] has the ability to alienate people in age groups who don’t have an experience with gamified environments — which can lead to them feeling disconnected from the content.” Some companies implement gamification offline, providing quizzes and team-building exercises to bring a little healthy competition into a training session.

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Published July 27, 2021