employees in a training meeting

According to a study by the Association for Talent Development, in 2013 organizations spent an average of $1,208 and 31.5 education hours per employee on training and development. Spending on employee training is high, but that doesn’t mean that the investment is always reflected in employee performance. In order to ensure that your training hours and dollars are translating to higher performance, here are five essentials to a successful employee training program:

1. Set a training schedule

This may sound obvious, but organizing your training programs based on a timeline makes it easier to track progress and schedule subsequent instruction. As part of your regular scheduling program, include consistent training sessions in hard skills (e.g. medication management) and soft skills (e.g. communicating concerns to a patient’s family), which will require different procedures and planning. Regularity can help your employees prepare for follow-up training and evaluation as well as standardize your system. When setting a training schedule, it’s best to plan sessions during slow hours or slow days, where it won’t interfere with employees’ caregiving hours.

2. Match your training method to the skill you’re training

Not all training methods are created equal, so strategize when you’ll use a computer training program versus a group meeting or one-on-one coaching. Some employees will learn best with hands-on training while others may work well with reading materials or testing. Evaluate the skills you want to train in and decide which method will be most cost effective and learning conducive for your employees.

3. Train for skills rather than personality

Personality can’t be taught or changed through a training session. If you need a specific personality for a position, look for that during the hiring process, but don’t expect to change someone’s personality or attitude during training. Rather than trying to teach a caregiver to be an extrovert (personality), train in methods for communicating with a dementia patient (skill), which can be learned regardless of personality.

4. Provide certificates

Though most instruction will be obligatory, other training (e.g. cooking) may be optional. As a small incentive to complete these trainings, you may want to offer certificates or awards of achievement for those who successfully complete their training program. This encourages employee development and serves as physical evidence of a caregiver’s qualifications. Certifications can also be used as an authoritative proof of quality that verifies to your clients that your caregivers are trained.

5. Consistently verify the effectiveness of the training

To confirm that your caregivers and staff are retaining and using the skills taught in training, you should frequently measure their performance. After training, put their new skills to the test or have a supervisor verify that they’re using what they’ve learned. These moments of follow-through provide a great opportunity to do further coaching on an individual basis and to evaluate the success of your training program. If you do not see a general improvement after a training program than you’re either training on the wrong skillset (i.e. one that doesn’t directly pertain to the employee’s work) or your training method is not effective and you should reevaluate.

Effective training makes for more satisfied and better qualified employees. Though it may seem expensive to train an employee, the errors made by underqualified workers ultimately cost far more. If you’re going to dedicate a substantial amount of time and money to caregiver and staff training programs, it is well worth the effort to plan ahead and evaluate your programs to ensure that your training is successful.

For more tips and tools to effective training and mentoring, check out these free resources from our library: