Employee Training & Development: Methods, Types & Ideas #SHRM19


The mantra of virtually every CEO is that “people are our most important asset.”

HR naturally aims to support this vision by developing people through an employee training and development program.

Sounds simple enough. But with 1,241 training and development companies listed in SHRM’s 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition vendor directory - each with a different approach to employee development - how is HR supposed to navigate through the waters to find the right way to train and develop people? 

It’s all very confusing. So, I listened to conversations on Twitter and spoke with a handful of employee training and development companies at the annual SHRM conference. Here are the methods and ideas experts had to offer when it comes to training and development.

Finding the time

One of the biggest education challenges for organizations is simply time!  With growing business demands and the increasingly fast-paced world, making time for employees to learn can be a challenge. Beyond time, finding ways to link that learning to career development that is tailored to individual goals for employees in a meaningful way can also be a challenge. 

But research tells us that when organizations make the time and support employees’ developmental goals, the organization creates an environment of trust where employees are then more motivated to do better work. 

- Bethany J. Adams, Assistant Director of Grad Programs in HR Development, Villanova Human Resource Development


eLearning should be more than just “checking the box.” There should be a transfer of knowledge. And, eLearning doesn’t have to be boring. Start with the basics: make the learning short, relevant, and impactful to your learners.

While employee education is not a magic bullet to increasing employee retention, making sure your employees understand the company culture and know how to do their job can help set them up for success and establish the tone for their performance. When an employee feels they are part of something bigger and are performing well at their job, it generally reduces their chances of leaving.-

-Becky Murphy, Client Engagement Manager, Interactive Services

Leveraging AI in training

The people who need training and coaching the most are managers and lower level employees. But, most organizations can’t afford to hire an executive coach to train all their people.

Ai levels the playing field in terms of cost and provides organizations with accessibility to coaching. For HR professionals, it’s better phrased as iA - an intelligent assistant. It’s an assistant that helps train employees.

Now, you also need to be careful with where the Ai is coming from. Ai shouldn’t be used to predict turnover, because there may be bias in the analysis. But for training, the power of Ai gives you the ability to send behavioral nudges, check-in on coaching action plans, and develop employees by holding them accountable.

Every piece of software in the future will have some sort of Ai associated with it. We won’t even talk about it. So Ai shouldn’t be scary today. You don’t want to be left behind. Now is the time to learn through experiments and test cases. Maybe it will work for you, and there’s only one way to find out.

-Kevin Kruse, Founder & CEO, LEADx

Performance Reviews

There are a couple of items to address when setting up a performance management system. First, think about the frequency of the feedback. Second, think about the content behind the performance review.

In regards to frequency, are you conducting performance reviews once a year? Twice a year? More than twice a year is exhausting. Once a year is too far apart. You should be taking notes or journal entries about performance that will inform the reviews throughout the year.

For Content, is the performance review based on job duties? KPIs? Company Values? If you have ten different job titles, do you want ten different evaluations?

Every time you are conducting a performance review, you should ask the question, “Is the content reflective of the actual work you’re doing?” Organizations need to relook at those competencies. If you’re evaluating on items that aren’t reflective of the work, what’s the point?

-Michelle Bowman, COO, ReviewSnap


It is estimated that an average of 85 percent of the workforce day is spent in teamwork. 

HR professionals and all upper management need to realize that today’s employees value more than ever being recognized as an individual who has unique value to the team effort. There cannot be a single "management style" put upon the organization. Every individual has a unique communication style.

If organizations aren't focused on effective communication, then cultural evolution becomes impossible.

-Robert Cook, CEO, True Colors

Learning management system

Every company can benefit from a Learning Management System to help make training programs more streamlined, organized, and cost-effective.

It is often assumed that self-hosting an open-source LMS solution is the most cost-effective choice when implementing an eLearning system, but that does not show the full picture. Self-hosting takes a large amount of time and a very specific skill set. Rather than being something that an IT employee can work on part-time, it requires a dedicated, highly-skilled team of employees to manage your company’s learning platform. There is a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to hosting and managing a company’s LMS.

Additionally, many companies just don’t have the bandwidth to stay on top of the ever-evolving learning ecosystem.

Our recommendation? Find a partner in eLearning that can steer you in the right direction and help you stay on top of the latest trends and technologies, and advise on what tools and strategies to use in order to meet their particular goals.

-Brian Carlson, Founder & CEO, eThink Education

Potential of your workforce

The greatest areas of opportunity for your business may be found in the potential of your workforce. It begins with candidates and continues across the employee lifecycle—we believe it’s a missed opportunity to overlook that potential! Successful training and development strategies can include engaging talent from acquisition to executive training, or thinking more about empowering employees to flourish in their roles and boost the bottom line.

-Linda White, Director of Marketing, DeVryWORKS

Short video-based content

Employees today are more distracted than ever. According to a study by Deloitte, employees only have 1% of their work week to dedicate to training. Instructor-led, classroom-based learning is time consuming and largely ineffective because employees aren’t able to retain so much information at once. Organizations should strive to meet the needs of the modern learner by delivering training in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Short, video-based training content covers topics important to today’s workforce and can be watched anytime, anywhere and on any device.

-Derek Smith, Marketing Manager, BizLibrary

Something you want to do

The biggest drivers to workplace satisfaction are who you work for and who you work with. If your manager and peers display positive behaviors on a consistent basis, workplace satisfaction will generally be high as long as we are in a job we like. Every performance management program should reward people for behaviors that support your core values and drive team chemistry.

The biggest challenge for an organization’s performance management program is that most managers look at performance management as something they have to do. This is very unfortunate because the performance management process can have the biggest impact on an organization’s culture. Organizations can overcome this challenge by changing the narrative of performance management from “something I have to do” to  “something I want to do.”

-Melissa Phillippi, President and Co-founder, Performance Culture

Interested in learning more about employee training and development? Review SHRM’s vendor directory of training and development companies, or jump in the conversation on social media by following SHRM.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: