Employee training generally refers to programs that provide workers with information, new skills, or professional development opportunities. For example, people might be required to participate in a new employee orientation or on-the-job training when they are hired. Other types of employee training programs include those that encourage staff members to brush up on certain skills, or to stay current with developments in their field. There are also training strategies that deal with specific personnel issues that might arise on the job, such as worker safety or sexual harassment. Depending on the subject matter, training might be conducted by staff members or by outside consultants.
After new employees are hired by a company, they often go through a training period, prior to being assigned major job duties. This training is usually intended to orient them to the position and to give them the information they need to carry out their daily responsibilities. Part of this orientation could include meeting with the human resources staff and learning administrative tasks, such as filing paperwork. They might also be paired with mentors who can demonstrate how to perform more specific job functions. A related strategy, called on-the-job training, allows new employees to learn their jobs as they do them.
There are various other reasons that an employer might offer training and development programs for his or her current employees. For instance, many businesses conduct performance reviews, and use the results to identify areas in which employees need to sharpen their skills. Other goals might be to increase worker productivity, or to foster better relations among staff members. The training could also give employees an opportunity to increase their knowledge, leading to more advanced positions. Specific employee training topics can include technology updates or workplace safety procedures. They might also address potentially difficult issues, such as discrimination or harassment.
Employee training can have both advantages and disadvantages. Though there is little scientific data proving that training reduces staff turnover, a number of management experts claim that certain training programs can help boost staff retention and productivity. Such experts also argue that some specific types of training can promote a more positive attitude in the workplace. On the other hand, a frequently cited disadvantage is that training employees can cause an increase in travel and other expenses. It might also take time away from other job duties.
If the training is on a relatively simple topic, like a new software program, the staff members can usually complete training activities themselves. Some organizations employ their own training managers or specialists, whose function is to identify educational needs and organize the activities. If it revolves around a more complex or sensitive topic, however, the employer might hire an outside consultant to conduct the employee training.