4 Steps to Create a Successful Employee Training Program

Students

Employee training programs benefit businesses in many ways. In addition to attracting top talent, cutting recruiting costs, and improving both employee retention and job satisfaction, it’s fiscally responsible business. Studies have shown that organizations with robust training programs have seen an ROI of up to 144% for every dollar spent on employee development. Those are numbers every executive would like to see.

To take advantage of this trend, you’ll need to devote time for research and to think through how to structure employee training within your organization.

Here are 4 areas you should consider before you get started.

1. Identify areas of need.

Setting a business goal, like increasing sales, output, or number of projects, can help focus training on areas you need to improve within your organization. You can also look to the future or ask your employees directly.

  • Look to the future. Survey current trends to anticipate your organization’s needs. How will technology shape the future of your organization? Are there roles or responsibilities that will need to be filled or skills within the team that need to be developed? Use employee training to get to the forefront of change and prepare for sustained success in the future.
  • Ask your employees. Sometimes the most effective way to understand the training needs of your team is to ask them where they see opportunities to learn and grow. An informal discussion or survey will introduce ideas that may have never occurred to you. Your employees know best which areas of training will be useful to them in their daily responsibilities. Engaging employees in this process will empower them and make them a partner in the process.
Bruce Campbell

Studies have shown that organizations with robust training programs have seen an ROI increase of up to 144% for every dollar spend on employee development.”

Bruce Campbell | Director of Business Development for the Office of Executive Education 

2. Identify who you want to train.

Once you identify and prioritize your areas of need, you must decide who will be involved in the trainings. To some extent, your budget, resources, and bandwidth will determine the number of participants. However, the actual content of the trainings should be the most important factor. If you need to teach a new program or technology, you may want to train an entire department or organization, whereas you may decide to reserve leadership training for a select group of high-potential employees.

3. Identify effective presentation styles.

You’ll want to deliver your training in such a way that your employees retain as much of the information as possible. After all, you’re going through this exercise so they can perform better in their day-to-day roles. Avoid passive measures of learning, like lectures and presentations, when possible. Studies have shown that individuals only retain 20% of information1 presented in these ways. Shadowing and mentor programs aren’t as effective with larger groups. Instead, deliver information through interactive, hands-on exercises and workshops. Your employees will not only retain more information but will also have a deeper understanding of complex concepts that they’ll be able to apply on the job.

4. Identify metrics.

It’s critical to create metrics that measure the effectiveness of your employee training programs. Use these metrics to protect your investment of time and resources and to also build a more sustainable and scalable training program.

Short-term metrics. Ask your employees for feedback immediately after the training, while the information is most fresh in their minds. Gut reactions are often the most honest reactions. You can also set benchmarks in the upcoming weeks or months for how to incorporate the training into their work.

Long-term metrics. Your long-term metrics are your business goals. Did your revenue increase from one quarter to the next? Year-over-year? Has your organization become more efficient? Hopefully the answer is yes, and you can continue or expand upon your training programs. If not, go back to the beginning to identify areas of need. You may need a little more focus.

Now that you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to start executing. Whether you choose to develop your materials in-house or seek a university or corporate partner, you’re well on your way to reaping the rewards of a successful employee training program. 

For a consultative assessment about building a custom training program for your organization, contact Bruce Campbell, Director of Business Development, Carey Business School Office of Executive Education, at bruce.campbell@jhu.edu or 410-234-9325.


  1. Simon, Carmen. (2016). Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions. New York. McGraw-Hill Education.

Posted on June 19, 2018 In Executive Education, Executive Education, Alumni, Partners