How Employees Learn

7 Types of Training Methods (and How to Choose)

Traditional types of training methods are exactly what they say they are—traditional! Instead of engaging learners by being innovative, creative, fresh, lightweight, and sometimes funny, they often feel like a burden and unwelcome obligation.

Old days’ training methods fall short of everything they can do to maximize learners’ attention and information recall. Additionally, and in corporate settings, they ignore the collateral effects of effective training methods. As a result, companies miss a terrific opportunity to make their employees happier and more productive.

It’s not just the training materials—it’s the training method. Many organizations focus on creating good-looking training materials. However, design is not all about aesthetics—it’s primarily about function. And if an employee training course doesn’t meet its functional goals, it fails—no matter how pretty the materials are. 

Nowadays, the variety of training methods can seem overwhelming. Therefore, we compiled a list of the best types of training methods for employees. We’ll also give you some advice on how to select the method that best suits your employees.

How Important Is It To Choose the Right Training Method?

Choosing the best option from a long list of training methods for employees can seem daunting. But corporate training is essential for employee onboarding and employee retention. Figuring out what works best for your employees doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Onboarding is a perfect moment to deliver training. A new staff member is bursting with excitement about joining your company. They’re like sponges ready to soak up all the information they possibly can—about the company, the business, or their function.

Existing employees are also eager to extend and develop their skills. In any case, for the sake of learning effectiveness, the training method is as important as the content and activities.

On top of the different levels of employees that need training, we have an indisputable truth: everyone learns differently. Some prefer to learn by watching, others by listening or reading and writing, and others by doing. Some learners change their preference depending on certain conditions. The topic might also influence the appropriateness of one method over the other.

Powered by technology, the types of training methods are numerous. And we didn’t discard any of the traditional training methods yet, because they do have their perks. Let’s explore the features of each training method for employees.

Different Types of Training Methods

Most training methods target more than one learning style, whereas some focus on one particular style. And that’s okay! Because if you offer training using different types of methods, you’ll satisfy the styles of different employees. And unless the topic calls for a particular training method, you might even offer a variety of methods for a single topic. You can also give your staff options to learn in different ways depending on the circumstances. For instance, they might wish to learn by listening on one day and by watching on another.

Below are seven of the best types of employee training methods:

  1. Case Studies
  2. Coaching
  3. eLearning
  4. Instructor-Led Training
  5. Interactive Training
  6. On-the-Job Training
  7. Video-Based Training

Check out the details and benefits of each type!

1. Case Studies

This type of training is great for developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. The scenarios can be real or imaginary, but in the context of employee training, they all illustrate situations at work.

Learners read the case studies and then analyze and solve them individually or in a group. Some solutions might be better than others, depend on assumptions, and be either optimal or the best possible given the circumstances.

Although case studies allow your staff to learn at their own pace, they’re most useful for less complex topics.

2. Coaching

Mentorship—another name for coaching—should be an impactful and memorable learning experience. At least, that’s the expectation of mentors and mentorees.

When your experienced staff dedicates time and effort to coaching new employees, those new employees will feel valued and supported. Put some emphasis on the time and effort required by mentors, and remember that it pays off.

Although coaching and on-the-job training might seem similar, coaching:

  • Focuses on the mentor-mentoree relationship
  • Is more inspiring
  • Is most likely to make the employee comfortable asking questions

You can also deliver coaching sessions online—making them even more accessible.

3. eLearning

You might know this one by online training. It’s computer-based training that’s delivered from a distance, online. The advantages?

  • Learners can go through the content and activities at their own pace.
  • There’s no need to hire an instructor.
  • It scales beautifully, so the number of simultaneous learners can increase tremendously.

Oftentimes, this type of training:

  • Resembles classroom training
  • Uses visuals with a voiceover
  • Complements lessons with videos and reading materials

As you don’t have an instructor monitoring engagement levels, you must use other means to do it. Quizzes and other types of interactive activities are wonderful for that purpose. They also allow you to appraise the progress of each employee and the effectiveness of the training.

4. Instructor-Led Training

Whether it’s in-person or online, an instructor-led training session is very much based on the dynamics of a classroom.

  • Led by an instructor
  • With a presentation—just like a lecture

Although an academic-like classroom experience may not seem thrilling to some learners, the method has some significant pros.

  • Learners can ask the instructor questions that the materials don’t cover in real-time.
  • Instructors can monitor learners’ progress and engagement.
  • Learners and instructors can build a relationship with each other.
  • Complex topics are sometimes easier to teach in a classroom.

On the other hand, whether they’re online or physical, classrooms—or instructor-led training sessions—have some cons.

  • A high number of learners prevents the instructor from interacting one-on-one with all of them.
  • Learners can’t learn at their own pace since there are multiple learners in the (in-person or virtual) room.

5. Interactive Training

Anything interactive has the potential to grab our attention. And training is no different! That’s why interactive training is highly engaging and effective. Learners absorb more information, retain it faster, and recall it for longer periods of time.

The success of interactive training comes from being practical rather than theoretical. So, employees learn by applying knowledge in a realistic setting.

Here are three examples of interactive training:

  • Game-based training. Using rewards like points increases motivation levels, and this type of training can make learning fun.
  • Roleplaying. A facilitator manages the process of acting out different work scenarios with the learners. It’s especially effective for client or customer interaction training as it explores difficult situations in a controlled environment.
  • Simulations. These can be appropriate for learning specialized, complex skills, like for medicine or aviation training. Simulations set up real work scenarios for the learners, so augmented or virtual reality can be great simulation tools.

6. On-the-Job Training

Also known as hands-on training, on-the-job training is all about the practical skills that a job requires. Therefore, the employee learns by going through the experience of executing real activities at work.

On-the-job training reduces the time before the employee starts performing their job function. It can take different forms, such as:

  • Internships. Interns obtain guidance, support, and training from the company that hired them. And the more prior knowledge they have of what the job entails, the better for their future success.
  • Rotations. Job rotations boost employee motivation, satisfaction, cooperation, and commitment to the company. By exposing the employee to different business areas of your company, they develop skills they might not otherwise have and a deeper understanding of and commitment to the company as a whole. This increases retention levels and your employees’ chances of moving up in their own department or in another.
  • Shadowing. New hires observe existing employees while they work, ask questions, and sometimes help with tasks. By doing that, new hires understand how they’ll have to do their work before they actually have to do it.

Employee engagement—or interest and involvement—is vital for the success of on-the-job training. Engagement is typically heightened with on-the-job training since it’s individual and the learning activities intimately relate to the employee’s job.

On-the-job training produces results quickly and is also appropriate for teaching and developing leadership skills.

7. Video-Based Training

Speed and efficiency—these are the keywords that propelled video as an employee training vehicle. Additionally, it became popular because it can be way more interesting than traditional training methods. It’s highly engaging and can be entertaining as well!

Animations raise information recall to impressive levels. Live-action videos are great for demonstrations. Webinars and screen recordings of step-by-step procedures can take a simple list and turn it into an entertaining, story-based how-to.

Video-based training is easily accessible and repeatable—the employee can watch the video as many times as they need. Also, it doesn’t require an instructor.

Now that you know each one of the types of training methods for employees, are you ready to choose? Here are some tips on making the right choice for your organization!

How To Choose the Right Employee Training Method

To choose a training method, you should analyze your training needs from two perspectives.

  • The goal of your training program. Different types of employee training fit different purposes.
    • Coaching is perfect for teaching leadership, emotional intelligence, or change-management skills.
    • eLearning is especially useful for teaching company policies.
    • Roleplaying works well for teaching how to deal with employees who don’t follow company policies.
    • Video-based training is great for teaching new knowledge, such as industry or technological trends.
  • The audience for training. You should aim for a training method that attains the goals of your training program, right? To get there, you need your target audience to believe in the benefits of the program. And some training methods are better than others for specific audiences.
    • Older employees might feel more comfortable with instructor-led training.
    • Millennials often prefer training methods compatible with mobile devices, such as games and video.
    • Any online training is most effective when employees are remotely located, are senior-level staff with limited availability, or travel a lot.

Types of Training Methods for All Tastes and Needs

Long story short, employee training is continuous, and companies need it to thrive and prosper. Without developing their employees’ skills, companies can’t face the competition.

Choosing the right training method for your employees is integral to effective training. And you might find value from using varied training methods. It all depends on why you’re delivering the training program and to whom.

The suitability of your training methods to your goals and audience is indispensable to the success of your training program. Finding the right training method makes your employees more skilled and aligned with their job and your company.