Last updated June 13, 2024

Employee training materials A-Z

What Are Employee Training Materials?

Employee training materials are teaching materials that are designed specially with employees in mind.

This training might be:

Specific to employee training materials are the inclusion often of:

  • Team-building and collaboration training activities
  • Clear aims and objectives that are followed with actionable outcomes for employees to work on after the training
  • Trainer (teacher) notes

In essence, employee training materials help to facilitate training for staff by providing everything the trainer will need to teach the given topic.

The materials will often include group activities and icebreakers for starting the training, as well as instructions for running the training online (in the trainer/teacher notes).

Understanding the Skills Gap and Skills Gap Planning

To best understand what employee training is really needed in the workplace, it is a good idea to do a skills gap analysis and skills gap planning.

4 steps to skills gap planning
Diagram by Dr. Paul Symonds (2024)

I like to break down skills gap analysis into 4 sections and these are below with a quick explanation on each:

1. Identify skills that are needed in your workplace

The first step is to work out exactly what skills are needed in your department.

These skills can be a combination of very specific job skills, i.e. such as computer programming skills, or accountancy skills.

Then we have soft skills such as emotional intelligence skills, inclusive management (see the inclusive leadership training materials), and then sales and customer service skills.

What training is needed for your company, department, or team to operate efficiently and effectively?

The answer to this helps move us toward understanding what employee training materials we are going to need.

2. Evaluate what skills employees lack and need

The next step toward being able to create an employee training plan is to now look at what the existing skills of your employees are. So you are looking to understand:

  • What skills they have (having a list that you keep might be useful later on for future training too)
  • What skills they lack but need

3. Match budgets vs which skills gaps can be filled and are a priority

Deciding on what training to provide for employees is NOT a straightforward matter of finding what skills are missing and needed and then simply providing this training.

All training needs of course to fit into existing or planned budgets both in terms of financial cost and time.

It can often be a case of trying to work out how to get the maximum benefit for the budget you have at your disposal.

4. Plan training (including via mentoring & coaching) to fill the skills gap

The final stage will be to plan and organise the training.

In addition to classroom-style training via workshops, it is worth considering workplace mentoring and also coaching (see the coaching skills training materials).

How to Create Employee Teaching Materials

So, how can you go about creating employee training materials yourself? What stages are there in the design process? Let’s take a look.

Adaptability training course materials

Example from the Adaptability court materials

1. The audience

Start by thinking carefully about who you are going to be providing the training for.

If the training will be for hospital managers, for example, then the examples, case studies and training activities you include in the training will work best if the audience can relate to what you teach via hospital-related examples.

So, use case studies in the training that are also hospital-related in this case.

2. Plan the Aims and Objectives

Decide on clear aims and objectives for the training.

These aims and objectives are essential for guiding the structure of the training as you will want to work through the 3 to 5 objectives during the training, one at a time.

3. Research

You may be an SME (Subject Matter Expert) and already have all the knowledge needed to immediately start designing the employee training materials.

If there are any gaps in your knowledge that need filling, in order to design the materials and courseware, then do your own research to build your knowledge to the point that you can design the courseware effectively.

4. Start Designing

You have three main options in terms of ending up with a set of finalised employee training materials.

a) Design the Materials Yourself

If you will be designing the materials yourself, some tips are to:

  • Explain the aims and objectives at the start of the training session
  • Try and include an icebreaker activity (see the free icebreakers here) early on to get everyone involved and to relax the atmosphere
  • Ensure that you use language that the intended audience will understand
  • In terms of the PowerPoint slides design, make good use of whitespace on the slides, keep textual content concise, use visual imagery and make use of bullet point lists.

b) Buy Pre-Made Customizable Materials

This is what we offer here at Symonds Research and we have over 55 different sets of employee training materials. You can see the options by clicking the banner below.

Training course materials

c) Hire Someone to Design Your Materials

Some people offer services creating bespoke-made materials and you can go onto an online portal such as Upwork to seek out suitable people to hire for this.

Types of Employees to Train

In essence, all types of employees need training and this includes:

Every employee plays a role in the functioning of a business and all aspects of the business should be considered in terms of training.

An employee might only work on Saturdays in a part-time role but their role can be important, especially if they are front-line staff.

10 Effective Strategies for Teaching Employees New Skills

Providing training workshops

There is no exact one approach that must be taken for providing training for employees as different techniques suit different people.

Here are 10 proven strategies for teaching employees new skills and equipping them with the knowledge and expertise they need to thrive in their roles, so that they can contribute to the growth of the organization.

1. Mentoring

Mentoring is a too often underutilized option when it comes to upskilling employees.

Matching up employees with someone who is skilled in an area of expertise that another colleague needs training in, can be a quick and easy way (and very affordable way) to aid upskilling.

The mentor should provide guidance, support, and insights and help the mentee (the person learning), to develop their own skills and expertise.

One consideration though is that if someone has never been a mentor before, they might need some guidance on how to mentor.

(You might find the mentoring training course materials useful here).

2. Coaching

Coaching is another often under-used form of training in the workplace.

Coaching is different from mentoring in that coaching is about guiding someone to discover and work out the solution themselves, whereas with mentoring you are directly training them in how to do something.

Regular one-on-one coaching sessions facilitate ongoing skill development, foster confidence, and promote a culture of continuous improvement within the organization.

3. Job Rotation and Cross-Training

This isn’t suitable for every company and every situation, especially if everyone is already super busy.

Job rotation and cross-training initiatives can be wonderful though for giving employees the opportunity to experience a range of tasks and roles within the department or company.

Giving employees the opportunity to experience these different roles provides a couple of benefits and these are:

  • It gives employees a better understanding and appreciation of the challenges colleagues encounter
  • Employees in many cases use the skills learned from job rotation to do their job better (through an improved understanding of how other roles integrate with their own)
  • It gives employees a greater skill set
  • It breeds more flexibility in your company (with colleagues more easily able to cover for a colleague who is off sick, for example)

4. Online Learning Platforms

There is little doubt that workplace and employee training has changed a lot over the last 5 years.

Online learning platforms now make learning online much easier and the benefits are:

  • The chance to do training in the employees’ available time
  • Opportunity to allow each employee to receive bespoke training according to their needs
  • Saved time through not needing to travel to do training

The good news is that employee training materials such as those we offer here at Symonds Research, are designed such that they can also be used to provide online training and teaching.

5. Workshops and Seminars

A video you might find useful if providing classroom-based teaching

Whilst online learning is a great option, you can never truly beat in-person training with workshops and seminars in a physical classroom.

In-person learning can also provide a wonderful opportunity for networking and team building when employees from different companies or departments (within one company) are brought together.

Workshops and seminars are great for helping to build collaboration, generate creativity, and push innovation.

6. Peer-to-Peer Learning

A peer-to-peer learning initiative is different from coaching or mentoring in that this tends to involve a more passive and casual approach to teaching others.

For example, you might create a workplace lunchtime ‘Wellness and Well-being Club’ where employees who are trained in yoga, pilates, mindfulness etc. might want to volunteer for colleagues who wish to join the lunchtime club.

Other groups might be more two-way, with the peer learning group being a supportive learning community where employees can collaborate, exchange ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences.

7. Gamification

The word gamification is being used more often these days with training, and it refers to when game elements are included or built into the training.

In essence, gamification can help to make learning more engaging, immersive, and enjoyable for employees.

A common approach is to include rewards, badges, and leaderboards to motivate learning and drive healthy competition among employees.

For some employees, gamification provides a sense of achievement and progress.

8. On-the-Job Training (OJT)

On-the-job training (OJT) provides employees with hands-on learning experience.

An example is if you pair an employee with a skilled worker so that the individual can learn by performing tasks and receiving immediate feedback.

OJT facilitates experiential learning, enabling employees to apply new skills in real-world scenarios and gain practical insights that enhance their competence and confidence on the job.

9. Simulations and Role-Playing

Often used within training workshops and sessions, simulations and role-playing exercises can be a great way to offer an immersive learning experience that simulates a real-world scenario.

The benefit here is that by practising and experiencing real-world examples, the employee has the chance to think through what they would do in a real situation.

This can help the employee to hone their decision-making ability, communication skills, and problem-solving skills.

10. Continuous Feedback and Evaluation

Feedback and evaluation are incredibly powerful tools!

They can help you identify areas for improvement, and measure learning outcomes.

Regular assessment of employee performance allows organizations to provide timely feedback, acknowledge achievements, and address any gaps in knowledge or skills.

By continuously monitoring and evaluating training initiatives, organizations can refine their approach, optimize learning outcomes, and ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed.

Feedback Training Course Materials
>> Feedback Training Course Materials

Using Multimedia Elements in Your Teaching Materials

Multimedia can be used to make your teaching materials more effective.

If including some of the multimedia elements listed below though, do ensure that you make what you create high-quality.

High-quality webcams these days, for example, are inexpensive if you want to make a video with a good screen resolution, to use in your training.

Visuals

Visuals should complement the text and help illustrate key concepts or processes. Avoid using excessive or unrelated visuals that may distract or confuse employees.

Videos

Videos can be particularly effective for demonstrating practical skills, showcasing product features, or presenting complex concepts.

In addition to ensuring that the videos you make are good quality, one of the keys is to ensure that the sound quality is also excellent and clear.

Consider breaking long videos into shorter segments of say 5 to 10 minutes, to keep the attention of the learners.

Infographics

Infographics are great for making complex information look simpler, through visuals.

You can use infographics to present things such as data and statistics, in a more visually understandable way for learners.

They condense complex information into digestible visual cues to make it simpler for employees to understand and take in.

Audio Clips and Narration

Lastly, consider incorporating audio clips or narrations to provide additional explanations, context, or storytelling.

Audio clips can enhance the learning experience, particularly for auditory learners or employees who prefer to learn through listening.

By incorporating multimedia elements into your teaching materials, you can enhance engagement, improve information retention, and make the learning experience more enjoyable for your employees.

Choosing the Right Format for Teaching Materials

When it comes to creating teaching materials, choosing the right format can be the difference between a well-run and enjoyable workshop that engages the participants, or a workshop that falls flat.

Different formats have different advantages and limitations, and selecting the appropriate format depends on the nature of the content, the learning objectives, and the preferences of your employees.

Slide Show Presentations (Combined with Teaching and Activities)

One of the most popular formats for using employee teaching materials is to use slide presentations.

Microsoft PowerPoint slides are one of the best options given that PowerPoint is relatively easy to use and yet it can provide great interactivity and there are several templates that you can use.

Slides, designed well, should be visually appealing, should be designed without any overload of text and have plenty of white space.

Whilst the slide example below has a lot of text, each speech cloud pops up one at a time and it still works well when used with the growth Mindset courseware.

Growth mindset expressions PowerPoint slide

>> Example PowerPoint slide from the Growth Mindset training course materials

They are particularly useful for presenting complex concepts, data, or step-by-step processes. When creating slide decks, keep the content concise, use visuals to support the text, and incorporate interactive elements such as quizzes or polls to increase engagement.

The trick is to use slides to show information in such a way that it looks visually appealing, whilst also being structured clearly and simply.

Video

When you consider that YouTube is now the most-watched TV or video channel in the world, you can see the power of video!

Videos can be highly engaging and can be particularly effective for visual learners!

As mentioned before when we talked about video, ensure that any videos you make are high quality, have clear audio, and are visually appealing.

Break down complex topics into shorter segments to enhance comprehension and retention.

Interactive Learning Modules

You can also use interactive e-learning modules as needed.

Interactive elements such as interactive quizzes and simulations can work effectively well when designed well.

Designing User-Friendly and Visually Appealing Materials

Start by choosing a clean and professional layout for your materials.

Use consistent fonts and colors, and use images and photos that clearly match and portray the message you are trying to give.

Avoid cluttered designs or excessive use of decorative elements that may distract or confuse employees.

  • Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to break down the content into smaller, digestible chunks.
  • Incorporate visual cues such as bold or italicized text to highlight key messages or important information.
  • Make good use of white space to improve readability (i.e., leaving lots of white space on the page is easier on the eye)
  • Make sure that your teaching materials are accessible to employees with disabilities. Use appropriate color contrasts, and include image alt tags etc.

Updating and Improving Teaching Materials Over Time

Do remember that creating employee teaching materials is an ongoing process.

It does in part depend on the topic and type of employee training program that you are designing materials and training courseware for.

Training materials designed about the following topics, for example, will tend to need little updating:

  • Time management
  • Presentation skills
  • Active listening skills

Other types of training really need checking once a year or more to ensure that information to do with things such as legislation is up-to-date.

Types of course materials that can need updating often include ones related to:

  • Compliance learning
  • Legislation-related training, i.e. ADA and Equality Act related

If your training materials relate to the latter group, make sure to regularly review your employee teaching materials.

Identify any areas that may need updating or improvement and stay up to date with industry trends, best practices, and new related research.

10 Tips for Leveraging the Tools for Developing Effective Training Materials

Let’s look also at how you can use the latest tools and build on emerging trends for effective course materials design.

1. Utilize Learning Management Systems (LMS)

If you are a large company or organization, using an LMS can be worth considering.

An LMS can include features that make your learning scalable, give you great access to detailed analytics, and provide mobile compatibility.

Existing 3rd options at this time include the likes of Moodle and Canvas.

2. Incorporate Mobile Learning

So many, these days, are using smartphones and that includes for learning on the go.

What better time and place, for example, to do online courses, say, on a subway or underground train whilst commuting?

With flexible work hours also comes flexible learning and making sure your training materials and courseware are set up for mobile devices, is a good idea.

Platforms such as Udemy and Coursera are optimized for mobile learning.

3. Leverage Content Authoring Tools

There are many great advanced authoring tools available on the market for creating interactive and engaging content.

Some options include Articulate 360, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora.

4. Implement Virtual Reality (VR) Simulations

Whilst you might need to be a sizeable company to invest in VR, this is an option.

You can use VR for immersive and experiential learning, particularly for complex or hazardous tasks.

5. Explore Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is another further option.

You can use AR to overlay digital information on the physical world, enhancing real-time, hands-on training.

One example is if you wanted to provide maintenance staff with the chance to use AR glasses to view step-by-step repair instructions directly overlaid on machinery.

6. Gamify the Learning Experience

Gaming, as we touched on earlier, can be used to create gaming-style elements into your training such as points, badges, and leaderboards to motivate and engage employees.

7. Use Data Analytics for Continuous Improvement

I have to be honest and admit that I often ignore checking the analytics that I have access to, but it is a good idea to check and use analytics to improve training.

You can, for example, leverage learning analytics to track progress, identify knowledge gaps, and refine training programs.

8. Promote Collaborative Learning

There are tools out there also to promote collaborative learning.

Some useful examples of tools in this area include Microsoft Teams and Slack. You can use these tools to create discussion groups, share resources, and facilitate group projects.

9. Adopt Blended Learning Approaches

Blended learning is becoming more common and it refers to when you combine online digital media with traditional in-person methods of providing training.

Learning does not need to be one or the other regarding online or in-person training.

Do consider mixing e-learning modules with face-to-face workshops and practical hands-on sessions to cater to different learning preferences, if you feel it could improve the training outcomes.

FAQs

Why are training materials important for employee growth?

Training materials provide a structured way or teaching employees. This training, in turn, helps employees develop their skills, which helps their own career growth and aids productivity for the company.

Can I buy employee teaching materials?

Companies such as Symonds Research sell pre-made and customizable employee teaching materials. This will save you a lot of time designing your own training courseware.

Who should deliver the teaching to employees?

Training for employees can be delivered by an in-house trainer, by someone with subject matter expertise, or a manager. The HR department will often help make this decision.

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
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