Employee Training


Learning Objective

  1. Understand basic legislation related to training in organizations
  2. Describe employee orientation
  3. Summarize the differences between in-house training and external training
  4. Describe the steps in developing training programs
  5. Understand the principles of employee development
  6. Explain how to assess training effectiveness

Training is the act of increasing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of an employee for doing a particular job. Organizations invest in training to make sure employees can perform their jobs effectively. A vast amount of research supports the fact that training is positively and directly related to organizational performance (Garavan, McCarthy, Lai, Murphy, Sheehan, Carbery, 2020).

Even when the right person has been selected, they may need training in how your company does things. Lack of training can result in loss of productivity, loss of customers, and poor relationships between employees and managers. It can also result in dissatisfaction, which means retention problems and high turnover. All of these consequences  can have an impact on direct costs to the organization. In fact, a study performed by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that 41 percent of employees at companies with poor training, planned to leave within the year, but in companies with excellent training, only 12 percent planned to leave (Branham, 2005). Thus, training can be considered as an investment in employees that is central to an organization’s health.

Effective employee training can take several different approaches. A well-designed orientation program is often key to an employee’s transition into a new workplace by giving them an overview of the company’s policies and culture. They may receive specific in-house training on important workplace issues or job-specific areas at these sessions. In some organizations, new employees are assigned a mentor or coach to help with their transition. Depending on the organization, employees will continue to be offered in-house training specific to their jobs or enhance their knowledge of company policies and workplace initiatives. Finally, companies may send employees to external training events or bring external service providers into a company to deliver specialized training.

Training and Development

Training and development is a key Human Resources function.

Training refers to formal and planned efforts to help employees acquire knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve performance in their current job. Training can also be described as an endeavor aimed to improve or develop additional competency or skills in an employee on the job one currently holds in order to increase performance or productivity. Training involves a change in attitude, skills, or knowledge of a person with the result being an improvement in behaviour. For training to be effective it has to be a planned activity conducted after a thorough needs analysis and targeted at certain competencies.

Development on the other hand refers to formal and planned efforts to help employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform future job responsibilities and for the long-term achievement of individual goals and/or organizational objectives.

Training & Education, is there a difference?

The terms education and training are often used interchangeably. However, education is the process of acquiring knowledge and information, usually in a formal manner while training is the mastery of a skill or skill set.


What training can and cannot do.

All organizations should be aware that training will not solve all problems. At times, organizations attempt to use training to solve a problem when a lack of skill is not the issue. Training is not an intervention to a situation that is caused by poor performance or other root causes that are not skill-related.

Let’s think about it this way, if we are working with employees who are having difficulty with job execution, missing tasks, or not following through, training might not be the best intervention. Instead, we could correct the deficiency by providing more objective feedback, or by adding or removing behavioural consequences. For example, if an individual is not performing the job but could do so if his or her life depended on it retraining is not the answer.

Employee Orientation

Probably the most basic and common training that organizations invest in is an employee orientation program. Employee orientation is the process used for welcoming a new employee into the organization. The objectives of employee orientation are as follows:

  1. To reduce start-up costs. If an orientation is done right, it can help get the employee up to speed on various policies and procedures, so the employee can start working right away. It can also be a way to ensure all hiring paperwork is filled out correctly, so the employee is paid on time.
  2. To reduce anxiety. Starting a new job can be stressful. One goal of an orientation is to reduce the stress and anxiety people feel when going into an unknown situation.
  3. To reduce employee turnover. Employee turnover tends to be higher when employees don’t feel valued or are not given the tools to perform. Employee orientation can show that the organization values the employee and provides the tools necessary for a successful entry.
  4. To save time for the supervisor and coworkers. A well-done orientation makes for a better prepared employee, which means less time having to teach the employee.
  5. To set expectations and attitudes. If employees know from the start what the expectations are, they tend to perform better. Likewise, if employees learn the values and attitudes of the organization from the beginning, there is a higher chance of a successful tenure at the company.

Some companies use employee orientation as a way to introduce employees not only to the company policies and procedures but also to the staff.

Figure 6.1. An example of an orientation schedule for the day

Sample of a detailed orientation schedule. - Link to PDF
Source: Sample schedule courtesy of VA St. Louis Healthcare system, https://www.stlouis.va.gov/NEO/NEO_Internet_Schedule_2016.pdf (accessed December 8, 2021).

In-house training programs are learning opportunities developed by the organization in which they are used. This is usually the second step in the training process and often is ongoing. In-house training programs can be training related to a specific job, such as how to use a particular kind of software. In a manufacturing setting, in-house training might include an employee learning how to use a particular kind of machinery.

Many companies provide in-house training on various HR topics as well, meaning it doesn’t always have to relate to a specific job. Some examples of in-house training include the following:

  • Ethics training
  • Sexual harassment training
  • Multicultural training
  • Communication training
  • Management training
  • Customer service training
  • Operation of special equipment
  • Basic skills training

In the 1980’s, the fast-food chain Wendy’s had gained a reputation for its training videos. Below is a classic one on how to pour drinks (trigger warning: it’s from another era!).

External Training

External training includes any type of training that is not performed internally by the organization. It can include sending an employee to a seminar to help further develop leadership skills or helping pay tuition for an employee who wants to take a marketing class.


Garavan, T, McCarthy, A, Lai, Y, Murphy, K, Sheehan, M, Carbery, R (2020) Training and organisational performance: A meta‐analysis of temporal, institutional, and organisational context moderators. Human Resource Management Journal,  126


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Human Resources Management - 2nd Ontario Edition Copyright © 2022 by Elizabeth Cameron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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