Training your staff

Training methods to fit your business


An outline of some methods your business could use to help train your staff, including their advantages and disadvantages.

Training method What it involves Advantages Disadvantages
Coaching By talking through a problem or task with a coach / manager, employees can arrive at a solution or better method of working
  • Cost-effective if done in-house
  • Specific to your business' needs
  • Coach/manager needs coaching
  • Can be time-consuming
E-learning Employees follow courses online
  • Employees teach themselves at their convenience
  • Low cost
  • Courses tend to be general rather than specific to your business' needs
Evening classes Training through classes held in the evenings
  • No disruption to employees' work
  • May disrupt work-life balance of employees
  • Employees may resent having to attend classes in the evening and may not turn up
Workshops A group of employees train together under the supervision of a trainer - typically involves explanation, examples, trying out the skill or method, reviewing what happens, and considering developments and alternatives
  • Employees practice solving problems
  • Time-consuming - typically takes at least half a day, if not more
  • May be disruptive to your business if many employees attend at the same time
  • Can be expensive if you send many employees to workshops
Study leave

Employees are given paid leave to attend courses and attain a recognised qualification

  • Both the business and employee benefit
  • Can be a good recruitment incentive
  • Tax relief may be available on cost of course
  • May be difficult to decide who is eligible
Induction Formal or informal way of helping a new employee to settle down quickly in the job by introducing them to people, the business, processes etc
  • Can be formal or informal
  • Low cost
  • Focused on new employees and those starting new roles
  • May take up large part of manager's time if many new people start at the same time
Job shadowing One employee observes another employee going about their job
  • Low cost
  • Specific to your business/their role
Mentoring A more senior person typically supports an executive / manager / director by providing advice, support and a forum for discussing problems
  • Provides personal development
  • Low-cost
  • Limited to more senior employees
  • For mentoring to be effective, the personalities and experience of mentor and employee need to be complementary
Networking / seminars
Employees attend a seminar on a specific topic - this can be in-house, at an industry event or organised by a training specialist
  • Useful way of getting a lot of information over to a large audience
  • At industry events and at seminars organised by training specialists, employees can talk to their peers as competitors/partners
  • Employees may be unable to discuss specific problems in front of rivals
  • Retention of information may be low if there is a lot of information to convey to employees
Distance learning Employees train through courses devised by educational institutions (eg Open University), but are not required to attend traditional classes
  • Increasingly web-based
  • Employees can learn at their convenience
  • Courses tend to be general rather than specific to your business' needs
Simulation / role-playing Typically employees in a particular department (eg sales) come together to take on roles to help work through possible scenarios (eg customer complaint)
  • Employees learn by doing and are prepared for possible situations at work
  • Specific to your business
  • Can be led by a manager