TestGorilla LogoTestGorilla Logo

Employee training programs: Leverage this talent retention strategy and develop your staff


Upskilling and professional growth are more important to workers than ever.

One study found that 92% of employees believe having access to career development is important. 

Further, employees who explore development opportunities have 34% higher retention.[1]

Career development is a crucial employee retention strategy – but you can’t have solid career development without a great employee training program.

Employee training programs are structured courses that help employees learn new skills and move into new positions. For example, a software engineer may pursue a management course and leadership training to upskill into a leadership role.

These programs also help employees understand compliance and regulations, improving their confidence and skill in their work, which makes them more likely to stay in their roles. 

This guide discusses the benefits of a successful training program for employees and best practices for building one. It also gives real-life examples of great programs that help employers engage, satisfy, and retain their workers.

What are employee training programs?

Employee training programs are structured courses that teach workers new technical and soft skills, improve performance in current positions, and help them upskill into new roles.

They also help employees learn specific compliance rules with laws, such as teaching HR professionals which employees are eligible for certain benefits.

Standardized training programs for employees provide employees with learning opportunities, increasing satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

Increasing these metrics provides direct benefits and helps you tackle employee retention trends, like improving your corporate reputation.

Employee training program examples include a sales course that helps employees build negotiation and objection-handling skills or a compliance training session that teaches nurses new medical regulations.

Different types of training programs for employees

There are many examples of training and development programs for employees:

  • Orientation training: Helps new employees prepare for their role in the company

  • Onboarding training: Gets new hires up to speed, introduces them to their job, and helps them learn company culture

  • Compliance training: Teaches employees information required by regulation, policy, or legislation

  • Product training: Educates people on your company’s products or services

  • Leadership/management training: Teaches people leadership skills, whether it’s helping leaders brush up on their skills or upskilling workers to leadership roles

  • Technical training: Helps employees build data literacy and core technical skills and understand the technical aspects of their role

  • Quality assurance training: Teaches employees how to understand quality standards

  • Soft skills training: Helps employees build soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving

  • Teamwork training: Encourages team members to work together and build collaboration skills

  • Diversity training: Aids employees to understand different cultures, races, genders, beliefs, and neurotypes

  • Safety training: Reduces risks of danger by educating employees on safety protocols

  • Upskilling: Teaches employees new skills and competencies to assist their future growth

  • Reskilling: Enables employees to build the skills necessary to switch career paths

Many companies support multiple types of employee training and development. For example, a healthcare organization may have orientation, onboarding, compliance, technical, and safety training. 

This thorough training improves a healthcare organization’s overall employee attrition rate by addressing factors that influence voluntary and involuntary departure, such as career growth, daily work, and medical compliance.

Different employee training methods

There isn’t just one method for designing a training program for employees. Depending on your organizational needs, there are many different ways to build one:

  • In-person training: Training programs happening in-person, either onsite or at a separate training facility

  • Online training: Also known as e-learning, online employee training programs can be taken onsite or remotely

  • Blended learning: This type of training is a combination of the previous two types, with some of the training taking place as online courses and some of it in-person

  • Microlearning: Short training experiences that take 10 minutes or less

One training program for employees may even combine several types of training. For example, an in-person training course can contain online microlearning between courses.

Why are training programs for employees important?

Skills are in high demand, and employees are increasingly difficult to hold onto, so employers need to stay savvy to retain them.

Why employers need to stay savvy to retain employees chart

One study found that 66% of professionals are not planning to stay at their company long-term, and 86% said they would change jobs if offered professional development.

So, more than 20% of employees are planning on staying with their organization long-term but would still leave for career development opportunities.

Development must be a choice in modern-era decision-making, so learning how to build your first employee training program is essential for employers.

Beyond retention, there are even more reasons why employee training programs are important to employers:

  1. Reduce risks from employee errors and improve safety: Training programs for employees reduce risks from compliance-related issues. For example, an employee who doesn't understand GDPR compliance can cause a fine of up to $11m.

  2. Target areas of improvement: Leveraging employee training programs helps strengthen weaknesses, which boosts current performance and prepares employees for new roles.

  3. Improve employee independence: Reduces the need to micromanage by giving employees the specific skills to succeed without intervention, such as teaching an administrative assistant how to use project management software so they can check due dates.

  4. Increase organizational reputation: Career development is essential, and companies that offer it improve their corporate reputation.

  5. Bridge important skill gaps: Workforce skill gaps are important and can be damaging if left unaddressed. Proactively identifying and targeting them is a great strategy, and training programs are an effective fix.

Let’s quickly discuss that last point.

The skills gap in every company is getting wider. Companies need technical skills like data literacy.

Not identifying and addressing these skills gaps holds your company back from advancement, increases costs, and reduces productivity.

The benefits of employee training programs extend to workers but in more ways than the obvious ones, such as increased employee compensation.

Employees’ confidence in their skills grows, making them more productive and happy at work and improving their work-life balance and overall satisfaction.

Further, giving employees the training they want and need shows them you value them, making them feel seen, heard, and appreciated.

The benefits of employee training programs

Knowing how to develop a training program for employees brings a wealth of advantages to your organization.

When employees have the skills to succeed in their role – and a clear path to grow professionally – they have the motivation to stay at your company and excel.

1. Improves retention

Learning and development are non-negotiable for modern employees – they’re an expected addition to a company’s employee benefits package.

To retain your people, you must offer advancement opportunities.

A poll on employee turnover found that 43% of employees cite a lack of growth opportunities as the main reason they quit their previous jobs. 

A separate study found that 63% of employees quit their most recent jobs because of a lack of career growth.

More than half of employees would quit a job solely because of a lack of learning opportunities.

Offering training programs for employees provides your people with the resources they need to grow, which keeps them from applying elsewhere.

2. Stronger employee engagement

Learning and development opportunities connect employees to the company and their role, giving them more motivation and meaning.

They also show employees that their employers care about their progression and skills development.

One study found that a lack of learning opportunities is the number one reason that employees are bored or disengaged. The same study found that 80% of workers believe learning opportunities would increase their engagement.

Employee engagement is a crucial element in every organization. It improves retention, reduces absenteeism, and increases job satisfaction.

For more information, read our full guide on employee engagement.

3. Boosts productivity and effectiveness

Employee training programs supply employees with new skills and provide them with more capability and confidence in their existing skills, leading to fewer mistakes and more efficient work.

For example, let’s say that an employee has trouble optimizing their copywriting for search engines, which leads to a drawn-out process where they struggle to remember the tools and tactics to use. 

After a search engine optimization training course, their optimization speed vastly improves.

Boosting key skills helps employees perform more productively and effectively.

One study compared two corporate groups, where one organization spent almost three times more on employee training than the other. The group that invested more recorded a 57% increase in sales and a 37% rise in gross profit per employee.

The link between employee training programs and productivity and performance is clear.

4. Improves teamwork and collaboration

If employees run through the same structured programs together, they learn the same rules and skills, making their work together flow better.

The right training program for employees also teaches them problem-solving as a group, which improves collaboration because they learn each other’s strengths. 

They intuitively know who’s best at what.

This teamwork practice builds solid working relationships and teaches employees how to listen, share, and recognize other people’s efforts.

Learning to collaborate with colleagues is essential for efficient organizational performance, but it’s more than that. 

Most employees have to spend about 40 hours with each other each week. Enhancing their relationships and teamwork helps improve the entire employee experience.

8 best practices for leveraging employee training programs to retain your best performers

Training programs for employees are a powerful strategy to increase your retention and empower your workforce.

However, there isn’t just one way to do them, and it’s important to do it right.

Here are our top eight strategies for building an effective training program for employees.

How to develop a training program for employees: A summary


What it accomplishes

1. Build an employee training tech stack

Using a variety of software, such as skills tests and learning management systems, enables you to streamline your training

2. Conduct a skills gap analysis

Knowing the skills of your workforce helps inform your training programs

3. Align training with business objectives

Understanding your company’s goals enables you to tailor training programs to target important objectives

4. Include your employees and ask for their opinions

Listening to your employees enables you to design programs that properly engage them and help them retain knowledge

5. Determine and set employee training objectives

Documenting employee goals helps you monitor progress and training efficacy

6. Personalize training programs for a diverse workforce

Recognizing the differences in your workforce helps you build training programs that are more effective for a diverse workforce

7. Monitor and verify skills with talent assessments

Using skills tests throughout the process enables you to measure progress and adjust training as needed

8. Empower training and development programs through an internal talent marketplace

Leveraging an internal talent marketplace helps you match employees to learning opportunities easily

1. Build an employee training tech stack

There are numerous tools on the market to assist professional development, and when you leverage a variety of software, you make employee training programs easier and more effective.

Here are three top categories of technology to consider:

  • Learning management systems (LMS): Programs designed to help you build, structure, and deliver courses

  • Video conferencing software: Software that helps you create asynchronous lessons, which is essential for online training programs for employees

  • Talent assessments: Tests that gauge employee skills, which helps monitor and measure training progress. We discuss this in more detail below.

Whether you’re updating an old one or making a new employee training program, learning and development heavily benefit from a well-thought-out tech stack.

Leveraging the right tools streamlines your lessons, making them approachable for employees and easy for you to manage.

2. Conduct a skills gap analysis

A skills gap analysis enables you to discover which skills are missing in your workforce. 

It evaluates your team to see which skills are necessary for your company but aren’t present, helping you build employee training programs and find likely candidates for upskilling.

For example, your skills gap analysis could show that one of your programmers doesn’t have sufficient skills in one coding language. You can then recommend this person for training, improving your team’s performance and saving you from outsourcing the extra work.

Here’s a quick run-through of a typical skills gap analysis:

  1. Define broad business objectives

  2. Determine short- and long-term business goals

  3. Use talent assessments to measure skills

  4. Identify gaps in your workforce

  5. Create plans to address skills gaps

We recommend you conduct regular skills gap analyses – about once a quarter or twice a year.

A skills gap analysis is an essential business strategy that informs training programs and helps you discover which skills you need to recruit in the near future. 

Hiring the right people is much easier when you fully understand which skills your company needs.

3. Align training with business objectives

We briefly mentioned determining your organizational goals in the previous section, but let’s expand on it because it’s a crucial point.

You must know your company’s strongest objectives and align employee training programs with them.

It’s important to help employees reach their professional goals, but these goals must support the company’s greater business objectives. 

Here are a couple of employee training program examples:

  1. A creative marketing company’s strongest goal is growing its client base, so its training programs prioritize customer acquisition skills

  2. A sales team’s primary goal is to ramp up new hires faster, so it focuses its energy on its onboarding process

Take time to speak to your leaders, determine the company’s primary short- and long-term goals, and align learning and development initiatives with them.

Along with this point, it’s also important to consider what your employees want. Let’s talk about that next.

4. Include your employees and ask for their opinions

Employee training programs are more effective when you design them around the people using them.

Get your team involved and ask them what they want to do and learn.

You can achieve that by leveraging the retention strategy of employee listening. Use surveys to ask your people what they need in a training program or ask them development-related questions during one-on-one meetings.

Here are a few sample questions you can use in surveys or one-on-ones:

  • What would make you feel more confident in your role?

  • Which learning methods work best for you?

  • What do you think would contribute to your team’s success?

You can also ask for their direct upward feedback about current training programs. Ask employees if they’re effective and feel they’re absorbing the material.

You must stay objective and critical throughout this process. Some things your employees may want to do or learn don’t necessarily benefit your business, and you need to know when to say no.

5. Determine and set employee training objectives

Your employees need training goals to help you measure their and your program’s success.

Help your employees define and determine these goals by building professional development plans.

Professional development plans (PDPs) are documents where you document your available resources, employee growth goals, and how you plan to reach them.

It’s important to update an employee’s PDP with their development throughout training. Ask workers about their progress during one-on-one meetings and offer employee coaching wherever possible.

PDPs keep employees focused on their career growth and goals and give you a measurable way to gauge the efficacy of your employee training programs.

6. Personalize training programs for a diverse workforce

An inclusive culture builds a flourishing, diverse workforce. 

However, a diverse workforce has different training needs, and these different people could benefit from various training programs.

We recommend dividing your training programs for different workers and using templates to tailor them to specific requirements.

For example, you can split your training by language so employees can conduct training in their native language.

You can also split learning based on age groups to aid generational diversity. This training can have instructor-led courses for Gen X employees and mobile learning for Gen Z employees.

You can use demographics and employee surveys to discover learning preferences. Still, various employee training tools have algorithms designed to gather information and suggest learning methods.

7. Monitor and verify skills with talent assessments

Talent assessment tests are an objective way to evaluate skills and competencies, and they’re a crucial tool in employee training.

Although they’re useful for recruitment, talent assessments also help you identify, monitor, and verify skills during employee training programs.

First, you use these skills tests during a skills gap analysis to determine the worker’s starting point. Let’s say they score 50% on our Leadership & People Management test and 60% on our Communication test.

sample question of leadership and people management test in TestGorilla

Once training starts, you can use these assessments periodically to monitor employee test scores. These test scores, a part of HR analytics, give you visibility into development.

Maybe the employee’s communication skills are increasing rapidly, but their leadership skills have barely exceeded 50%. 

You can adjust their training by implementing specific employee feedback or providing them with specially tailored training.

8. Empower training and development programs through an internal talent marketplace

An internal talent marketplace is a great way to encourage internal mobility in your organization. 

These systems enable you to advertise learning opportunities and open roles, and they’re also great places for employees to broadcast their goals, skills, and availability.

They’re similar to your company’s own social media platform, like LinkedIn.

Large enterprises sometimes opt to build internal talent marketplaces, but small to midsize companies usually leverage prebuilt platforms.

This software enables you to add internal mobility options, such as mentoring roles, training resources, and open positions.

For our full guide on the subject, read our blog on leveraging an internal talent marketplace.

3 examples of companies succeeding with employee training programs as a talent retention strategy

You now have the tactics to build your own, but first, let’s check out some excellent development programs in real life. 

Here are three companies reaping the benefits of employee training programs.

Companies with successful employee training programs: A summary


Why it’s successful


Supports its people through every stage of development


Leverages an internal talent marketplace to connect employees to new gigs

Panda Restaurant Group

Provides solid opportunities to attract and retain millennials


Randstad, a multinational human resource consulting firm, does a great job supplying its people with training opportunities.

This company provides workers access to “Randstad University,” an internal learning management system with a catalog of courses, including compliance and business acumen.

It also has a rich learning culture with four key steps:

  1. Discover: Lets employees discover strengths and growth opportunities

  2. Explore: Enables employees to experiment with new roles

  3. Prepare: Helps employees document the steps needed to accomplish their goals

  4. Apply: Encourages employees to try out for roles when they’re ready

An example of one of its online employee training programs is the “Challenger Sales Training” program. This seven-week training program comprises virtual workshops, self-guided study, and project-based teamwork.

How do Randstad’s development programs affect its employee turnover rate?

According to its own data, employees who participated in company mentoring programs were 49% less likely to leave, saving the organization $3,000 per participant per year.[2]


Workday, an employee management system company, prioritizes employee development and uses its own technology to discover and cultivate necessary skills.

This company uses a skills-based approach to development, leveraging an internal talent marketplace to connect employees to new gigs. 

The strategy boosts employee development and helps Workday become more agile.

The company conducted a survey to gauge the program's success and saw great results:

  • 95% of gig participants said they were able to build on their existing skills or build new ones

  • 96% of gig hosts said they have better results and efficiency on their teams.[3]

Workday has an impressive employee retention rate of more than 95%.[4] To put it in perspective, the average retention rate for the software industry is barely 85%.[5]

Panda Restaurant Group

Panda Restaurant Group, the parent company of several restaurant chains, is known for its excellent employee training programs.

This company has amazing learning opportunities, supportive leaders, and many training programs.

Learning and development are even a part of its core company values:

  • Healthy lifestyle

  • Continuous learning

  • Developing others

  • Acknowledging others

Panda Restaurant Group’s learning culture has made it one of the best places to work for millennials because a majority of this generation desires career growth.

One of its millennial employees said this about working for Panda Restaurant Group:

“They offer so many resources to develop myself personally and professionally. I feel like part of the Panda family and look forward to staying for many more years.” [6]

One of this company’s more notable learning programs is its online training program to teach English to foreign-born employees. 

Using tools like Rosetta Stone, managers can monitor an employee’s progress and provide coaching where needed.[7]

Build effective employee training programs with talent assessments

Well-built training programs for employees boost retention, performance, and engagement. They also show your workforce that you care about their professional future.

Developing a training program for employees is essential in today’s working world. 

Try a few of our tactics, such as conducting a skills gap analysis, personalizing training courses, and verifying new skills with talent assessments.

If you’re looking for information on a specific type of training, check out our guide on diversity training and look at a few examples of successful diversity training programs.

To read more about talent assessments, browse our library of more than 400 skills tests.


Hire the best candidates with TestGorilla

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

TestGorilla Logo

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Free resources

Anti-cheating checklist

This checklist covers key features you should look for when choosing a skills testing platform

Onboarding checklist

This resource will help you develop an onboarding checklist for new hires.

How to find candidates with strong attention to detail

How to assess your candidates' attention to detail.

How to get HR certified

Learn how to get human resources certified through HRCI or SHRM.

Improve quality of hire

Learn how you can improve the level of talent at your company.

Case study
Case study: How CapitalT reduces hiring bias

Learn how CapitalT reduced hiring bias with online skills assessments.

Resume screening guide

Learn how to make the resume process more efficient and more effective.

Recruiting metrics
Important recruitment metrics

Improve your hiring strategy with these 7 critical recruitment metrics.

Case study
Case study: How Sukhi reduces shortlisting time

Learn how Sukhi decreased time spent reviewing resumes by 83%!

12 pre-employment testing hacks

Hire more efficiently with these hacks that 99% of recruiters aren't using.

The benefits of diversity

Make a business case for diversity and inclusion initiatives with this data.