Employee training manuals have been a mainstay in learning and development since the conception of organizational training. Despite their prominence in the world of L&D, employee training manuals are often neglected—they are commonly the last items to be updated, refreshed, and promoted. As your team settles into 2022, we suggest looking at your employee training manuals to ensure they are the most effective solution for your learners. By creating more meaningful training manual experiences for your employees, your organization can simultaneously improve workplace culture and make learning a part of work.
What exactly is an employee training manual?
A training manual is a technical document that provides detailed and pertinent information to employees on how to complete specific tasks, use services or products, or execute processes. Training manuals are broad and can cover a variety of content throughout your organization, but they are particularly useful for new hires or in a time when new process or technology is being implemented. While most training manuals target specific skills and knowledge, they can also provide employees with best practices and helpful reminders on process and compliance. Furthermore, some organizations also choose to create training manuals are that external—that is, manuals that are designed to inform their clients and customers on their products, services, etc. (think of companies that create free resources for their customers to use when they have questions about how to use their product).
Training manual best use cases
- Employee onboarding. All new hires can benefit from an informative and accessible training manual.
- Performance support. Every organization can leverage resources that help employees find answers quickly and in a time of need.
- Customer onboarding/time-of-need resources. Many organizations choose to provide educational material for their customers, often in the form of training manuals.
- New process or product rollout. Utilizing training manuals to rollout new software and processes in your organization can streamline employee learning.
Why should organizations leverage training manuals?
Training manuals are particularly effective because they are a familiar and comfortable learning format for nearly all learners. Training manuals are able to quickly and effectively educate employees, and can be used as a resource for post-training needs. Underprepared and under supported employees will be less effective in the workplace, and training manuals are some of the most effective ways to transfer large amounts of content and educational material to learners. Furthermore, the simplicity of training manuals often means they have a low cost to maintain and support, meaning you can put more money into other areas of business that need attention. In a business landscape where money and time are at a premium, low cost is one of the most appealing factors of creating employee training manuals.
Creating an effective, engaging employee training manual
With thousands of organizations choosing to transition work to remote and virtual environments, many printed employee training manuals have become obsolete. Thousands of businesses moved to virtual work without a plan in place to convert employee education programs to accessible formats, meaning many are finding themselves starting over in 2022. If your organization is in this situation, there are a few concrete steps you can take to ensure employees are provided with the information they need to succeed, whether they are new or veteran employees.
Conduct a training needs assessment. We recommend conducting a training needs assessment for all L&D projects, and developing a new employee training manual is no different. Employees have much different needs now than they did before the transition to remote work, and it is crucial that you have a strong understanding of their needs before you begin to develop content and material for a new training manual. For more information on how and why you should conduct a training needs assessment, check out this article we wrote on the topic.
Leverage modern L&D strategies and tools. When creating a new training manual, your organization has the opportunity to leverage many new L&D strategies and tools that have recently become available. Manuals no longer have to be large, unbroken groups of text—they can now use blended learning and AI to maximize learning experience. Furthermore, implementing training manuals in a virtual environment can help you scale quickly, allowing you to create learning experiences more efficiently and effectively.
Training manuals and employee engagement
We’ve said this time and again, but training program success often comes down to how effectively you can engage your employees. If learners are distracted, bored, or do not have easy access to training manuals, not only will the learning be less effective, but it will also create an environment in which employees are dissatisfied. When it comes to engagement, the most important parts of your training manual are the content and the context. Let’s briefly go over what each of those mean and how they can be improved.
Training content. Focus on creating training content that is digestible and concise. The time of large, unbroken chunks of text is over, and learners require content to be pertinent to very specific tasks and skills. Furthermore, the modern learner will benefit from a training manual that uses a variety of different media for content, from text to images and videos.
Training context. Training context deals primarily with when and where employees are learning. In learning and development, we strive to create learning experiences that do not interfere with employee work and allow learners to learn when they are most able. Creating an employee manual that has an easy-to-use table of content with hyperlinks to specific areas of text will allow learners to find what they are looking for quickly and get back to their work. Furthermore, creating a manual that is available online or in an accessible (yet secure) virtual location will allow learners to find exactly what they need quickly, reducing stress, confusion, and time spent on finding resources.
When creating your next training manual, consider breaking the obsolescent mold of boring, flat content on endless pages. Developing a solution that is engaging and effective will not only give your organization better results, but will show your employees that their time and development are both valuable to your organization. Remember, your training programs are only as effective as they are engaging, so prioritize creating meaningful experiences for learners, and maximize learning outcomes by conducting a training needs assessment before developing an employee training manual.