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Signs It Is Time to Update Your Employee Training Materials

August 28, 2018 • digitalmedia • Business AdviceComments Off on Signs It Is Time to Update Your Employee Training Materials

Are you able to tell when your training materials have lost effectiveness?

As excellent as your training materials may have been at their inception, many factors can lead to decreased quality and clarity. Time, brand development, staff or leadership changes, industry evolution, or shifts in technology may all leave you with training materials that not only look dated but also are not producing top-notch, on-brand training outcomes.

A slouching training packet or online program can be difficult to detect. Long-term use, for example, can lead you to take your materials’ effectiveness for granted. In these situations, it is easy to simply “plug and play,” sending the same materials to employees over the years and always focusing on the results rather than the process. Training materials that have lost their effectiveness frequently slip right under the radar.

You want your employees to be met with the right kinds of challenges and opportunities that lead to growth and further training. Whether you depend on print, online resources, or both, these important signs may indicate it’s time to update your training materials.

Updating Your Employee Training Materials

1 – Employees complain

You’d be hard pressed to find a clearer sign than an unhappy employee. Complaints are often verbal or written, and if you’re looking for this kind of feedback, it’s wise to request it on training packets and modules in order to gather such complaints in a helpful, organized fashion. Employees also feel heard and respected when asked to be honest about a required class or training session.

Not all complaints are spoken aloud or offered freely, however, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Quiet compliance doesn’t equal a fruitful, productive experience. What kind of response in body language or office atmosphere do you notice when it’s time for employees to complete required trainings? If employees appear tense, frustrated, annoyed, flippant or prone to procrastination, there may be a serious problem with your training materials.

Listen to employee complaints. Effective leadership cultivates internal motivation in employees when it does away with outmoded, ineffective, or undesirable systems. Simply put, if employees don’t like training materials, then your training materials are not doing their job. Ask employees for further feedback on what needs improvement, and they may offer valuable, actionable insights. Needed changes could vary widely, from creating a more organized layout, to changing required completion time, to training on a topic of their choosing, to altering color schemes, fonts, or images.

To further open lines of communication, consider providing a communal space on social media or another online forum. Here, employees can be free to collaborate on training modules, bring up issues, ask questions, and vent to one another.

2 – Things don’t change

Just as bad as a negative response to your training materials is a neutral response. When results do not change between pre-assessment and final assessments, you are not seeing improvement, and therefore your training materials are not leading to growth. Additionally, you may notice a lack of enthusiasm or interest in the training materials. This could be a sign that your training materials have just become another box to check, rather than an opportunity for engagement.

In order to be truly helpful, materials need to be dynamic and strike a chord with employees. The modules, programs, and materials themselves need to be visually and orally engaging, and they need to speak to corporate people at all times on a highly professional level. The purpose of training is to challenge, not to bore.

Never allow training materials to waste employees’ time or “talk down” to them. A program that is simply outdated or begins to appear “cheesy” can be interpreted as talking down to employees, since the approach lacks intention and care. Any training materials that are too lengthy, complex, or frustrating — especially if they do not pack a punch with new information, stimulating materials, or critical thinking — can begin to feel pointless.

Test results become dynamic when training materials add new meaning, perspective, or skills to employees’ work.

3 – Content doesn’t hit the ground

Employee training materials must have an obvious real-world application. Go through your current training materials, take the assessments yourself, and ask, “How is this helping employees do their job better and grow professionally in today’s market? Does it help me?” Be honest.

Content hits the ground when it meets a felt need. It will provide training on a topic that helps employees:


  • Address deficiencies
  • Engage new habits
  • Gain an edge
  • Understand a difficult issue
  • Think more critically
  • Get a foothold in a challenging area
  • Work together more effectively
  • Become leaders


Interactive materials such as webinars and eLearning blogs are excellent resources for keeping employees engaged and your content relevant. By personalizing and providing options, you may also increase engagement. This can be achieved through course maps, saving and returning to modules at a later time, and using training materials branded to your company culture. Simulations and case studies require creative and critical thinking, and they provide vital real-world applications.

Finally, to be interactive and personal means you must show a human side. This may include leniency with completion times, encouragement to collaborate on case studies, or the injection of some warmth or humor into the program.

Employees who are constantly learning and growing are engaged and thus more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. In addition, these kinds of employees are growing with you, adding value to their careers as well as to your business. Don’t underestimate the value of updated training materials.

Fontis Solutions wants to be your source for HR and marketing answers. We improve employee training by providing engaging, on-brand results, from multimedia packets to training videos. Contact us today.

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