March 28, 2018
3 Ways to Keep Training Fresh
by Ann Myhr
It is one thing to tell employees how to write a policy or audit a claim, but quite another to have them actually do it.
A quick Google search returns countless articles and resources on the topic of keeping employees engaged in corporate training initiatives. But what about keeping trainers engaged? For trainers, staying fresh on an insurance industry topic they’ve covered in dozens of past sessions is a regular struggle. It’s easy for them to fall into a rut and deliver the same information over and over again with less and less enthusiasm.
In some cases, this perceived monotony can lead to trainers experiencing job burnout, a clinically defined psychological stress in which physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combines with doubts about their competence and the value of their work. Job burnout has three general causes: being overloaded with work, being bored on the job and feeling worn out. It’s the third cause—feeling worn out—that most often affects trainers who are struggling to stay motivated to lead engaging sessions on the same topics for the umpteenth time.
A Bigger Problem in Learning and Development
Learning and development (L&D) pros are actually more susceptible to burnout than individuals in other careers. More often than not, trainers choose their profession because they like working with people and are motivated to improve the lives of the people they train. According to research from Southern Illinois University, this “inherent need to derive a sense of existential significance from their work” makes burnout more likely for trainers who bump up against unsupportive organizations or apathetic training participants.
What’s more, many trainers say their biggest source of stress is the organization’s failure to prioritize training within the structure of the company. It’s worth taking a step back and looking at your training processes on an organizational level. Are L&D pros constantly working to “sell” the value of training to decision makers? Is there a system in place to provide feedback for trainers on the value of the training and what participants have learned from the sessions?
See also: Training Millennials: Just Add Toppings
Learning and development pros know that the challenges of keeping both trainers and trainees engaged are closely linked. Checked-out trainers aren’t going to be very effective at motivating employees to take anything significant away from sessions, and they may actually help to spread the feeling of burnout throughout the organization.
Unfortunately for trainers, there’s often not much that can be done about the material that has to be covered in sessions. New employees are always going to need training on fundamental insurance industry topics, from general risk management principles and basic sales techniques to function-specific training, such as underwriting fundamentals. But there are ways to put a fresh spin on the information, which can renew trainers’ interest in the subject and provide a better training experience for employees. Let’s take a closer look at three ways to rejuvenate training for trainers and trainees, even if it’s the trainer’s 20th time presenting the material.
1. Solve a Real-Life Problem
It is one thing to tell employees how to write a policy or audit a claim, but quite another to have them actually do it. Trainers can breathe new life into sessions by creating a more real-life scenario that participants have to discuss and solve after they have a basic understanding of the principles at work. The session then becomes an interactive problem-solving exercise rather than a PowerPoint lecture that’s mundane for everyone involved. Developing the materials may be a bit more time-consuming, and employees may have to do some preparation on their own time, but there’s a better chance employees will remember and use the training on the job. This strategy, sometimes referred to as flipped classroom training, also makes better use of the trainer’s expertise as a subject matter expert rather than a talking head delivering content.
2. Tap a Guest Speaker’s Expertise
Getting a fresh perspective is an effective way to rejuvenate the training process. If you’re leading a training session on adjusting claims, bring in a field adjuster to speak for a portion of the session. Collaborating with the guest speaker will invigorate the trainer, and the overall material will probably be more beneficial for employees.
If guest speakers are not an option and trainers must be exclusively from the training department, consider swapping training assignments with another L&D pro. Assuming you both have the necessary knowledge to lead different sessions, it’s another opportunity to switch things up and get a fresh perspective on the various kinds of training your organization provides.
3. Conduct Follow-Up Training
About 90% of new on-the-job skills are lost within a year, according to The Wall Street Journal. This means employees aren’t hanging on to crucial skills that could benefit their organizations. And this skill loss doesn’t help keep trainers motivated and engaged. Making time for follow-up training allows for that personal connection that trainers value so much. They can hear from training participants, “This is how I’m using what you taught me, and this is what I still need to learn.”
Follow-up training provides built-in feedback for trainers who are eager to improve their skills and more effectively educate employees. It’s a useful resource to help trainers hone their presentations and techniques, even after they’ve led a session on the same topic dozens of times.