Different types of employee training and delivery methods

February 14, 2018 - Rasool Somji

Organizations can use many different types of training and delivery methods to engage their employees. The training methods depend on the resources available for employee training, the type of company and the emphasis that company places on training.

Studies have shown that when effective training takes place, a company not only decreases its turnover rate, but employees also perform better in their roles.

In this article, we discuss common methods of delivery and training types. Decide which are most suitable to your organization and then ensure employees can access the required training for their roles.

Methods to deliver employee training

Coaching and mentoring

This type of employee training focuses on the relationship between an employee and someone more experienced, such as their manager, a coach, or long time employee.

Mentoring can help build relationships and connect people within the organization, as well as create growth opportunities for employees.

Organizations that use mentors have seen employee retention increase and employee turnover reduce, ultimately improving the organisations bottom line.

However, mentorship programs require your most high-performing people to step away from their primary roles to grow newer team members. While that will pay off in the long run, consider whether you’re willing to make that trade-off.

Coaching on the other hand involves bringing in a trained professional. Coaches can sometimes provide a more time-efficient alternative, but without the relationship building.

E-learning / online learning

E-learning uses online videos, articles, quizzes and courses to deliver employee training. Employees can do their training at any time, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

A common issue with online learning is low retention rate. The addition of gamification can go a long way towards overcoming this and keeping your employees engaged with the learning material.

Man learning at home on laptop

E-learning is widely adopted by modern employers - a study in 2015 found that 77% of American companies offer some kind of online training as a professional development tool. That percentage will be much higher now.

Many companies choose e-learning courses because they easily scale. One person or 1000 people can take the same online course at one time, starting and stopping at their own pace. This helps empower a range of learners as people who want to take their time and dive deeper have the freedom to do so, while quick learners who are more easily bored can move through course rapidly.

According to a 2018 Training Industry Report, 25.6 percent of employee training hours were delivered solely via online or computer-based technologies. There was also a huge increase in blended learning hours (combining instructor-led with e-learning).

Online training is very beneficial to remote workers, who may otherwise be overlooked for training opportunities.

Popular e-learning providers:

  • Pluralsight (technical skills)
  • Coursera
  • LinkedIn Learning (Lynda)
  • VirtualSpeech (soft skills)
  • Udacity (technical skills)
  • Skillsoft
  • Skillshare

Virtual reality training

Despite the initial hardware costs, VR training has proven highly effective for training employees in high risk situations and soft skills training. VR is already being used to train doctors, pilots and construction workers – it also allows employees to train for soft skill scenarios which are difficult to practice in real life, such as speaking at a press conference or giving feedback to an employee.

VirtualSpeech is an example of a company who provide soft skills training in VR.

VR training allows employees to practice a range of situations from anywhere in the world and repeat the training as often as they need to, so that they are more prepared for that situation in the real world.

VR training in engineering

Example training which can benefit from VR:

  • Performing a medical operation
  • Giving a presentation at a conference
  • Media training - being ambushed by journalists
  • Operating a crane of forklift truck
  • Flying a small aircraft
  • Interviewing a candidate for a job
  • Delivering a sales pitch to a client
  • Fire extinguisher training

Read our whitepaper on the benefits of training in VR.

Instructor-led training / in-person training

Instructor-led training is the traditional type of employee training that occurs in a classroom environment, with a trainer presenting the material to a group of people.

This type of training can be highly effective:

  • Instructors can answer specific employee questions or direct them to further resources
  • Highly-skilled instructors can be picked to match the training level of the employees
  • Complex topics can be explained in multiple ways until the employees understand

However, instructor-led training does have some drawbacks, including cost, time away from the office and time to implement. Classroom training is also hard to scale to hundreds of employees, all of whom need to find time in their schedule to attend the training session.

Instructor-led training session

In addition, employees can’t learn at their own pace and it’s easy for them to not fully commit to the training (there are rarely quizzes at the end of the training to grade employees on the training session).

Classroom-style training is the most traditional training method, used exclusively or mostly by 9% of organizations.

Hands-on training

Hands-on training is a great training method for employees using machinery or software, where they can learn through on the job experience. Hands-on training can help employees fit into their upcoming or current role, while enhancing their on the job skills.

This is a time-intensive method of employee training that’s best used when there are enough resources (spare equipment, software licenses, etc.) available to support employees during the training.

Types of training for employees


Orientation is a common type of employee training. It’s a one-time event welcoming new hires to the company within their first week on the job. This training tends to be relevant to all company-wide roles and departments.

Orientation training is usually prepared by HR on core topics such as:

  • Company mission, vision, and values
  • Administrative procedures (computer logins, email setups, etc.)
  • Corporate culture
  • Key corporate policies
  • Organizational structure and leadership team


Onboarding training is a series of team-specific sessions that take place over several weeks or months. The aim of the training is to bring new employees up to speed in the shortest period of time. Effective onboarding training will also free up management time because most answers to questions would be available within the training.

Onboarding training is prepared by team or departmental leaders with a focus of reaching departmental goals and connecting them with overall company objectives.

Technical skills development

Technical skills can always be improved and refined, particular with the rapid pace of change the tech industry is going through. Technical skills covers a range of topic, including mobile app development, creating databases for your website, securing against hackers, automating processes, etc.

Technical skills development

Technical skills training is fundamental because it’s the main way your employees will learn how to technically do their jobs correctly. Employees need to engage in ongoing learning on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with the latest technology developments.

Companies such as Pluralsight allow employees to take a quiz to gauge their level of competence across relevant technical skills. Employees can then take courses to plug any gaps in their knowledge required to do their job properly.

Soft skills training

Soft skills are personal attributes, typically linked to how you work and interact with others, which are necessary for company success and employee career development. Soft skills enable employees to interact effectively with other people in the workplace, including co-workers, management, clients and customers.

Research has supported the idea that soft skills development increases ROI, for example, in a study conducted by Harvard University, Boston College and the University of Michigan, it was found that soft skills training:

  • Increased productivity by 12%
  • Increased employee retention
  • Delivered a 256% ROI

Topics to cover in your soft skills training include:

  • Communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem-solving and decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership skills
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Negotiating
  • Time management
  • Teamwork

Read our article on Soft skills training: Upskill your employees and increase ROI

Products and services training

Product trainings can either be a part of onboarding for new employees or can be available for any who need refreshers on the products and services the organization offers. This type of training can also be used to educate staff on newly introduced products, services or features, so they are always up to date.

Examples of this type of employee training include:

  • A new P&G employee working on the Gillette brand, being given a training session on it’s history, competitors, brand positioning, etc.
  • An engineer being trained on a new CAD software package the company has purchased
  • Marketing team learning about a new vehicle the company will launch in a few months

Mandatory training

Depending on where your company is located and the industry it operates in, certain employee training regulations may apply. Common examples of mandatory training include:

  • Equality, diversity and human rights
  • Fire safety awareness training
  • Sexual harassment training
  • Safety in the workplace / worksite (common in construction and manufacturing industries)
  • Ethics training (for example, how to deal with a bribe, who you should report it to etc.)