“Learning experiences are like journeys. The journey starts where the learning is now, and ends when the learner is successful. The end of the journey isn’t knowing more, it’s doing more.” — Julie Dirksen
Selecting training that address the current needs of your workforce can be challenging in deciding what is right for your employees. For a robust public health training workforce, learning must be responsive to community and systems challenges, as well as addressing individual competencies. Here are some best practices when choosing what training is best for your local health department.
Before you even start the training process, several components should be identified in order to help determine the training needs of your local health department.
Understand Your Team
Identify knowledge, skills, and abilities employees need to know individually and as an organization. Break these into steps, sometimes it’s helpful if you make these tasks and steps as concrete as possible.
Identify the best person to complete the training: Not everyone can be trained for every skill. Choose the best person(s) for what you are wanting to accomplish.
Identify different learning approaches for the best chance of success. Not everyone learns the same way, take the training method into consideration before selecting if it is the right method for your employees.
Common Training Methods
There are a variety of training methods used in an organizational setting. We will just highlight some of the most common methods.
Face to Face (Classroom-Based) Training is led by a qualified facilitator. Learning takes place over one or more days in a physical venue on or off-site. Groups of employees go through a series of presentation slides and activities. Advantage: can train lots of people at one time. Disadvantage: Can be costly and employees can find this approach boring.
On-the-job Training is when employees are actively involved in learning. Employees are participating in real activities that relate to their current or future job. Advantage: one of the most effective training methods. Disadvantage: Can be stressful for employees and time-consuming.
Social Learning is defined as learning from others by observing, imitating, and modeling their behavior. Advantage: can be very effective in acquiring new perspectives and problem-solving skills. Disadvantage: it’s not as easy to structure, measure, and control.
Online Training is one of the most widely used ways to train employees. Online training includes eLearning courses, webinars, videos, microlearning, etc. Advantage: allows information to be presented and tested in many different ways, employees can learn according to their style and immediate needs. Disadvantage: initial investment costs can be high for LMS or to develop online training.
Choosing the training
Here are three things to consider when choosing a training:
What is the purpose of the training? Look at the learning objectives and the delivery methods. For example, classroom-based training might be effective for delivering information about company employee relations policies. However, this same method won’t be effective in educating managers on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace.
Who is the intended audience? Training is most effective when the target audience understands and believes in the benefits of the training program. Factors to consider should include demographics, nature of the job, level of seniority, and whether or not learning will take place in a group or per individual.
What are the constraints? Often there is an indirect and direct cost with training, be sure to factor into consideration what those are.
It is important to evaluate the training. Evaluation allows you to determine if the training will meet the intended goals you set out and/or will it be beneficial to your employees. Here are some things to consider when evaluating training opportunities:
Identify the key details about the training such as:
Explanation of what will be offered in the training and length of training
Type of training (online, in-person, etc…)
Competencies addressed (if listed)
Learning Objectives support the knowledge and skills acquisition
Learning objectives are SMART (learner-centric, smart, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound)
Objectives focus on skill development using application, analysis, or evaluation-level verbs
Information about the training or content should include:
Training explicitly states that the content was reviewed by, or is delivered by, a subject matter expert with appropriate qualifications.
Research or developments that impact the content of the training are recent (published within the past 5 years) of current date.
Training facilitates the application of knowledge and skills.
Training includes learning assessment opportunities.
Check for understanding: It’s not enough to just offer the information and hope it sticks. Check employee understanding after training by tailoring employee assignments to the training they received. This helps you to know if employees feel confident in what they have learned or if they need more information.
Evaluate the learning: did the training meet the goals you set out for your employees, did it increase their level of knowledge, skills, and abilities? Are there ways you can improve it for the future?
TRAIN Learning Network: The TRAIN Learning Network is the trusted leader in providing training and other learning opportunities to public health, healthcare, behavioral health, preparedness, and other health professionals.
Public Health Learning Navigator: The Learning Navigator is a streamlined, curated online resource supporting quality learning for the public health workforce.
NNPHI Network Engagement Directory: provides a list of institutes and training centers that actively providing training for public health workforce
Training-Source: is a comprehensive, open catalog of online training for the Public Health workforce, and many disciplines that work with Public Health.