Corporate training has risen in the past three years, with corporations spending more than $70 billion in the Unites States, according to Additionally, training expenditures have risen to more than $130 billion, worldwide. The reasons are due to the economic recovery, as well as how companies are discovering large gaps in the skills of their employees now that the fog of the recession has cleared.

Although most corporations understand the need for ongoing training, many companies have trouble getting their workers to get excited about it. This is because workers often view training sessions as either a waste of time or just more work piled on their desks. If you consistently receive unenthusiastic responses when you inform your employees about an upcoming in-house training program, here are three highly-effective ways to make training more engaging and worthwhile in your workplace.

1. Starting with the Fun Factor

First and foremost, training should be fun, interesting and engaging. Many employees hear the word, “training,” and they immediately think of long, dull presentations that take up hours of their time and give them very little to use in their everyday duties.

Spice things up a bit by using a variety of tools. Thanks to technology, there are many at your disposal. Find some engaging training videos, plan some discussions around interesting issues, work in some role play, set up a quiz or plan a debate.

Find the best training materials you can afford for training, because they are the tools that will spark interest in your employees. To find the best in-house training materials, ask colleagues and managers, and look online for reviews. Search for training programs tailored to your specific industry or field.

2. Targeting to Employee Roles and Responsibilities

One of the easiest ways to turn your employees off your training before even starting is to fail to target it to them effectively. Quite simply, if your employees don’t need the training, they won’t be interested in it, and you’ll just waste their time – and yours. As a busy employee, you don’t want to spend your time training for something that will not help your employees in the slightest.

Aim training at individual employees to provide them with skills they can use in their jobs. If everyone does the same generic training it will reduce motivation, and it could even generate resentment among experienced employees. For some great ideas, talk to your employees and ask them what types of training would help make their jobs easier and more productive. Your team probably has a much better idea how they can improve their work processes or productivity in order to tap into their full potential.

Break it down by department, workgroup, project or team to focus on specific training that will improve the quality of the work environment, as well as the finished product of your worker’s efforts. When employees know you care about training them to make their jobs better, they feel better about their jobs, which motivate them to engage and work harder.

When you finish a training program, provide an anonymous survey to participants to fill out to check for effectiveness. You can ask for suggestions on ways to improve the training so you can fill in any missing areas the next round.

3. Recognizing and Rewarding Participants

A simple way to motivate your staff for their training sessions is to provide them with some form of recognition after they complete their training. This could involve something as simple as a certificate, but it could also be an increase in wages or a promotion. You could also give prizes for the workers who got the best overall scores. Whatever you decide, try not to make money the only motivation for attendance. Let your employees know exactly what you want them to get from their training, and how they can use what they learn to make their jobs easier and more productive.

If your employees know they will get rewarded for completing the training, it encourages them to want to do it more. They know it has some value and will not be a complete waste of time because you endorse and believe in it, too. This will only work, however, if the above two points are already covered. If you fail to make the training fun and targeted, no amount of recognition will make your employees look forward to the training in the first place.

A Creative Example

The best on-site training programs pay off tenfold when employees can put their training to practical use each day in the workplace. Here is an example illustrating a training program at New York Presbyterian Hospital that utilized all three of the above tips to create an extraordinary and highly-effective training program:

  • Fun Factor – A top-notch hospital is like a winning baseball team because both require the best players combined with great coaching, so the hospital produced “Your Playbook for Creating a Grand Slam Patient Experience,” a concept to capitalize on the fact they have a baseball field next door and are the official hospital of the New York Yankees.
  • Target to Employees – They put together a team of “all-stars” to provide their best plays for home runs: The most positive patient experience possible, and then they conducted “Spring Training” based on their playbook. They based the sessions around nine “knock out plays,” including listening, reflecting and empathy, according to the nine innings in a baseball game.
  • Recognition and Rewards – They extended their training by initiating the “Play of the Week, in recognition of service well done by specific individuals, and to continue the training and growth well after the initial spring training sessions. They also have an ongoing recognition program in place, “Most Valuable Players.”

The results are that more than 60 percent of the staff can cite the “Play of the Week” and give an example of how they’ve used a play in recent days. Weekly patient comments reflect the nine plays taught in Spring Training, and since initiating the playbook, the hospital has witnessed upward trends in the 2012 Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results, where “Responsiveness of Staff” increased to 60 points, up 14.6 percent from 2011, and “Overall Rating of Hospital” went up to 77 points, a whopping 18 percent jump from 2011.