5 Examples of Employee Training and Development Programs

How to make your training and development programs stand out from the pack? Learn from the top companies with innovative learning and development programs! Discover how L&D programs look like in Amazon, AT&T, SAS, Etsy and Pilot Flying J.


Great training and development program: A key differentiator for your employer brand!

When it comes to HR benefits, employee training and development programs always rank among the most wanted employee benefits. Many of today’s top performers have aspirations beyond their current role. If they aren’t given a chance to learn and advance, they are nearly guaranteed to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Changing job trend 2020

Additionally, learning and development (L&D) is a crucial component for cultivating positive company culture. It puts the employee first, making personal growth and innovation a priority. With the right options, a company can showcase its commitment to its workforce.

Many companies with standout employee training and development programs are able to assert themselves as leaders in the niche. This helps with recruiting and employee retention

Importance of employee training

If you are wondering what leading companies do with their training and development programs to stand out from the pack, you’ve come to the right place!

5 top-notch examples of employee training and development programs

In many cases, the idea of developing an L&D program from scratch is daunting. Luckily, you can use industry leaders as a guide, following their example to create a robust solution that aligns with your company’s specific needs.

If you’re not  sure where to begin, here are five examples of companies that are genuinely leading the pack  with their top-notch employee training and development programs:

  1. Amazon
  2. AT&T
  3. SAS
  4. Etsy
  5. Pilot Flying J

Top 5 companies with great training and development programs

L&D example #1: Amazon

At Amazon, the onboarding process includes extensive training. Every new hire takes part in a month-long journey, allowing the workers to acclimate to the company, build confidence, and enhance their capabilities.

In 2012,  Amazon launched the Career Choice program, providing hourly employees with access to educational benefits after being a part of the company for as little as one year. Career Choice offers tuition and fee coverage and textbook reimbursement rates of up to 95% . Participants can access up to $12,000 while earning a certificate or associate degree, as long as they are taking courses in in-demand niches.

In 2019,  Amazon vowed to invest in its employees, committing over  $700 million to retrain 100,000 team members. The goal was to upskill members of its workforce, providing nontechnical workers with access to technical skills training. For example, the Amazon Technical Academy allows employees to build their capabilities and transition into software engineering careers.

The programs create a win-win, empowering employees to pursue their professional dreams while allowing the retail giant to close skill gaps. Along with creating advancement opportunities internally, participants are also earning certifications that they can carry with them, increasing their value if they seek out positions elsewhere. 

L&D example #2: AT&T

AT&T offers employees access to development opportunities in two ways. First, the company has a robust tuition assistance program, making college more affordable for its workforce. Second, it has internal employee training and development programs, giving workers the ability to upgrade their skill set and potentially advance.

At AT&T University, employees can participate in an executive-led training program focusing on subjects like management and leadership. Along with offering in-person learning opportunities, the telecom giant also partnered with Udacity to create online, self-paced coursework, allowing their workforce access to non-degree programs in subjects like data analytics and mobile development that can fast-track their careers.

But the company also has another feather in its educational cap.  In partnership with Georgia Tech and Udacity, AT&T assisted in the creation of the first online Master of Science in Computer Science degree. This benefits not only employees but also anyone else looking for an online option for advancing their tech career. 

L&D example #3: SAS

A world-renowned leader in the business analytics solutions space that is frequently included in “best places to work lists around the globe, SAS shines when it comes to L&D opportunities. Its internships focus on supporting professional growth, preparing college students for what will become the next phase in their life. It combines formal learning with on-the-job training and experience, creating a well-rounded approach to educating the next generation.

Additionally, SAS offers a range of entry-level programs. Through it’s paid “academy roles,” the company helps new graduates transition into the workforce. Through the Sales, Customer Advisory, Technical Enablement, and Marketing Rotational programs, newly-minted professionals can hone their capabilities at the company’s headquarters, ensuring they have the tools they need to thrive.

Along with the options above, employees have access to a program that was designed specifically to support emerging leaders. The goal of that service is to cultivate talent that can rise into the management ranks, boosting the careers of their team while creating their own avenue for reliable succession planning.

However, the company doesn’t stop there. Through the SAS Academics program, newly minted sales and technical professionals, typically those just leaving college, get a thorough onboarding and preparation experience. Each of the hires gains access to on-the-job training and classroom sessions, ensuring they have the skills they need to succeed before formally moving into their permanent roles.

L&D example #4: Etsy

Etsy focuses on using a well-rounded approach to employee training and development. The offerings combine proven methodologies, including organizational psychology, adult learning theory, and sociology. Along with traditional learning opportunities, employees have access to coaching and retreats as well as online resources.

At Etsy, employees aren’t just learners, but teachers as well. Through “Etsy School,” participants can learn about a variety of topics, including options focused on hard and soft skill development. Along the way, those who teach also enhance critical skills, including organization, leadership, and perseverance.

Additionally, the Etsy L&D team makes choosing a path easier. They work with employees to identify options that can take their career in their desired direction, paving pathways for growth and advancement.

L&D example #5: Pilot Flying J

At Pilot Flying J, helping workers achieve their goal of getting into management is a priority in their employee training and development programs. Through its management training, participants work with top leaders, learning about everything from the nuances of the POS system to the reading of financial reports.

Once the initial program is over,  participants still get support and development opportunities. After being assigned to a location, training is ongoing, ensuring they can acquire new skills, adapt to changes in the organization, and prepare for incoming technologies.

Additionally, full-time employees can gain access to a tuition reimbursement plan. Through this program, team members can tap up to $18,000 to assist with critical educational expenses.

Shaping your company’s learning and development strategy

The examples above have many aspects in common. First, they don’t just address technical capability, but essential soft skills as well. Leadership, teamwork, communication, and many other soft skills are vital for your workforce to flourish. Make sure to include them in your training and development program.

Additionally, cramming training into a short amount of time isn’t the norm. Many of the examples above are extensive - designed to be completed in weeks or months, not days. Plus, continuous learning is actually the core objective for most of the companies. A key component that’s certainly worth adopting.

Finally, personalization plays a role in the majority of L&D programs. Employees can choose career paths to pursue, giving them access to relevant coursework. It isn’t about forcing everyone into the same educational box. Adaptation, flexibility, and customization are all facets of the experience. This makes training a valuable benefit in the eyes of the workers while simultaneously benefitting the organization.

Key takeaway: 5 tips for creating a great training and development program

The companies above have used creativity and innovation to build their training and development programs. Let’s explore some actionable tips they’ve used so you can create your own.

Employee training and development programs tips

Tip #1: Provide continual self-paced skills training

Many companies provide employees with internal, self-paced, online learning options. This allows employees the freedom and autonomy to drive their own careers, learning the skills and knowledge that is both valuable to them as individuals, and the company at large.

Tip #2: Consider offering tuition assistance

Offering education benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, is a great way to boost employee retention, improve talent acquisition, and improve brand equity. Especially for companies where employee turnover is high, such as retail and restaurants, tuition assistance can help improve retention and lower future training costs.

Tip #3: Create an internship program

When designed correctly, internship programs can serve as a streamlined talent funnel for your organization. Many successful internship programs consider the entire career entry journey – from college, integrating into the workforce.

Tip #4: Peer-to-peer teaching

We learn best from our peers. Consider creating a training and development program where employees teach other employees. Not only does this help with skill attainment, but it also provides a brilliant opportunity for younger employees to understand your company values and culture on a deeper level.

Tip #5: Provide opportunities to engage with top leaders

High-performing employees are always looking for opportunities to interact and learn from leaders. Although you must be sensitive to your top leader’s time, these experiences are monumental for employee personal and career development. What’s the ROI for management? They get the highest motivated people skilled up and ready to take on leadership roles.

Why do you need an employee training and development program?

Employee training and development programs are vital for any organization. While many companies view them as an expense, they are actually an opportunity. With an L&D strategy in place, you can empower your organization, create avenues for closing skill gaps, and enhance the capabilities of your workforce.

According to an estimate by the  Centre for Economic Research, skill gaps cost American companies $160 billion annually. The problem is so pervasive that 80% of Americans feel their country is facing a skill gap.

Skill gap statistic

With 35% stating they are impacted by it personally. Plus, 40% believe that changing skill requirements will have a substantial effect on their job. Company-provided training is an opportunity to address these issues. 

With a customized L&D program, you can provide access to coursework designed specifically to boost your workforce’s capabilities in particular areas. L&D provides an internal solution to a long-standing challenge, one that can separate your business from the competition.

But closing skill gaps and elevating your workforce aren’t the only reasons you need an employee training and development program. It’s also critical for recruitment and retention. According to a Udemy survey, 42% of Millennials stated that L&D is the most important benefits companies can offer.

Additionally, according to a report by Randstad 43% of professionals cite limited career paths as a primary reason for leaving a position. Among higher educated professionals, 47% would seek out and pursue a better opportunity if there weren’t clear pathways for advancement.

Key reason for leaving a job statistic

With a thoughtfully designed training and development program, your company is addressing that desire – to help employees advance their careers to the next level. Providing a training and development benefit, you bolster loyalty and engagement, improving both recruitment and retention as well as positioning your company as an employer of choice. Invest in the future of your employees. And they will love you forever. 

About the author

Andrew DeBell is a training consultant and digital marketing strategist at Water Bear Learning.  He helps companies develop fresh, creative, well-designed learning programs, infusing marketing principles into each step of the design process. You can connect with him on Linkedin to learn more.

Frequently asked questions

What Are Some Notable Examples of Employee Training and Development Programs? 

Notable examples of employee training and development programs include Amazon's Career Choice program, AT&T's partnership with Udacity and Georgia Tech for online learning, SAS's focus on internships and entry-level programs, Etsy's use of organizational psychology in training, and Pilot Flying J's management training and tuition reimbursement plan.

How Does Amazon's Career Choice Program Benefit Employees? 

Amazon's Career Choice program benefits employees by offering tuition and fee coverage, including textbook reimbursement rates of up to 95%. This program, which is available to hourly employees after one year with the company, covers up to $12,000 for earning certificates or associate degrees in in-demand fields.

What Unique Approach Does Etsy Take in Employee Development? 

Etsy takes a unique approach in employee development by combining organizational psychology, adult learning theory, and sociology. They also offer "Etsy School," where employees can both teach and learn a variety of topics, enhancing their hard and soft skills.

How Does Pilot Flying J's Training Program Support Management Aspirations? 

Pilot Flying J's training program supports employees' aspirations to enter management by providing extensive training with top leaders, covering various aspects of business operations. After initial training, ongoing development opportunities help employees adapt to changes and prepare for future technologies.

Why are Training and Development Programs Critical for Companies? 

Training and development programs are critical for companies as they empower employees, close skill gaps, and enhance workforce capabilities. These programs are essential for attracting and retaining talent, offering clear pathways for advancement, and positioning the company as an employer of choice. They also address the skill gap issue, which can cost companies significantly if left unaddressed.

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