Designing and implementing a comprehensive training program that is both effective and easily executed can be complicated, but establishing one that is unique to your company and intriguing to your staff can be even more of a challenge. You should “distinctify” learning and development initiatives on a continual basis to help grasp (and hold) the attention of your audience. Here are five tips for creating and maintaining a training concept that is both successful and innovative.

1. Never stop improving

It’s important to make sure you continue to improve upon and evolve training programs to meet the changing needs of your employees. Learning and development should never be a “one-and-done” initiative; it should be something that is built into the foundation and culture of your company. The most powerful training initiatives are flexible and adaptable so they can be molded to fit our dynamic society.

This year at ERA, we introduced our pioneering “Brand Champion” program to help foster growth among brokers and agents. We identify and elect regional “Brand Champions” who we task with attending quarterly training sessions on new and updated tools and programs offered by the ERA brand. These “Brand Champions” are then responsible for returning to their respective regions, and echoing the knowledge they gained during each training session to the larger network of ERA Real Estate professionals.

2. Have an employee-first mindset

Keeping team members top of mind is the best way to keep them actively participating in training and development programs. Make sure you are teaching tools and skills they deem important, not just those you or your C-suite believe will help improve productivity. Your employees will be much more open to your direction if you are receptive to their ideas.

Every 18 months, our development team distributes a survey to every broker and agent in the ERA network to get an idea of the specific skills, products, and/or services they would like to see incorporated into national training programs. Similarly, when brokers or agents become proficient in a new tool or service, we leverage them as subject matter experts to learn how to improve our original training approach.

3. Incorporate new tools

Make sure to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies, and tools affecting your company and the overall economy. This will ensure you’re providing staff members with everything they need to reach their full potential and compete with other industry powerhouses.

Currently, on-demand training is a hot topic among learning and development professionals of all professions. Providing team members with access to training programs whenever and wherever they want has greatly increased the frequency with which they use them. One of the ways we’ve leveraged this trend in our efforts is through our just-in-time initiative in which we transform training videos into bite-size, mobile-ready videos accessible by every ERA broker and agent. This way, each of our professionals has the ability to refresh themselves on any of the products or services we offer at any moment’s notice. The results speak for themselves, as we’ve already seen a 617% increase in enrollment for this program since its inception.

4. Gamification isn’t dead

Just like kids, adults love a little friendly competition! Incorporate contests and game-based learning into training programs as appropriate. This will not only increase participation but will also encourage employees to more fully digest the information being shared. Offering prizes even further incentivizes team members to immerse themselves in learning and development initiatives.

At ERA, we already leverage game-based learning with our “Brand Champions” program, where at the end of each corporate training session participants toss around a ball printed with the names of the new tools and programs they learned. Each time a “Brand Champion” catches the ball, he or she has to explain how to use the skill his or her hand is touching most, right on the spot. We’re in the process of incorporating more interactive, competitive components like this into the rest of our in-person and virtual training programs, so brokers and agents from across the country can challenge each other to learning- and development-based competitions.

5. Hack or scrap

Don’t be afraid to hack what is working and scrap what’s not. Once a training program is a success, look to team members to determine how to improve upon the initiative. Tweaking programs to make them easier to understand will simplify learning new tools or skills in the long-term. Additionally, removing ineffective trainings preserves the credibility of your learning and development programs, not to mention ensures time is not misspent.

Running quarterly reports of in-person and virtual training programs allows our team at ERA to see which trainings have the highest attendance and which are being underutilized. We use this information to determine which programs we should maximize and which we should revisit or remove; in fact, two of the most highly attended programs identified during our most recent status survey are already in the process of being updated.

Reinvigorating your learning and development programs is critical to their success. As your industry advances and evolves, you should revisit and revitalize your training approach to ensure you are providing the best service possible to your team.