5 Ways to Effectively Train Government Employees in 2018

Published: Oct 31, 2017
Modified: May 20, 2020


Within months of the inauguration of the Trump administration earlier this year, a memorandum known as M-17-22 was issued by the Office of Management and Budget to outline a broad mandate to reform the federal government. The overall focus of the reform is to make the government “lean, accountable and more efficient,” as well as to maximize employee performance through various government training programs.

Select trainings and seminars for government employees will be key to supporting the directives outlined in M-17-22. Government agencies and employees at all levels will need to align operational work with agency goals and strategy, eliminate waste and inefficiencies, coach employees to maximize their individual performance, and leverage teamwork and collaboration to increase agency productivity.

Strategies for training federal government employees

There are a number of strategies you can use to train employees to support government agency reform. Here are some tips that will support a “lean” environment:

Leverage learning technology. Traditional classroom learning for a day or more is an institutionalized and effective training format that has been used for centuries. However, in a faster-paced, leaner environment, where you may have more remote employees, you also need to investigate options for standalone, on-demand eLearning and live virtual training.

This format is ideal for training government employees under the new M-17-22 mandate, considering it may be less expensive and less challenging to coordinate. Before moving forward, make sure that IT is aware of your plans and that you are in compliance with any security protocols and policy regarding your agency’s network.

Use and adapt free resources for learning. With YouTube, webcasts, white papers, and blogs populating the Internet, it’s in the interest of all federal agencies to research the multitude of online training resources that are available at no cost. Often, the training methods meant for a general or commercial audience can be adapted or positioned to serve government agencies. To be budget-conscious, look for free resources first, then make an investment in more formal learning and development activities.

Share and document learnings with your management and colleagues. Establish a culture of learning at your agency by debriefing and sharing an individual’s learning with the rest of your team. Post job aids and reference tools in common areas and on shared computer drives. Schedule lunch and learns and encourage collaboration and the sharing of best practices with counterparts in other departments and agencies.

Organize group learning in short “bursts.” In an era of reduced training budgets and staffing, the time and availability required for full-day or multiday training will be limited in some cases. Management and employees will thank you for scheduling learning events in half-day or less increments, especially for very targeted topic areas. For longer or deeper content, schedule shorter hours in a series of events, with “homework” between sessions to support the continuity and “stickiness” of the learning.

Leverage your internal talent to provide training and facilitation. Take an inventory of your team to see if anyone has an interest in doing internal training, especially in relation to information that is very agency, technical, or functional team specific. Outsourcing will always be needed in cases where external subject-matter expertise is required; however, you may be able to benefit from a cost-perspective by developing some homegrown resources for training.

Despite limited government training budgets and resources, including a planned reduction in the federal government workforce, learning and development programs should not follow this trend. These government training initiatives may need to be increased to teach federal employees how to become more efficient day to day. However, your choices of strategies for training government employees will need to be as smart and efficient as the overall culture and operation of the agency itself.