Increasing Learning Engagement and Retention with a Certified Peer Trainer Program

June 22, 2022 | 827 Views

Increasing Learning Engagement and Retention with a Certified Peer Trainer Program

Calvin Banks, CHT

Vice President of Training and Development | Benchmark, A Global Hospitality Company

This article originally appeared in Hotel Management online magazine here:


If you put 20 people in a room and asked each of them to make a paper airplane, you would get 20 different versions. In the absence of specific instruction, people turn to their own devices.

With the current labor shortage, team members are joining our organizations and immediately go to work. Many times, they go right onto the floor without any specific instruction on how to do their jobs according to consistent brand standards.

A certified trainer program can give existing hourly employees an opportunity for growth and the skills, knowledge, and tools that they need to rapidly onboard new employees. Here are the key components of a certified trainer program that can decrease time to productivity, enhance employee experience and engagement, and ultimately increase retention.

Establish a process for recruitment and selection

Your ideal candidates are likely already training. You know who they are. They’re the ones who love being engaged, give a bit more, and desire earning a bit more. There are also individuals who are not as outgoing who may be interested. Having a formal application process will communicate the importance of the new role and allow all who are interested to be a part of the process.

Establish an incentive

I recommend a minimum of $1 per hour pay increase when they become certified. Make sure this is for ALL hours worked, because they tend to train all the time and notice areas of improvement for other employees all the time.

Develop a virtual course that includes user-generated content

I’ve found that a blend of instructor-led content and assignments can be accomplished in two-hour chunks over five consecutive days. The 10 hours not only demonstrate an investment in them, but ensures the transfer of knowledge. A surprising outcome of our program has been the user-generated content from their final video assignment. The creativity and quality of the videos is astounding. The content is now used in future courses as well as how-tos for task training.

Establish a training champion for each property

This training champion is a manager who wants a developmental opportunity and has an interest in training and employee growth. They provide the newly certified trainer with on-property support to ensure the program is a success. This can include regularly scheduled meetings, feedback, and a liaison to property leadership.

Measure results

Through this program, our properties have decreased 90-day turnover and increased employee engagement. We keep our trainers engaged through monthly and quarterly meets and recertify the trainer every 18 months to ensure ongoing improvement.

We all recognize that selecting the right talent is key. Remember that the other crucial piece is selecting the right person to train them.

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