Theoretically, training and developing your people sounds like a no-brainer. Companies benefit from staff members' newly upgraded skills while employees grow in their careers and bask in their company's committee to their growth.

Only there's one glaring problem with this pleasant story. According to the American Society for Training and Development, 90 percent of what employees learn during training isn't retained. Or to put that more bluntly: Most formal training doesn't actually help those who receive it do their jobs better.

Other employees make the best teachers

Which is probably why data-obsessed Google mostly takes a different approach to training. The deep-pocketed company certainly has the resources to afford the fanciest training programs around. But as its former people boss Laszlo Bock has explained, the company still mostly opts for peer-to-peer training in which the highest performers teach and support other employees looking to improve.

Why? Maybe that's because he and other Google bosses have read the studies that show peer-to-peer coaching is much more effective than traditional training. Or maybe it's that this approach isn't just more effective, it's also wildly cheaper.

The cost is nothing more than a little bit of lost productivity on the part of the top employees who act as coaches, and even that's partly if not entirely offset by the performance bump in those they train. Plus, the training is likely to be a lot more relevant and useful than whatever cookie-cutter seminar you would sign up your people for instead.

Or as Google itself explains on its Re:Work blog: "Your own employees are perhaps the most qualified instructors available to you. Employees develop and grow by teaching others, and the people in your organization get to learn from peers with first-hand knowledge of the business. It can be a great way to scale learning curriculums within your organization, leading to a culture of learning that values continuous development and the sharing of knowledge and expertise."

Everything you need to know to set up your own peer-to-peer training program

Convinced this is an approach that could work at your company, but still a little fuzzy on the details of exactly how to set up a peer-to-peer training program? Don't worry; Google's got your back. The search giant is not only endorsing the approach, it's also offering other businesses a detailed and completely free guide to setting up their own programs, including:

  • Tools to help select instructors

  • Training to teach teaching

  • Surveys to assess effectiveness

Just follow the link above for all the details. Or, if you're struggling with other HR challenges, check out Google's free guides to improved hiring and better management for more tools and advice.