Ensuring that you train employees well is critical to your small business operations. To get better results in service and productivity, training employees in crucial skills is a sound investment that too many business leaders fail to appreciate. Some executives or HR managers seem to feel that the time and costs of training aren’t justified.
However, a lack of training reduces employee engagement with the company and their duties. Allowing employees to feel frustrated and stressed can bring about high turnover rates, more errors, and poor motivation. This is a preventable situation since there are programs for that allow you to train employees on a limited budget.
1. Establish Training Objectives and Requirements
Consider feedback from staff and customers to determine what sort of skills need the most improvement, whether it’s technical job knowledge or fundamental people skills. Evaluating job performance reviews can help to identify common shortcomings or persistent obstacles for individual employees. These are the areas needing immediate improvement.
List these training challenges and prioritize them by assessing their value toward achieving your business’ long and short-term objectives, such as greater sales volume or quicker response times. Investigate specific training modules tailored to developing the necessary skills to achieve your goals.
2. Associations, Seminars, and Conferences
There may already be industry associations offering free or low-cost options such as online webinars, public conferences, or special lecturing and training events. Locate the trade associations operating in your area and subscribe to their newsletters or regularly check their websites for upcoming events.
Notify your employees of seminars and conferences that would benefit them, and encourage them to attend. This could be a good bonding experience as well as a learning opportunity. Some of these conferences may be free and open to the public, while others may require membership or a small fee. Make note of these details in advance and inform interested participants.
3. Peer-to-Peer Training or Mentoring
Peer-to-peer programs are a good way to elevate the skills of even experienced employees. This involves segmenting them into small teams so they can review their combined performance and discuss strengths and weaknesses as well as share suggestions.
Mentoring is an excellent way to train employees who are new and speed up their adjustment to their new roles by pairing them with a veteran. Match recent hires with employees possessing superior skills that they can pass on to new team members.
You could use these training experiences in the development of your own in-house training programs. You may have to provide additional compensation, but make your top performers official trainers who can mentor others or provide guidance to their teams. As an affordable alternative, you could have managers research and develop ongoing training sessions to address specific needs for each team.
Technology is providing a number of training tools your company could benefit from. Using the latest learning software could present highly flexible and effective training solutions. Buying or developing your own digital materials can be inexpensive and provide better training opportunities through their convenience and ease of use.
Some options in digital learning include:
- MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses are provided by many training sites as free or low-tuition courses that could cover a variety of subjects. These online programs have made it easy for remote users to increase their knowledge in their free time or working from home.
- Build a list of suitable custom or open enrollment programs. Share them with your employees and stress the benefits of signing up: Accessibility from anywhere at any time; self-paced learning; and greater value to their company and personal career.
Some digital training apps can also provide progress reporting on active members. Employees who don’t seem to be developing better skills can always take the course again or look for alternatives.
Companies can provide other options to MOOCs in their training processes. There are some comprehensive open-source learning managements platforms that you can customize to your needs free of charge. JIT or Just-In-Time modules provide brief but engaging videos on particular skill sets. More advanced modules can test knowledge as part of the program and adapt future sessions to address identified shortcomings.
This is the technique of applying gaming designs and principles to learning tools. It helps trainees to become more engaged with the learning experience. Employees can interact with the subject matter more deeply through fun, competition, and strategic concepts.
A more engaging, intense experience leads to better retention of knowledge. Trainees get a sense of personal reward through obtaining badges, gaining levels, and overcoming specific challenges. There is also a self-diagnostic component to gamification that provides users with immediate feedback on their knowledge and skills.
6. Provider Packages
Online providers offering training as a service usually do so through a range of topical webinars or online learning courses. Team members or trainers can search by subject and review the available lessons from each provider. Many topics will directly relate to industry, departmental, or job roles, but there are any number of training sessions addressing related business needs.
In conclusion, employee training usually justifies the costs by providing you with more skilled and motivated employees. There are affordable options like in-house training and online courses that can help you develop your team. Just be sure the solution you pick is relevant to your employees and business needs. Train employees consistently and make sure there are measurable results to help constantly improve performance.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.