Employee training is essential for small businesses to facilitate growth over time and keep up with the increasing demands of their customer base, as well as keeping employees satisfied with their career and personal development.
Not only that, but properly investing time and money into the training of staff gives businesses a competitive edge over similar small businesses in their sector.
But how exactly do small businesses approach this kind of training?
This article explores how to train employees, why to train employees, when employees should be trained, as well as offering ways to train employees.
Creating a plan is critical to training employees in a way that sufficiently develops their skills and at the same time furthers a businesses objectives. The first thing to consider is what the business needs currently and going forwards and what needs addressing in terms of staff skills and experience to properly meet business targets.
Maybe staff are lacking in necessary digital skills and would benefit from a course related to this, or maybe their customer service skills and knowledge about the business is poor and needs to be developed. Having a purpose behind the training that leads to the development of the entire business is crucial and proper planning is the only way to ensure this happens.
In the planning stage business owners can also consider what skills their employees are lacking more generally and identify weaknesses in the team. By addressing these weaknesses directly and strengthening the entire team, the business is able to grow with its staff operating as a unit as opposed to stronger members carrying the weaker ones.
Promote an Environment of Learning
By encouraging learning amongst staff and facilitating a culture and environment that supports their continuous learning process, business owners can effectively instil a sense of value in their employees as well as enhancing their skills.
This makes them feel like their career is worthwhile and developing as opposed to being static and unrewarding, which increases job satisfaction levels and ultimately reduces staff turnover rates.
Not only this, but the value staff provide to the company will constantly increase if they are always learning ways to optimise their performance and minimise the wasting of time and resources.
Business owners and managers can begin to create an internal culture that supports learning by hosting regular training sessions that maintain and develop skills and expertise. Existing staff members can even be used as trainers to cut down on expenses.
This is effective because it brings all members of staff up to the level of the best employee, which once achieved, allows the team to cooperate much better without anyone pulling anyone else’s weight.
If there isn’t one employee that is significantly ahead of their peers within the organisation, it is an option to enrol them on a training course and then once they return they can relay the training to other members of staff.
It is also important to allow staff the necessary time to focus on their learning without passing judgement and making them feel like they are wasting time, as is sometimes the case in business environments.
Instead, a set amount of time should be allocated per week or even per day, for employees to explore learning materials and further their skills. This will also increase job satisfaction and demonstrate to the employee that they are valuable to the company and that their development is a priority.
In today’s world, training resources can be found online in abundance, some of which are completely free. Business owners can empower their employees by allowing them to choose from relevant training materials online and scheduling their own learning. This gives them added responsibility and a greater sense of purpose whilst simultaneously developing their skills and helping them reach their full potential, which in turn benefits the business.
LinkedIn offers an impressive catalogue of training materials that can be used by businesses to develop the skills and experience of their staff.
Cross-training is similar to the aforementioned method of using the star employee to train the other team members but this method puts all employees into pairs, with the weaker employees being partnered with the stronger employees.
This enables all members of staff to reach a similar level of capability so that they can always cover for one another if a team member is off sick, for example. If the employees have different roles, this technique can still be useful because it allows everybody to develop new skills by shadowing someone who works in a different area of the business. Set Goals
Establishing clear goals is important to getting the most out of training, especially for small businesses who need to achieve the best ROI possible. Tracking the performance of employees and tailoring training around the results can ensure that employees are constantly on a positive path and providing the most value to the business. This also enables the manager to improve the training because if the performance reviews are indicating that an employee is not meeting their goals, questions can be asked, problems with the training can be uncovered and consequently addressed.
Small business owners have a lot of options at their disposal when it comes to training employees and those mentioned in this article are but a few of them. The most important takeaway points for SME owners are to define clear goals for the training, ones that address weaknesses in staff members as well as the needs of the business going forwards.
Utilising the resources at hand is also critical for businesses with limited funds, such as having the most experienced employee teach the other employees or by cross-training people.
Finally, measuring the performance of employees on an ongoing basis and using training as a tool to ensure their performance is constantly improving, is fundamental to a good training strategy.