When it comes to running a small business, it can often feel like you’re pressed for time thanks to everything that needs to be organized and managed, especially without the manpower of a larger company to pick up the slack.
However, even with everything else to keep track of, it’s important not to overlook employee training – a mistake that huge numbers of employers are guilty of making, with 70% of employees saying they don’t have the skills they need for their current jobs.
For your business to achieve its full potential, you need to make time for employee training and ensure your training plan is effective and engaging. To get the most out of employee training, follow these tips and give your small business a big boost.
Planning is essential
For your training to be effective, it needs to be organized. Take the time to decide what skills your employees need to learn, how much time you’ll need to allocate in your business’ schedule for training, what resources you’ll require, and what training needs to take priority. You should also talk to your employees and get their input, as they’ll have a better idea of what skills they’re missing than you might.
Train your employees to train others
Your small business might not have the same resources as a larger one, but you still have one of the most useful assets for training: experienced employees. Your most skilled senior employees can be highly effective trainers if given the right support, ensuring that veteran workers can pass down their skills to newer recruits and help to build a highly successful training program.
Discuss what resources they may need to run training sessions for other employees and give them time to work on training materials, and also make sure to incentivize the added responsibility by offering bonuses, raises or other perks in return.
Using experienced employees to train newer staff is a great way to pass on vital skills, and also helps to delegate some of the responsibility for training away from you so you can focus more on the rest of your work.
Keep your goals in mind
In your planning, you should have identified what you want to achieve through your training program. What areas do you want your business to improve in? How do you want your business to expand in the future? What are your long-term plans? All of these can inform what skills are the most important for your business to achieve its goals.
You should also consider your employee’s aspirations. Talk to individual employees about what their personal and professional goals are, and discuss what sort of training can help them to achieve those goals.
As well as engaging more with training if they feel it’s to their benefit and not just the company’s, showing you care about employees’ development can increase their overall engagement with their work – an important factor given that an estimated $450-550 billion is lost each year due to disengaged workers.
Utilize external training
Sometimes, you won’t have the necessary resources to organize the necessary training within your own business. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to bring in outside help – whether that means hiring industry experts or qualified trainers to deliver talks and training sessions, sending employees to skills training centers, or supporting employees to pursue certifications and qualifications from major industry organizations.
The upfront cost of external training may be off-putting, especially for small businesses with limited budgets, but the investment will pay off in the long run. Companies that invest in employee training are on average 21% more profitable than those that don’t, so training costs will essentially pay for themselves in the long term.
Make sure your training program is engaging
If employees feel bored during training, then it won’t be anywhere near as effective, as they won’t retain any of the information you’re trying to give them. Just standing and talking at them or giving them long sets of instructions to read won’t engage your employees with what you’re trying to teach them, so make sure the training will hold their interest.
Using more practical teaching measures, such as quizzes, videos, games and interactive group exercises, can help to make training more entertaining, keeping employees engaged and making the training more effective as a result. Hands-on training which allows employees to put new skills to the test will also increase engagement.