Thursday, April 19, 2018

6 Tips on Training Your Small Business Employees on a Budget

The value of well-trained employees to a small business is priceless. However, when severe economic times bear down on us, employee training budget is usually the first to be cut. Cutting your small business’s training budget often makes sense at the time; however, it will prove to be a costly mistake in the long run.

By giving employees an opportunity to develop their skills, small businesses stand to benefit from increased employee engagement and job satisfaction. This enhances their productivity and makes them less likely to leave.

In fact, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that over 86% of employees attributed an organization’s commitment towards their professional development as one of the top factors that contribute towards their job satisfaction.

This has seen to employers spending over $177 billion per year on formal training and a further $413 billion on informal training. Now small business employers may feel like they cannot compete with the big boys when it comes to training expenditure. However, there are cost-effective solutions that can help you develop your workforce’s skills.

1. Know Your Needs and Identify Your Goals

You need to review your business’s goals. Research has shown that over 80% of SMB owners with fewer than ten employees did not track their goal-setting. Yet, business success often depends on setting business goals. 

Thus, being aware of your short- and long-term objectives will allow you to create an employee development plan which will facilitate those goals.

After pin-pointing specific goals for each aspect of your business, look at your workforce’s performance and identify areas that need improvement. Now observe while testing your employees to see if they have all the necessary skills you require them to have. 

Nevertheless, asking is the best way of knowing where they are struggling. A good relationship with employees is therefore important to help you realize fruitful discussions with your workers.

Testing is important as well since some employees may be unable to communicate their training needs effectively. This data will enable you to draw a baseline for goal-setting and identifying solutions.

2. Find Affordable Training Programs

A lot of trade associations often provide training programs to their members during annual events or regularly hold seminars and workshops. Check your association’s newsletter or website for information about training opportunities that come with the membership.

3. Mentoring Opportunities

By offering your workforce opportunities to learn in a peer environment, you contribute to a good office culture. You can seek help from organizations that have faced similar issues, so your employees can discover other ways of handling their jobs or gain a fresh perspective.

Moreover, consider mentors a highly important factor in your employee training strategy, as they are individuals that are experienced in their areas and thus are well suited to offer guidance and support to others. 

Mentorship is an excellent way of developing professional skills and knowledge. The majority of mentors tend to do it on a voluntary basis which means it is not necessarily expensive.

Coaching is an efficient and cost-effective method of fostering and developing talent within the organization. It will enhance not only the worker’s performance but also that of the organization. 

Unlike mentorship, it does not offer specific advice; instead, the coach uses their questioning and listening skills to help bring out the best out of an individual. Managers need to embrace the coaching role more to help employees find answers within themselves.

4. Technology-based training

The Internet abounds with information that is invaluable to your workforce. The employees can access courses from their computers at designated times. E-learning does reduce overheads while also making it possible to monitor progress, which does not only come in handy with in-office employees, but also with your remote workforce

They choose when and how they want their training thus enabling them to use time efficiently.

Online courses can be free, paid for, or a combination of both. They allow you to customize your employees’ experience by either allowing an open enrollment or signing them up for particular lessons.

Nevertheless, these courses are not an instant fix as you still have to ensure that your employees are responding well to the learning. You also have to be sure that the e-learning platform complements your business.

5. Gamifying the Training Experience

Incorporate games at the workstation to increase employee engagement. Learning a new game is akin to learning a new skill thus incorporating games that task the mind is important for developing the employee. 

Also, it makes the actual training much easier. Gamifying the training experience also leads to competitiveness among employees which consequently leads to increased productivity.

6. Establish Relationships

At times, a training course is what your employees could use. However, training courses are not always budget-friendly. Thus, a relationship with an organization that has a similar plight to your small business means you can share the training course thus reducing costs.

Having already established goals and put systems in place such as employee training to facilitate their achievement, you need a means of tracking your small organization’s success. 

Ensure that both employees and management are aware that their performance is going to be measured. Everyone should own their roles so that you can track their performance through efficiency and productivity metrics.

For instance, how much an employee can accomplish in a day is a productivity metric while an efficiency metric will look at how much effort and expenses are used in a particular task.

Your small business, just like any other, has top-tier performers as well as average ones. Thus, for the holistic growth and development, employee training is vital. Utilize the above cost-friendly techniques to see a boost in your staff’s efficiency and productivity.

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88

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