How to Train Your Employees without Spending a Fortune

Every September, earlier sunsets and chillier mornings promise the inevitable: fall is on its way. And for many of us — maybe even most of us — the end of summer brings the urge to crack open a crisp new notebook (or create new word files, for those who aren’t quite so old) even though our school days are long behind us.

That’s not a bad thing.

For business owners, this can be a great thing. “Back to school” season reminds us that learning always has a place in the workplace; whether you’re hiring new employees who need training, or you want your current employees to update their skills or acquire new ones.

In a Goldman Sachs study, College Study of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses participants gave three reasons they made the effort to train employees:

1. They needed to meet standards mandated by government or the industry.
2. They had new hires who needed to learn the processes.
3. Offering regular training helped their business stay competitive and retain quality employees.

The data from the study showed that small business owners who make training a priority are more likely to grow and continue growing. While investing in training is an investment in the future of your business, it doesn’t have to be an overly costly venture. Here are some ways you can provide valuable training for your employees without breaking the bank.

Let your employees be the trainers. You might run the business, but in many cases, your employees run the day-to-day. Pairing up experienced, skilled employees with brand new hires can be a win all around. The newbies learn from the best, and your current employee – who may have been around for a long time – may get to see his or her own job through a new, fresher lens.

Cross Train. Rotate employees around the business to expand their skills and give them a better feel for the big picture. Well-rounded employees who know the ropes in multiple aspects of the business are more engaged and have a better sense of self-worth within the company. They’re also less likely to get bored and leave. Another benefit: Multi-skilled employees are a godsend when you’re short on staff or someone calls in sick.

Partner with other companies. Chances are, you’re not alone when it comes to feeling tapped for training dollars. Establishing “training co-ops” between small business owners is a collaborative way to share resources and training costs. It’s especially helpful when each business only has two or three employees to train at a time.

Use technology. When it comes to training, there’s probably an app for it. From Ted Talks to YouTube tutorials to training webinars there’s a whole world training at your fingertips. Online training also offers great flexibility, from letting you train one employee or a group of them — when and where it works best.

Government or trade organizations. If you’re a member of a trade organization or a union, make sure you take advantage of the benefits that come with membership— including seminars and workshops and mentoring and trade events. Your local and provincial governments also often offer free or low cost training programs, especially if your business is required to keep up with government standards.

But remember, to get the most out of any kind of training, you need to first develop a solid training plan.

· What are the skills and knowledge your employees need to do their jobs…to improve the success of your business…to help you stay competitive in your industry?

· Know your audience. Hours of classroom training may not be helpful to people who work with their hands all day.

· Likewise, make sure training matches the work your employees actually do. There’s no point in training non-technical staff on the latest point-of sale software (unless you also do some previous training to address the knowledge gap).



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