As a small business owner constantly juggling priorities, you might not have given much thought to training. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Small business owners typically see training as something that’s a part of more complex corporate structures with deep pockets and lots of regulations. Or it’s viewed as a luxury, a “nice-to-have,” but not a necessity.
But consultants writing on smallbizviewpoints.com say that employee training is essential for every business, regardless of size. It could even be argued that training is more important for small businesses than bigger companies. With everything changing so rapidly, how else will your employees keep up with new developments in the business, the industry or in technology except through periodic training? Plus, in most small businesses, cross training is a must.
Training new employees when they first come on board gets them off on the right foot by giving them a good sense of the business and culture and setting expectations. It’s the perfect time to convey brand attributes, vision and values. For all employees, having a mastery of the knowledge and skills for the job increases satisfaction and provides a sense of loyalty to the company. Remember, training employees is less expensive than hiring new ones.
Don’t limit yourself to classroom training. The authors point out that while it’s an option, it’s not the only one. You can use combinations of DVDs, software, video games or outside training experts, who will customize a program for you.
Blackboard Blogs, a site that explores the role and impact of technology in education, emphasizes that training in small and mid-sized businesses should not be a clone or scaled-down version of corporate training but instead, should meet the unique needs and characteristics of the smaller companies. It offers some training "best practices" for small and medium businesses:
- Train early. How you on-board employees sets the tone for their experience with you.
- Train often. We all need to stay current and learn new things. Training also helps cultivate the talent you need for your business.
- Cut administrative time. Find ways of offering quality training customer service solutions instead of wasting your business’s resources on training administration.
- Be flexible. Be agile and adaptable, continuously finding new and engaging ways (technologies) for delivering training.
- Stay tech savvy. Incorporate social media and technology employees already use, like tablets and smartphones, so that training can be conducted anytime, anywhere.
While training once consisted of someone droning on at the head of a classroom, today’s training is dynamic and imaginative. It meets the needs and personalities of employees where they are, and in doing so, delivers superior, long-lasting results to your company. If you’re interested in reading about some examples of companies that have put these principles to work in their training programs, there are some interesting ones at trainingmag.com. Click here to read the training editors’ picks for innovative and successful learning and development programs and practices.
Learning about other successful best practices will undoubtedly get your wheels turning in terms of training your own employees—or, if you’re already offering some training, how you can up your training game. Yahoo Finance offers tips for how to approach developing your training program and gives you even more ways training will benefit your business. Offering timely, relevant training to your employees, it says, not only can increase the profitability of your small business, but it’s also one of the smartest things you can do!
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