As your business grows, you probably need to add more employees into the fold. But, growth does not mean that you have money to burn, so it’s logical to stretch the budget by turning to the entry-level pool, at least some of the time.
Entry level employees often evolve into the most loyal and gifted workers. In the beginning, however, they probably need training just to meet basic work requirements. As they grow, they may also need training to acquire more advanced skills. Professional training services are often expensive, but resourceful businesses can often find more affordable ways to bring a new work force up to speed.
Not all Training Costs a Fortune
If your business is highly technical, such as a software development firm or a medical or law office, you obviously need to hire highly-qualified employees for the top jobs. But, not all employees work at those levels. If you want to provide in-house training for support staff, here are five ideas that can help you create a knowledgeable staff.
#1. Convert Existing Employees To Trainers
This is a viable alternative if you have knowledgeable employees who are patient and willing to take on this role. Keep in mind, however, that experienced employees often take important steps for granted, so you need to work with prospective trainers to make sure that the training is logically-organized and thorough. For example, they might forget to mention the need for safety equipment or other measures needed to run certain equipment.
Before they start their new roles as trainers, it’s helpful to review the details with them and provide them with a check list to ensure that all steps are fully covered. Then, test the training on one new employee to allow for adjustments that will make it most effective.
Keep in mind that this same approach is an excellent way to cross-train employees to prepare them to fill in for vacationing or sick employees.
#2. Get Affordable Skills From Online Sources
Whether new employees need training on basic computer and software skills to more advanced subject matter, there is probably online training available. Lynda.com and Udemy.com are both well-known examples of online training companies that offer a wealth of subject matter. There is a charge for coursework, but Lynda.com offers initial free trials.
The courses are generally well-organized and provide opportunities for trainees to practice. Some courses might include progress testing.
#3. Take Targeted College Courses
Employees who need advanced college coursework might benefit from low-cost courses offered by some universities or through online services such as coursera.org. Students may not be able to become doctors, lawyers or maybe rocket scientists through this site; however, there’s an amazing amount of coursework available even in these highly-specialized areas. And, individuals interested in earning degrees or certificates can also purchase coursework at a fraction of the cost of taking classes on campus.
#4. Learn for Free
If you’re looking for information on anything from business and economics to philosophy and religion, then a free TedTalk might be for you. You and your employees can watch a variety of videos on a variety of subjects, but they take it a big step further.
One TedTalk feature allows you to create interactive lesson pages based on existing YouTube videos. In essence, you select a video and then add pertinent questions or discussion prompts, along with additional resources for students to explore. This feature even allows you to monitor student progress along the way.
Another free option is Khan Academy , which got its start by providing free math lessons for school children. It now offers a considerably broader choice of subject matter, with plenty of adult-focused topics, including science and engineering, computing, economics, and finance and career-related lessons.
#5. Offer Rewards for Self-Training
When on-the-job training marks the difference between good performance and employment challenges, it serves as its own reward. However, employees who choose to advance their knowledge about your business or industry should be recognized for their efforts — especially when they do it on their own time.
Naturally, the best rewards are when the stars align just right so you can immediately promote employees as they gain more advanced skills (particularly if they foot the bill). Since small businesses do not typically have an overflow of appropriate jobs, however, you need to find other ways to recognize employee accomplishments in the interim.
During their training, permitting a few extra hours off to study for exams serves as recognition even as it displays your support for their efforts. After successful completion of coursework, take them to lunch or even throw a pizza party to celebrate. If you can expand their responsibilities and offer additional compensation, all the better.
Management Benefits from Training, Too
You may be the head honcho at your company, but that doesn’t mean that you know it all. You need to keep up with new technological and industry changes to meet or exceed your competition. And, as you continue to learn, you will gain new vision to add new product lines or services.
And, don’t forget that professional organizations are an excellent source of information. If you are not aware of any organizations within your industry, you might get some ideas by reviewing our monthly list of upcoming events. Some listings are industry-specific, while others cover more generalized small business topics. Either way, you’re bound to obtain some good information and discover networking opportunities that generate a few business relationships that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.