Many small business owners don’t prioritise training, and it’s easy to see why:
- Training involves costs in terms of time and money which place a strain on a small organisation.
- Employees miss time at work and either have to be replaced or don’t get their work done.
- You might be paying employees for hours you can’t bill out to a client which you otherwise perhaps might be doing.
There are ways to reduce the costs of training, but actually, although most business owners do have a general sense that training is a good thing, thinking about what the benefits to the business actually are can be quite convincing when considering whether investing in developing your employees is a good business decision.
“What if we train our employees and they leave? What if we don’t and they stay?“
- Improved performance
Improving employee performance in one way or another is both the main impetus for training, and hopefully the most significant benefit. But what does improved performance actually mean, and how does it benefit your business?
It means giving your team the skills and knowledge required to carry out their role to the best of their ability which means increased productivity, fewer mistakes and improved quality. All of which have an impact on your bottom line and gives you a competitive advantage.
It means enabling employees to take on additional responsibilities, making the team more flexible and efficient, able to cover for each other.
In turn it means that internal promotion in the event of an employee leaving or new roles coming up is far more likely to happen, and to be successful when it does, saving you the recruitment costs and lost productivity that usually comes with external appointments.
It means addressing weaknesses in the team and in individual employees quickly and effectively, bringing the performance of the team to a higher level overall. Addressing weaknesses with effective training reduces the likelihood of a need for going through procedures for managing poor performance, which can drain management time and have a negative impact on the team.
It makes life easier for your managers, reducing the amount of time they need to spend supervising, correcting mistakes and dealing with poor performance, enabling them to spend more time concentrating on activities which will take your business to the next level.
- Employee engagement
Employees who are being developed feel valued and motivated and become engaged in their job and invested in their employer. This means improved rates of retention, which keeps valuable knowledge and skills in your business, and saves enormously on time and money involved in recruitment and training new staff.
Engaged employees go the extra mile, putting in extra hours at busy times, and being more willing to be flexible when necessary, both of which can be a lifesaver in a small business.
- PR benefits
Having a reputation as a business which invests in its employees, and places value on high quality training pays dividends. It improves your attractiveness as a potential employer and increases the pool of high quality candidates available to you when recruiting.
It also enhances your reputation among customers and potential customers. They may not only feel reassured as to quality of product or service they will receive, but may also prefer dealing with an organisation who values its employees for ethical reasons.
- Reduced legal vulnerability
Disputes or legal action can have a severe impact on a small business and good quality training can help avoid these. Your business may need to comply with industry regulations in terms of quality, production methods or health and safety, and ensuring all relevant staff are fully trained in these is essential.
Regardless of specific industry requirements, good quality health and safety training can reduce the likelihood of expensive legal claims in terms of possible personal injury claims by staff or even customers.
Training in awareness of diversity/equality, bullying and harassment and similar workplace issues will reduce the likelihood of expensive claims in this area, while good management training will reduce the risk of constructive dismissal claims from staff who are being poorly managed.
So now I’ve convinced you of the business benefits of developing your employees and looking forward to improved performance, engagement and an enhanced business reputation, you need a training strategy.
A training strategy may sound rather grand in a small business but developing one will ensure that the training you invest in is as effective as it can be. A strategy will ensure valuable resources are directed in exactly the right place and in the right way, and that the training you invest in has the most significant impact on your organisation’s performance that it could possibly have, so it’s worth spending some time on.
You can develop a simple training strategy for your business by asking yourself just 3 questions:
- What training do you need?
You need to analyse what training needs your business has. This information could come from a variety of sources, including manager/employee feedback, performance reviews, customer surveys or similar. You need to identify where you have skills gaps and which employees would benefit from additional knowledge in certain areas. You may be considering changes in operating procedures, new equipment or developing the business in a new direction, all of which will mean you have training needs.
- How will you deliver it?
Training could be delivered internally or externally, and could be through a variety of methods, including formal training courses, coaching/mentoring, online resources or job shadowing.
How you deliver your various training needs will depend on a number of factors including resources available, planning the delivery effectively will ensure the most appropriate and effective method is used.
- How will you make sure it’s working?
Learning which isn’t transferred into the workplace effectively is a waste of time and money, so you need to ensure your training strategy includes this. When planning how to deliver the needs you have, consider how well the various types of learning will transfer into real jobs in a real team.
Think about how you are going to find out how well the training worked both in terms of immediate effectiveness on the knowledge/skill levels of staff and in terms of longer-term impact on performance, and put in place a strategy to analyse and monitor both of these.
It sounds obvious, but once you’ve written your training strategy, it’s time to actually put it into practice. Get it going, even if it’s not completely perfect, and then set a date to review it, amend it and update it.
New training needs may arise and these need to be taken into account and addressed. If aspects of your training strategy haven’t worked as well as you would have liked, it’s crucial to ensure you have this information in order that you can amend the strategy as needed.
Similarly, if a training intervention has been particularly successful, and had a significantly higher impact than you may have anticipated, you need to know this so that you can expand on it and use it elsewhere.
- Business benefits of employee training - July 5, 2021
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