If you hear the words ‘employee training’ and immediately get in a panic about cost, you’re not alone. Many businesses, big and small, don’t invest in training programmes because of associated expense and the legitimate fear of employees taking their new found skills with them should they leave.
On the contrary, it may surprise you to learn that employee development has been proven to have a positive effect on staff retention as well as being an excellent morale booster. In fact, you might actually risk losing your staff if you don’t keep them stimulated – and we all know how much of an effect employee loss can have on a smaller business.
Employee satisfaction is far from being the only bonus to developing your workforce, you will also be ensuring that you’re on top of the latest industry happenings. You might well have earned your stripes as a leader and entrepreneur, but it always helps to have someone learning about new advancements in your industry that you may have missed.
While it may seem like there’s no clear return on investment, consider how much money you could save through taking certain specialisms in-house rather than hiring a freelancer. There’s a lot to consider when you think about up-skilling your workforce, especially when you’re on a tight budget and training seems like a luxury. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to train up your staff that won’t break the bank and can only serve to bring your team closer together.
1. Encourage skill-sharing
You’d be surprised at how many desirable skills are already in your possession, encouraging training between employees is a great way to make sure your workforce are all equally well-equipped across multiple disciplines. It also helps out with succession planning, should your accountant decide to leave unexpectedly – at least your business administrator has been taught how to use their accounting systems and can handle any crossover period.
Tip: Allow your staff to organise a cross-training schedule between themselves, this also lets them brush up on their presentation skills in a risk-free environment.
2. Attend industry events
There’s no better way to stay in the loop about what sorts of things your employees should be clued up on than attending regular meetups with other businesses in your industry. Again, these don’t have to cost anything at all and most cities have their own small business groups that meet up on a semi-regular basis.
Tip: Check out meetup.com and see what’s on in your local area. Don’t be afraid to bring back new ideas to motivate your team, perhaps you could even invite them along to share their insight on their specialist area.
3. Start a mentorship programme
Who does love to have guidance from an experienced colleague every now and then to give them a confidence boost or some sound business advice? If you’ve got directors and senior leadership within your business, setting up a mentorship programme could be the perfect way to boost your more junior employees’ skills.
Tip: If you’re a startup with very few personnel and haven’t got the time to spare, perhaps you could enlist the help of one of your business advisors or even host an SME mentorship evening to offer a fresh perspective to your team.
4. Utilise the internet
Training courses don’t need to be a huge expense to your business, there are tonnes of free learning resources online in lieu of a formal qualification that provide just as much value. From free tech resources by Google, to startup specific training programmes – all you need to do is search for free employee training and you’re met with a plethora of options.
Tip: Check out Startup Academy to see what free online courses they have on offer, they cater specifically to startups and SMEs and even have great resources for management. For the best in free technology based learning, see what’s on at your local Google Digital Garage. You can learn about all sorts, from the basics of Excel to how to become an SEO whiz.
5. Set training goals
It’s all well and good to encourage learning within your organisation, but there needs to be a way of measuring its success. Not only does this make your team feel a sense of accomplishment when they meet their target, but it also proves the validity of your training initiative.
Tip: Set training goals with your employees to make sure they are achievable and suit both the business and them as an individual. Using your one-to-one meetings as an opportunity to identify any knowledge gaps and work together to plug those gaps with a training plan.
So as you can see, it really doesn’t need to cost to earth to upskill your organisation. Setting yourselves time aside to look at the free resources available to you can work wonders. Give these tips a try and watch your business become home to a team of true specialists in your industry.