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Training Employees on a Tight Budget

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Lack of training can result in business inefficiencies.  It can lead to employees who aren’t motivated to improve.  It can also result in the departure of employees who do want to improve.  Lack of training and opportunity are key reasons that employees leave a company.

Too many small business owners don’t consider the costs of these departures. Not only do you have expenses for recruiting, hiring and training someone new, you have to include the cost of time all those things take, plus the time it takes for a new employee to make a positive contribution.

Turnover can be a huge headache for a small business. So are generating revenue and managing cash flow.  So how can you provide good employee training without breaking the budget?  Here are a few suggestions:

Brown-Bag Lunches

These are a great way to help educate everyone on what and how each employee contributes to the business. Ask employees to come prepared to give an overview of a typical day and typical problems they encounter.  You cal also ask them to talk about a topic you select.

You’ll probably be amazed how little people know about what others do.  It will benefit everyone to understand the big picture of the company. For example, a sales rep might provide an overview of the sales process.  He can talk about the most frequent objections they encounter, as well as the key things that interest customers. And, of course, customer service is a topic that can benefit everyone.  The possibilities are endless.  An added benefit is the camaraderie that develops as personal relationships grow stronger.

Utilize staff members

If you have someone in your organization who has strong communication skills and patience, consider designating them as a trainer. Purchase or help them create materials to use with the rest of your staff.  You could also have them attend classes and share what they learned.

Cross-Train Employees

It’s smart for a small business to have a workforce equipped to take on other roles if needed.  Look at the different jobs in your organization and develop a cross-training plan to make sure you have multiple people who can cover every task.  This will help when someone is out on vacation, when someone gets sick,  or when someone leaves unexpectedly.  In addition to these benefits, giving employees new roles or responsibilities also helps increase job satisfaction.

A good way to implement this it to have the employee you’re training shadow someone who is doing the job until they are ready to try it. You might think about rotating roles so employees are continuously learning and challenged to achieve new things.

Use In-House Mentors

Pair a new employee with someone who is good on the job. For example, a new sales rep could benefit from shadowing customer meetings with a successful, experienced employee.

Utilize Associations or Trade Groups

Many industry associations offer training programs for members at annual events, online, or at seminars.  Check out your trade association for training opportunities that may be included in your membership.

Online Training Courses

A wide variety of free or at low-cost courses are available online.  They’re easy to find using simple search techniques and provide a great way for employees to learn at their own pace.

Set Goals and Measure Success

Before you start any training or mentoring program, be specific about what you and your employees want to achieve.  Put specific training goals and performance metrics in place and share them with your employees. Tell them you will assess the impact the training has had on their overall job skills and performance, and then follow up every six-months.