Many large corporations have entire departments dedicated to providing employee training, but employee training at a small business is typically just another task that sits on the end of a lengthy to-do list, likely to be ignored.
Besides taking time away from the office for training, traveling to attend conferences or industry events isn't typically within most small businesses' budgets. However, keeping your employees up to date on industry trends and providing career development is crucial to growing your business and retaining valuable employees.
What if you could "sneak" training into the workplace, seamlessly integrating it into your office culture? Here are three ways to provide employee training without sacrificing productivity or breaking your budget.
1. Send One, Not All
Conferences can be a great way for you and your employees to learn about industry trends, garner fresh inspiration and make important contacts. But conferences can be expensive, especially if your whole staff wants to attend. Martha Bartlett Piland, president and CEO of MB Piland Advertising + Marketing, recommends sending one or two employees to the conference or seminar. “When they return, have them conduct a brown bag 'lunch and learn' to share what they've learned with colleagues,” Piland says. “This is an excellent way to reinforce the training when they arrive back into the melee of daily work along with creating time for some good discussion and input as a team.”
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2. Host a Webinar or Contest
The Internet is rife with webinars and training videos on virtually any subject, and most are free or low cost. Sites such as TED, Lynda and Creative Live contain libraries of sessions on topics including tech niches and industry trends.
Another resource: vendors. Those who serve your industry can be amazing resources for online training materials. Community and technical colleges are also an excellent (and often more "official") way of learning something new, but these usually include a fee.
Compile a list of webinars and videos you want to encourage your employees to participate in based on their career track. Provide your staff with the links and time required for each video to help make it as easy as possible for them. You can increase participation by holding a contest to see who can earn the most training points and offering a valuable prize, such as a few extra hours of vacation time or gift card to a local restaurant.
3. Create Your Own Training Videos
If you want your employees to learn about a task or process specific to your business, consider making your own simple videos for your staff to watch during downtime. “Before performing a task that will be delegated to a staff member, I use QuickTime Player to record my screen and voice while I am working on a client file or one of the firm operation systems, such as our drafting software or marketing program,” says Tara Wilson, general counsel at Wilson, a boutique law firm. If the task is not on the computer, such as fulfilling orders, you can use your smartphone or tablet to record a simple video.
How to Film Your Own Training Videos
When employees are between projects or have some downtime, encourage them to watch relevant videos. If one of your team members shows interest in learning a new skill or pursing a role in your business, you can use these videos for career development.
For a fun twist, you can ask employees to create these videos. That way, you'll build a library of skills and processes for new employees, employees transitioning to a new role and even staff members who need to brush up on certain skills.
Read more about employee training.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.