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Every business needs to train employees. Whether it’s teaching them something basic like learning the cash register or helping them develop more complex, niche skills. Unfortunately, most businesses handle training poorly, expensively and in a way that fosters worse outcomes.
Why is this the case and how can you avoid these pitfalls?
The focus problem
First, we have the focus problem. Most business owners understand that training and development are important. What they don’t understand is which areas of training and development are most important. Having employees with more skills and greater familiarity is good. But, if your employees are learning the wrong things, their knowledge may not end up having any practical use.
How can you be sure that you’re training employees on the right things, and that you’re not wasting time?
- Understand the most important skills to develop for your team: What’s stopping you from being successful? What could lead to a meaningful increase in productivity, efficiency or capability? For example, if you’re running a restaurant, it’s advisable to have all your team members be familiar with CPR and other life-saving techniques.
- Make objective economic decisions: Try to reduce everything down to numbers and economics. Can you quantify the benefits your company will receive by training employees in this specific way? Does it make fiscal sense for your company to do it?
- Remain adaptable: The best skills and knowledge to learn are always changing, as is your business landscape. If you want to become successful and remain successful in executing your training programs, it’s important to remain adaptable. Don’t keep the same systems in place for decades without at least tweaking them.
The employee engagement problem
We also have an employee engagement problem. It’s tough to keep employees engaged throughout the training and education process. But it’s vital if you want employees to retain what they’re learning and if you want to maintain or build employee morale.
So what steps can you take to improve employee engagement while training?
- Incentivize participation: Make it compelling to participate in employee training. You can do this in several ways, such as by offering raises or bonuses to employees who undergo training.
- Teach in many ways: There are many different learning styles. People learn better and are more interested in learning if they can learn in a way that aligns with their personal style and needs. That’s why it’s important for you to teach your students in many different ways, employing visual learning, active learning and more.
- Get feedback and improve: Don’t just assume that your employees are okay with your training program. Ask them what they think. Collecting feedback and using that feedback to improve is indispensable in making your training program more engaging.
The retention problem
Are you sure your employees are remembering everything they’re learning? Training doesn’t do you much good if your employees forget everything they’ve learned after a few weeks.
Here are a few ways you can boost employee memory retention:
- Test and reexamine: Consider testing your employees at the end of each skill development session. You can even test them in the future to see how much they retain.
- Improve applications: People are much more likely to learn a skill if they’re using it actively. Make sure your employees are able to apply what they learn on a regular basis.
- Get feedback and improve: Again, employee feedback is helpful here. Ask employees if there’s anything you can do differently to help them remember and practically utilize their new knowledge.
The spending problem
There’s one more way most organizations handle training poorly: they simply spend too much money. Training, education and development are all expensive, and there’s no real way around that. But if you consistently spend more than you need to, you could end up losing money in this area.
Here’s what you can do to fix it:
- Narrow your focus: There is such a thing as training too much. Try to narrow your focus. Spend your time and money only on the training systems that seem to be most valuable for your organization.
- Look for inexpensive alternatives: It’s possible to hire an outside consultant or use expensive training services. Chances are that you can find some inexpensive alternatives. Shop around to look for the best rate.
- Train from within: Consider training from within. Employees may be more engaged if they’re working with teammates. Also, you’ll improve morale and save money in the process.
It’s true that most businesses don’t approach training in a productive or profitable way. But you don’t have to suffer the same fate. With just a bit of extra proactive planning, and a commitment to efficiency, you can reshape your business training programs. And start seeing better results.