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Developing and training staff in a small business

October 11, 2011

People are a business’ strongest asset. To make sure your business stays competitive and flexible, you need to look at ways to keep ahead of the game. Giving your staff the skills to perform their roles to the best of their ability is key to this as training your employees can increase profits, improve customer satisfaction, and make your business a great place to work.


Why train?

The benefits of a positive, dynamic training policy will reach all areas of your business. Staff will respond to your investment in them and this will in turn enhance motivation and increase their loyalty to your business. Training will also improve effectiveness and efficiency, increasing productivity.

What are your training needs?

Conducting a training needs analysis (TNA) is an effective way to identify skill gaps in your workforce and support your business objectives. Think about using straightforward techniques, such as an employee survey, management feedback, or monitoring customer feedback.

A TNA will identify who needs to be trained and establish employees’ preferred learning method. It will also review training currently in place and assess what needs to be done to fulfil training requirements; who needs to be trained and what skills should they focus on. Remember, assessment should take place at all levels of the business, from senior management to shop floor.

For support and advice on training, have a look at Train to Gain, a Government funded scheme that can help you establish the skills your business needs and find suitable training.

Delivering your training

To determine the most appropriate type of training, you must assess the pros and cons. Consider the cost, space, time needed, and return on investment for each training option. In-house training is cheaper than other options. It can be tailored to your specific business’ needs, but can be less sophisticated.

Outsourced training involves a specialist that may bring you up to speed on current best practice and new ideas, but it can be expensive. You also need to ensure that there are equal rights of access to training for all employees, including home-workers, part-timers and disabled staff.

People learn in different ways, training methods should be tailored to meet your employees’ needs. This will speed up their learning and reduce training costs. For example, if one employee learns through observation and questioning, job shadowing would be an effective training method. To ensure the training is effective and valuable, it should also be tied into the individual personal development plans already be in place.

Evaluating your training

Evaluating your training will ensure a good return on investment. Training should be consistent, regular and make a valuable contribution to the organisation. After training sessions, ask your employees to give their feedback on the course content and delivery. Having completed your evaluation, you will be in a position to fine-tune your programme and make improvements for the future.

Don’t forget about yourself!

Lead by example. Show how much you value the business benefits of training by continuing your own development.

By putting together a training programme that responds to the needs of both your business and employees, you can expect to see an improvement in performance, profit and motivation. While ensuring this investment fits with your overall business plan, training can help you achieve business success.

More help on motivating and managing staff

For more tips and ideas on how to hire, motivate and keep great staff, read these guides;

And for guidance on other employment issues, try some of ByteStart’s other popular guides;