Training and development add value to existing staff members as well as updating skills and competencies and ensuring a positive culture of self-worth and value.
Relevant and quality training initiatives are one of the factors that can boost staff retention and promote a happier workplace. However, they can be costly.
If you are an SME without the deep pocket of many large corporations there are still schemes and initiatives which you can implement without having to resort to paying big price tags for conferences or seminars. These can be just as effective and mean employees don’t have to miss out on time spent investing in themselves.
Clever initiatives to train and inspire staff on a budget
Here are some great ideas and suggestions to train, inspire and educate staff without breaking the bank.
- Know your industry – there is a wealth of free information out there if you just know where to look. Try professional organisations which offer webinars, interesting blog posts and white papers, it might require a membership subscription but this will allow access to a range of useful resources which you can use across the entire workforce. Just compare the cost of a nominal subscription fee with the alternative of paying a professional provider to come in-house and deliver a course;
- Use an employee forum which is a free and effective mechanism to encourage integration amongst staff and allows different departments whose paths may not normally cross, to engage with one another. A book club is another version of this and will bring together people who don’t normally mix. It’s organic and benefits staff on a multiplicity of different levels;
- Establish a mentoring or buddy programme, an idea successfully borrowed from the educational setting. Pair people up where one person can enhance the knowledge and skills of another – it’s a win-win as most staff members will respond positively to being approached to mentor and new or less experienced employees can up their skillset;
- Bring in an industry expert or relevant speaker – this can start a useful process of inter-business collaboration and allow employees to reach out to their opposite numbers in similar and contrasting organisations;
- Launch a lunch club or ‘lunch and learn’ as it is sometimes called and invite people to listen to a speaker or presentation whilst they eat – the employer can provide the lunch or beverages and snacks to go alongside or why not encourage staff to take turns to bake? This is a good use of time as it doesn’t interrupt the working day and tends to encourage better attendance;
- Stay up to date with new platforms and don’t forget YouTube where you can download a quick five-minute presentation on just about any topic. Another good resource is LinkedIn with a huge variety of online business, technical and creative courses. Podcasts are the new educational tool on the block and so easy to use any time any place;
- Don’t overlook the more old-fashioned routes like trade journals and industry publications as many of these have an online presence;
- Why not train some employees in public speaking? Toastmasters has a low-cost programme that develops confidence and leadership skills;
- Analyze what you are already doing and develop existing programmes and systems or refresh and rebrand them. Capture some of the things that go on every day under the radar such as on the job training or mentoring and bring them into the fold of a formal programme – you may be doing more than you think;
- Find out about your employees, their personal stories and hobbies and interests; there could be valuable and transferable skills that could be shared with the rest of the workforce right there in your midst. Most staff will have something to offer either connected to the job they do or anchored to something they are involved with outside the workplace;
- Make sure your recruitment programme picks up on prospective employees who may be interested in staff training and development.
Top training tips
Ditch the PowerPoint and employ an interactive and collaborative style of training that engages employees and embraces staff members of all ages and backgrounds.
If you are using online resources then host a collective session in a conference room where people can undertake the course together but don’t forget to include flexibility and access for those staff who are away or unable to attend for other reasons.
Take feedback from employees about current courses and suggested initiatives; encouraging both feedback and input as part of the collaborative process.
Successful staff training does not have to be complicated or expensive and thinking outside the box due to budgetary and time constraints can often result in some of the most popular and effective training initiatives within an organisation.
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