4 Tips to Improve Staff Training for Small Businesses

March 21, 2023
Checkr Editor

Editor’s note: This blog was written for Checkr by Casey Dorman, sales manager at Gingr software.

As a business owner, you know that recruiting a strong pool of candidates is a challenge in and of itself. Everything from getting your open positions in front of the right audiences to performing effective background checks is essential to building a qualified and passionate team. 

However, the hiring process isn’t over once the ink has dried on your new employee’s offer of employment. The staff training process is another critical aspect of your hiring journey, and ensuring that your new hires have a positive onboarding experience will set your business up for success. 

Whether you run a barbershop, karate dojo, or pet-care business, you can benefit from these staff training best practices:

  • Evaluate current skills before you hire
  • Provide a training agenda
  • Offer hands-on experiences 
  • Build connections between employees

With these training essentials, it will be easier than ever to meet your new hires’ needs and build a stronger workforce. Let’s get started! 

1. Evaluate current skills before you hire

Like practically every other operation in your business, the key to a successful training process is to prepare in advance. For your new staff, their training begins when they walk through the door for their first day on the job. For you, their training began as they were filling out their application for the position. 

Through the application and interview process, your hiring team gathers important information to decide whether or not a candidate will be a good fit for the position. However, this information can be used for more than just hiring—details such as how long a candidate has worked in this field, what they know about their new role, and other responses can help you to build training programs suited for each new employee. 

Throughout the hiring process, assess your candidates’ skills, past experiences, and problem-solving techniques. For example, you may test a candidate’s knowledge by asking how they’d handle a situation they could encounter on the job. This will make your onboarding process a cinch, as you’re already aware of the strengths, weaknesses, and field knowledge of your new hires before you put together their training materials. 

Utilizing background checks during the hiring process can also provide valuable insight about a candidate’s qualifications. For example, conducting an employment verification can confirm the information about prior work experience provided by the candidate is true and help you make confident hiring decisions for the most skilled, experienced candidates. Reference checks are also a helpful tool to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the position.

Of course, your candidates don’t need to be experts to get hired. Even a relatively inexperienced candidate could make a positive impact on your team if they have the right attitude, problem-solving skills, and determination to learn. Alternatively, an unmotivated but highly qualified candidate might not be the right choice for your team. While job knowledge can be taught, no amount of training can necessarily create a positive attitude and passion for the position. 

For these reasons, a thorough and holistic interview and screening process are very important. By assessing your applicant’s skills, you will have laid the groundwork for an efficient, targeted training process. 

2. Provide a training agenda

Starting a new position is challenging enough for new staff members. Make the transition easier by sharing an agenda that sets clear expectations and goals for your training process. 

With a training agenda, your new hires will know how to prepare for each stage of training, complete their assignments, and understand the parameters of what they’re being asked to do. Here are a few basic pieces of information that it should include:

  • Dates and times of any mandatory training. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at the number of businesses that expect new hires to walk through the front door and know exactly where to go and what to do. 
  • How to access e-learning activities. Online training services can boost retention and facilitate onboarding for remote workers. Be sure to provide clear instructions, including login details, so that your new employee can get started. 
  • When everything should be completed. Put dates on your skill objective checklists so that trainees can prioritize what they should learn first. Setting up this calendar system will also help their mentors facilitate lessons in a timely manner. 

You might also consider investing in software solutions to manage your day-to-day operations and assist with employee training. Background check and screening technology, e-learning and training software, and employee management services are all important resources that can help you to support your staff. 

3. Offer hands-on experience

Allowing new hires to perform hands-on activities helps them to better connect them with your work and retain their lessons. Studies show that while employees only retain around 5% of information administered through traditional learning, the retention rate for experiential learning falls between 80% to 90%. 

Of course, if you’re nervous about untrained new hires completing real, customer-facing tasks, implement these simple safety measures to protect your business from any potential mistakes: 

  • Assign a buddy or mentor to help guide your new employees through their tasks. Mentors provide new hires with tips and guidance in real time. On top of that, they can also increase employee engagement and serve as a relationship-building activity as they ease employees through the onboarding process. 
  • Use software to prevent human error. You can also protect your business from new hire mistakes with software solutions. For example, an integrated payment processor can reduce the room for human error that is associated with manual payment processing. When these smaller tasks are automatically taken care of, your new hire can focus on learning and carrying out the more important aspects of their new jobs. 
  • Provide a policy and procedure handbook for employees to reference. Company handbooks are far more specific than the training agendas you share with your new employees. These comprehensive manuals, which include employee roles, safety protocols, and commonly asked questions, will help your employees prevent mistakes before they happen and quickly resolve problems when they arise. 

Every business has its own unique challenges, procedures, and risks, and it can be nerve-wracking to hand over important responsibilities and tasks to someone new to the workplace. However, if your new employees are going to succeed in their roles, they need to dive in and really familiarize themselves with the job. These steps will allow your new employees to enjoy all benefits of experiential, hands-on learning while minimizing its risks. 

4. Build connections between employees

There’s far more to your business than just the work—your company culture greatly influences your new hire’s well-being. As new employees become more integrated into your business, make sure that they connect with the social side of your company. 

Don’t wait until the end of their training to build connections between your new and longtime employees. New hires should feel comfortable and excited to begin working with your team right when they clock in. Brighten the first day for new hires and foster employee community-building with these techniques: 

  • Plan ice-breakers.
  • Host team lunches during their first week.
  • Organize activities outside of work.
  • Offer a mentor program.
  • Encourage team volunteering.

With these strategies, you can build a stronger sense of camaraderie among your employees and improve their overall performance. Plus, having a close-knit team helps to impress customers and improve their experience at your business.


Effective onboarding and training can be a challenge for any business owner. Use these strategies to optimize the process so that your new hires feel prepared to begin their work as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

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