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October 26, 2021

Staff Training for Small Businesses: 4 Tips to Improve the Process

Checkr Editorial

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, you also know that 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 future success. 

No matter if you run a barbershop, a karate dojo, or a pet daycare business, all business owners 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 for you to meet your new hires’ needs, put them on the fast track to success, and seamlessly integrate them into the business culture. 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 your business’s hiring process, be sure to 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. 

Of course, your candidates don’t need to be experts to get hired. Skills and job knowledge are only a piece of the equation for the hiring and training process. 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 a passion for the position. 

For these reasons, a thorough and holistic interview and screening process is 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 already challenging enough for new staff members. Make the transition easier on them by sharing an agenda that sets clear expectations and goals for your training process. 

You might think of your training agenda like a class syllabus—it is critical for your new hires to begin their training on the right foot. With this agenda, your new hires can prepare for each stage of training, complete their assignments in a timely manner, and understand the parameters of what they’re being asked to do. 

Here are a few basic pieces of information to include in your training agenda:

  • 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. Many organizations opt for e-learning services to optimize their traditional training programs, and it’s no wonder. According to this Artisan E-Learning guide, online training programs can boost the mental retention of learning objectives and facilitate training for employees who may be spread across far distances. 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. On top of that, setting up a calendar system for their learning goals can help their mentors facilitate lessons in a timely manner. 

Just as you need to have effective hiring technology to successfully recruit and screen your candidates, you might also consider investing in software solutions to manage your day-to-day tasks 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

It’s one thing to tell your new employee how to perform necessary tasks, but it’s another thing entirely to let them try it themselves. 

Hands-on activities increase the probability that staff members will retain your training lessons while allowing them to learn important skills more quickly. Studies show that while employees only retain around 5% of information administered through traditional learning, the retention rate for experiential learning falls between over 80% to 90%. 

Giving your employees the opportunity to actually perform tasks better connects them with the work, improves their performance, and nails in those essential skills. 

Of course, if you’re nervous about untrained new hires completing real 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. These aids can give your new hires tips and corrections in real-time. On top of that, they can also increase employee engagement by providing a team and relationship-building activity as buddies ease new employees through new challenges. 
  • 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. With the payment process and other small, finer tasks automatically taken care of, your new hire can focus on learning and carrying out the more important aspects of their new jobs with guided aid. 
  • Provide a policy and procedure handbook for employees to reference. Company handbooks are far more specific than the training agendas you will share with your new employees. These are comprehensive manuals on the ins and outs of employee roles, your business’s best practices, safety protocols, commonly asked questions, and what to do when something goes wrong. Providing a handbook 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 this 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 and the relationships between your employees greatly influence your new hire’s well-being. As new employees become more integrated into your business, make sure that they also connect with this 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.

These strategies not only create a solid sense of community and team spirit for your employees, but they also improve your team’s communication, efficiency, and overall performance. 

For example, this Gingr guide on how to wow your customers cites organization and a friendly, dynamic staff as major contributors to a positive customer experience. Your customers will be able to feel the dynamic between your employees, and they will likely enjoy their experience more if that dynamic is positive! 

Conclusion

Effectively onboarding new hires into a brand new role is a challenge for any business owner. But with these intuitive strategies, your organization can optimize the training process so that your new hires feel prepared to begin their work as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

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