Building Employee Training in a Growing Startup

To transform your staff into a dream team of innovation, you need your players to be in top form. And, just like in sports, there are three things that will get them to peak performance: training, training and training.

Why Training Matters

Hiring people with the right background is important, but what’s critical is their willingness—and ability—to learn, adapt and grow. After all, every business is different, requiring its own special cocktail of skills that no one can be expected to fully master beforehand. When you’re on boarding new recruits, it’s your job to ensure they receive the training needed to fully maximize their roles—and their potential. Training never ends. Even the most seasoned employees need training and career development opportunities to maximize their potential and feel satisfied in their job.

“Just as employees invest themselves in a company to make it better, the best companies also invest in their employees to make them better,” says Brad Geddes, trainer, author.

According to Geddes, “When a company openly invests in its employees, it can help with recruiting top talent and then keeping that talent.” This is because while training serves the practical end of enhancing employee performance, it’s also seen as an intrinsic reward that increases job satisfaction, leading to higher productivity and lower turnover.

Taking Time to Train

For startups, the greatest enemy of workplace training programs is time. In the fast pace of conducting day-to-day business, risking operational delays in the interest of training may feel like an impossible proposition. But, if implemented properly, training frees up employees to integrate more innovative thinking and implement new processes in their work. With insights on up-to-date methods or technologies, they may also find ways that certain tasks can be completed more efficiently, freeing up time to focus on other high-value areas.

Training also provides employees with the tools, competence and—crucially—the confidence to innovate, rather than relying on a standardized method or procedure. Finally, training builds up a valuable store of in-house knowledge, which has a positive multiplier effect: an enterprise full of trained employees creates an atmosphere of excellence, which in turn leads to higher levels of productivity, which in turn creates greater possibilities for training. And so on.

For these reasons, Geddes recommends offering training or education as a workplace benefit. “Just as employees accrue vacation and sick time,” he says, “so should they be able to acquire training time.” For businesses on a budget, a bonus is that this benefit can be a free or low-cost option—an easy way to make you look great in your employees’ eyes.

Tips  for Training on a Budget

Speaking of budgets, the absence of funds should not deter you from offering your employees training and education. If you’re looking for low-cost options, Geddes offers these six inexpensive ways to get knowledge flowing:

  1. Online courses. Many of these are free or inexpensive, and can be fit into the most diverse schedules. Check out The Learning Tree, Biz Library, or the Business Training Institute
  2. Continuing education. Local colleges, schools and libraries offer a variety of courses in practical skills applicable to the business world, including accounting, marketing and software.
  3. Industry Groups and Associations. For a small fee, trade groups open up a variety of training-related and networking options for your staff. As a side benefit, attending these groups can also leads to new sales or partnering opportunities.
  4. Mentoring. By pairing up an experienced hand with a fresh face, company-specific skills can be shared, creating an in-house store of knowledge and encouraging team bonding.
  5. Cross-training. When employees train each other in how to do their jobs, each person learns new skills while making the company more resilient. Cross-training also allows employees to practice taking on leadership roles—an important step in their career development.
  6. Lunch-and-learns. Break out the pizza each month and have one member teach the group a skill or explain how their department operates.

Training for Profit

Training need not be an expensive proposition. By means of the above methods, small businesses can harness a range of inside and outside resources for effective employee training—before even turning to outside consultants. And for small-business owners who might still be wondering whether training is worth the cost, Brad Geddes is clear: “Employees are hired to make the company more successful; in the end, they are the ones who make a company great. Investing in employees has direct corporate benefits.”

Low-cost employee training that helps with both talent retention and profits? That’s what we call a home ColLife

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Walmart to make first direct pitch to big corporate ad buyers at New York event.
The event marks Walmart’s first effort to grow its nascent advertising business and heralds the retailer’s rising challenge to online ad leaders Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Walmart will meet large consumer goods companies and advertising firms for the first time in New York next week to pitch its advertising business, as the world’s largest retailer aims to rev up its website and stores as a platform for other companies to reach customers.

The event marks Walmart’s first effort to grow its nascent advertising business and heralds the retailer’s rising challenge to online ad leaders Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The event, called "5260," is named after a Walmart store near the retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, which is known for being a test lab for retail innovation, Walmart told Reuters.

It is likely to be attended by hundreds of companies ranging from Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Coca Cola to Mattel, Glaxosmithkline and NBC Universal, multiple sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The country’s top marketing and advertising firms are also likely to be in attendance, the sources, who did not wish to be named, added. Walmart declined to name the attendees.

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Walmart’s pitch will be simple: encourage some of the biggest advertisers to shift their spending to Walmart and away from rivals like Google, Facebook and Amazon. And Walmart says that its massive customer base and data on what shoppers purchase give it a compelling edge.

As consumer behavior has shifted, a growing number of shoppers now begin their product searches on Amazon instead of Google, forcing companies to move their ad budgets to Amazon – a significant change that bodes well for Walmart.

Walmart heralded its ambitions at its shareholder meeting last year when Chief Executive Doug McMillon said, "We have a tiny ad business … It could be bigger."

Since then, Walmart has bought its website advertising in-house, consolidated ad sales for its stores and website under the Walmart Media Group and acquired a startup called Polymorph Labs to boost the business.

The move could help Walmart shore up sales and margins at a time when revenue is likely to come under stress from tariffs on Chinese imports, and margins are under pressure from its billions of dollars in e-commerce investments.

Stefanie Jay, vice president and general manager of Walmart Media Group, told Reuters the company’s "core differentiator" is that its ad offerings are informed not just by online purchase behavior and intent but also by data on what people are buying in stores before and after they see an ad, something its online rivals are unable to see.

Eighty-seven percent of shopping in the United States still happens in stores, she said.

Over 300 million customers visit Walmart’s stores every month, and over 300 million shopped with Walmart online as recently as January, drawing in more shoppers than Amazon, Google and Facebook, according to research firms. "Advertisers are always looking for that complete picture to better understand where they should spend their ad dollars," Jay said.

Walmart’s ad offerings will include sponsored search and display ads, which drive awareness and engagement. Jay said Walmart will add video ads this year.

Along with Jay, other senior Walmart executives attending the event include Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer; Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer; and Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S.

The opportunity for Walmart will be capitalizing on the share Google is losing, consultants said. Although spending on Google search ads continues to grow and is expected to be up 17% this year to $40 billion, Google’s market share is expected to slip to 71% by 2020 as Amazon grows, according to research firm Marketer.

Even so, Walmart faces an uphill task.

Beyond search ads, Amazon offers display ads, TV-like ads in live sports telecasts and targeted ads to people as they travel around the web.

Amazon’s global digital ad revenue is expected to rise by more than 52% in 2019 to reach $14.03 billion, according to eMarketer. Pivotal Research estimates it will reach $38 billion by 2023.

In the United States, Amazon is the third-largest digital ad publisher behind Google and Facebook, which combined control about 60% of U.S. online ad spending. Amazon’s share is 5.5%. See MoreSee Less

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