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How to upskill employees in small business

In small businesses there is never enough time to learn new skills. Yet we all know we must improve our skills, if we want more success. While many owners of online stores have gone into overdrive due to Covid-19 with online orders hitting them from all sides, business has slowed down for others. If that’s you, now might be a good time for you and your staff to learn new skills. Especially if you are all working from home. Skills which might help you survive, or which will give you an edge, when things go back to normal.

If you can’t hire, train.

Finding the right people for your team can be time-consuming, difficult, and seemingly impossible if you aren’t able to provide a competitive salary. The trick? Taking people who tick almost all the boxes and who are invested in your culture, and taking the time to train them. Many balk at this – as small business owners, we hardly have the time to train all our recruits with the skills we so need them to have – but the good news is that we don’t have to be the ones who provide the training.

The copious amounts of learning online mean that business owners themselves don’t need to provide the training, or even understand what is being trained. For example, you could prescribe LinkedIn Learning or Udemy courses to your employees without needing to watch them yourself. After all, as the head of your company you don’t need to know every answer or process – you just need to be able to find problems and fix them.

How to implement training.

For just $25 a month you can access digital learning platforms such as Udemy and LinkedIn learning. In comparison to the price of hiring new talent, it’s nothing – and it can help improve your employee retainment and the health of your business.

No longer do you need to outsource expensive training and have teams visit your business to provide it: digital disruption means you can easily find what you need online, and assign it as needed.

But in order for digital learning to be successful, you need to ensure that you have a number of employee frameworks in place. These could include:

  • Making clear that taking courses is part of the job requirement, and not personal. This might make people more open to learning and engaging with the material. Set the expectation that all employees are recommended to watch at least 2 courses a year as part of their personal development.
  • Making learning part of the culture – something that is celebrated and makes people feel that they can progress in their careers and in the business .
  • Allocating a budget per employee for learning courses – and ensuring that they know they have the resource to tap into.

You can let employees learn one of two ways – firstly, by identifying problem areas in one-to-one meetings and guiding them towards learning that will help them round out their weaknesses, or by letting them proactively decide which knowledge would best help them succeed in their roles.

You can also prescribe general training courses on soft skills such as communication and teamwork to your entire team. Once your employees have completed courses, have them demonstrate their new skills with special projects, or by presenting on what they’ve learnt to the rest of the team.

Dedicated training days

On occasion, you might also find it valuable to invest in a day or two of onsite training which all your staff can take together. This could be on entrepreneurship, new technologies relevant to your industry, becoming and remaining agile or even just speakers from other businesses talking about how they manage their workloads and thrive.

This can help your team upskill and bond at the same time, and can be a great thing for them to look forward to and to break up the monotony of the working week.

- Lena Klein

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