When you're running a small business, your approach to employee training may end up being "learn as you go." It's tough to break away from the day-to-day operations and make the time to properly train and acclimate a new staff member to your company, but without this guidance, your employees might get lost in the shuffle.
"In small companies, it's really important for employees to know [what they're doing]," said Robin Jarvis, principal of HR solutions provider R.L. Jarvis & Associates. "If you want to keep your new hires, you have to make them feel the way you feel about your company. [Training] is more than basic blocking and tackling. It's also explaining what the company is doing and why you want them to be a part of it."
Even if you don't have a formal employee training program, you should still have some procedures in place to help new staff members feel welcome and get the most out of their time at your company. Hiring experts and business executives shared some advice for small business owners on training your employees well from their very first day on the job. [5 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover]
Utilize your current employees
When you have just three or four employees, it's not that hard to be involved in each staff member's training. But once your business begins to grow, you may find that you no longer have the time to supervise new hires directly in addition to managing the company. While you should spend some time getting to know your staff, don't be afraid to delegate some of the smaller training elements to trusted existing employees.
"The best resources a smaller business can utilize [for training] are its current employees," said Mark Newman, CEO of video recruiting platform HireVue. "They can provide helpful tips and tricks that will help bring the new hire up to speed, and aren't built into training programs."
When you are bringing on a new hire, make sure your current employees treat him or her with a friendly and helpful attitude, and are patient while being asked questions during the first few weeks, Newman said. For a more hands-on approach to training, you can also pair up new and veteran employees in order to tackle new challenges.
"We are constantly challenging our employees to do new things," said Donna Novitsky, CEO of digital gift voucher platform Yiftee. "We have no formal training programs, but we often work in pairs or teams to research new things and figure them out."
Be aware of generational differences
As the workforce becomes increasingly multigenerational, employers will have to face the fact that each age group has a distinct set of working habits. Catering to those generational differences will ensure that your employees are learning in a way that best suits them.
"Millennials are coming of age during a very different time than Gen X and baby boomers, and respond differently to training tactics," Newman told Business News Daily. "Harness [Gen Y's] tendency to engage with technology by offering online resources that offer additional training. Also, millennials crave feedback and advice, so help coach them throughout the training process so they feel engaged, and whenever possible, give positive feedback."
"Often, [companies] will pay a lot of money for professional training, and [employees] end up sitting in a big meeting room watching a lecture," added Jason Rivera, CEO of salon franchise Phenix Salon Suites. "That's a death sentence for millennial brains. Our philosophy is to engage our people at the level they perform best at, and provide complementary education that will assist them to become the best they can be."
Encourage employees to want to learn more
One of the most important things a small business can do is to hire resourceful self-starters who will go after the information and answers themselves, Rivera said. Training an employee who is truly willing to learn makes the process much simpler, but bringing that out in a new hire requires the right approach.
"People have a natural desire to learn and to contribute to the organization," Novitsky said. "If you make clear that they are playing an important role, [and you define] what that role is and what the big-picture goals are, employees will naturally find ways to contribute. Then, the learning is self-motivated."
Encouraging this self-motivated learning begins with identifying your new employees' unique individual strengths and interests. Rivera noted that once you understand and recognize what talents individuals offer, it's much easier to train employees in the areas that already interest them.
The early days of an employee's new job are the most formative, and if you handle that initial period well, you're more likely to get them to stick around.
"Make your first 90 days with a new employee count," Jarvis said. "Really bring them into the company and give them a chance to have some small successes."
Originally published on Business News Daily.