We can always do things better. (If we didn’t believe that, we’d still be using rocks for tools.) So it makes sense for employers to think about how to improve efficiency in business.
One way to improve efficiency in business is focusing on training. The more training people get, it stands to reason that they’ll get better at their jobs.
Training may not always be loads of fun for you or your employees. But it’s worth it when it leads to fewer problems, according to Richard Celler, an employment attorney based out of Davie, Florida.
“In addition to the inevitable efficiency gains,” he says, “well-trained employees are the first line of defense against costly workplace violations and legal missteps that can cost employers millions.”
Good training can do far more than improve efficiency in business—by making your company work better, you may save yourself from future headaches and heartbreak.
But knowing your workers need training and giving them the right training are two different things. So if you’re still trying to decide how to find a better way to train your employees so that your company runs more effectively, you may want to try these tactics.
1. Improve efficiency in business by looking for problems.
You probably know where your business needs more work, but maybe you don’t.
If you’re constantly reacting instead of being proactive, that’s probably a problem, suggests Nancy Friedman, president of the St. Louis-based customer service training company Telephone Doctor.
“For many companies, training employees isn’t a priority. Managers are so busy putting out daily fires that they fail to notice they are losing business by not servicing their customers,” says Friedman.
There are steps a company can take to make sure that you do notice before your CFO notices in the profit and loss statements.
You can survey your customers or clients, and make sure you’re inviting comments and complaints from employees as well (an unhappy staff can translate into poor customer service). You may be able to use mystery shoppers to rate experiences using your business. It helps to stay on top of how your customer service is faring.
“There is no question that training has a direct impact on employee efficiency and the success and sales of these companies,” says Friedman. “More business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than poor product.”
2. Remember to shape your training methods to your employees.
The workforce is getting younger, and many businesses have a fair share of millennial or Generation Z employees. The age of your employees can play a role in how you train them.
“People learn a very specific way and it is a fact that the millennial worker has different life experiences than previous generations like Boomer or Gen X,” says Sam Caucci, CEO and founder of training game platform 1Huddle.
You may want to offer training via laptops instead of in a classroom, Caucci suggests. But even desktop training is kind of outmoded, he says.
“We have a 21st-century workforce still using learning and training tools from the 1990s,” Caucci laments.
Caucci thinks that training using gamification is the way to go. It certainly is a popular trend. Even medical schools, according to the American Medical Association, have been utilizing the practice.
Utilizing augmented reality—where employees wear headsets to make them feel as if they’re in a specific training setting—can also be very effective for training.
To help improve efficiency in business, you have to make sure your training methods are keeping up with the times. If your training is more engaging and fun, chances are your employees are going to remember what they’re learning, rather than tune out the information.
3. Try to keep the training short.
If you can help it, you don’t want employees spending weeks in a classroom setting before you get them out into the workplace. Ideally, they’re out there sooner—and learning on the job through programs that help established employees train new ones, according to Rafael Solis, COO of Braidio, a social intelligence platform designed to create a smarter workplace.
You need to get employees out there working. And in some workplaces, like an office setting, you may have a new hire doing work right away. That’s because workers, as you know, are sticking around for less time than ever, points out Solis.
He also thinks training should be designed for employees to digest on their devices. All the better if the content is short, like “30 seconds to 1-2 minutes of learning bites that can be viewed while waiting for coffee or walking from one meeting to the next,” Solis says. (After all, our attention spans are shorter than ever.)
Of course, you might have employees who would be better served not reading material on a screen. But society is evolving, and companies’ teaching methods may need to evolve, too—especially if owners and management really want to improve efficiency in business.
“The modern business world is experiencing a sea of change in how employees learn and train,” Solis says.
4. Think of the training as an investment.
Vinnie Sposari, who owns a Mr. Rooter Plumbing in Seattle, pays $2,500 in training costs for his new plumbers to take Mr. Rooter’s “apprentice program,” in which novice plumbers learn their trade, or the “CITC Journeyman Refresher Course,” which he offers his veteran plumbers. (CITC stands for Construction Industry Training Council.)
“This is an investment on our part as we basically pay trainees to watch and learn [how to be a plumber] for about a year,” Sposari says. (During that year, the novice plumber is paid a salary.)
After a year, he has a qualified technician.
“On average, I would say 80 to 90 percent stay on for at least a year after being trained,” Sposari says.
It may seem like a lot of effort and money to find employees, but these days, it’s necessary. In an industry like plumbing, training can be crucial to attract and retain quality employees, Sposari says—especially in the case of locating younger workers, who aren’t pursuing careers in trade as much as previous generations did.
5. Be forgiving after the training is done, because mistakes will be made.
If you’re training people, you’re teaching them something new. And it won’t always stick, especially in the beginning.
“The management and leadership of the organization must know and understand that mistakes will be made and have a culture of acceptance,” says Gladys Boutwell, a certified insurance counselor and executive at WHA Insurance in Portland, Oregon.
“If mistakes are not accepted and seen as a way to improve the department, many mistakes will be covered up and more issues may arise,” Boutwell continues. “Accepting of mistakes is not about ‘being okay’ with them and doing nothing. It is about knowing that a mistake was made and having the associate be open about it without fear that they will be reprimanded.”
It’s understandable to want to insist on perfection. You want your company to be the best. But if you dole out punishments for those who sometimes blow it, you could be encouraging your employees to cover up their mistakes. Suddenly, you have employees running an operation that only looks like a well-oiled machine.
And remember, if your employees have problems after a seminar or workshop, it may not be your employees’ fault. They simply may need more information and better instruction.
So if you really want to improve efficiency in business, look at how you can advance your training. Employees rarely do badly when they are fully briefed, prepared and feel supported by their team.