5 Thoughtful Ways To Improve Small Business Employee Training
Lack of career development is the second biggest reason (behind lack of flexibility) retail employees quit their jobs.
It’s simple (but not easy) to fix: Provide better training and career development.
But much of today’s training leaves employees disengaged and struggling to retain information. It’s time for a different approach.
This article highlights five thoughtful ways to improve small business employee training, so your team will feel engaged, ready to learn, and productive.
Small Business Employee Training: The Foundation
Training staff for your small retail business starts before an employee turns up for their first shift. Assuming employees will learn skills as they go isn’t the best move — everybody learns differently. Instead, you want to establish training fundamentals and invest in continual learning.
First, a solid onboarding process gets employees spun up on company culture, values, and standard operating procedures. Schedule an orientation that covers policies, technology, safety, and job expectations. Even better? Pair them with an experienced employee to smooth the transition.
Next, set expectations and goals around training. Employees should understand why training is essential, and what your desired outcomes are for their development. For example, you can explain that you want them to have better product knowledge. Or that you have a specific way they should address customers. If you don’t set expectations, they have less reason to take training seriously.
Last, training is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done deal. Give employees opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. If you invest in them, they’re more likely to stick around and feel supported in their growth.
If your onboarding and training process is lacking, consider the following points.
#1: Make Training Engaging
Nobody wants to watch a training video from the 80s, featuring a monotone voiceover and actors they can’t relate to. The same goes for falling asleep on thick training manuals. If you want to stimulate your employees, incorporate hands-on activities, games, visuals, and real-world scenarios.
Hands-on exercises let employees directly apply skills in a safe environment. For example, roleplaying common scenarios is a great way to train customer service skills.
Other ways to make training more engaging include:
- Use flow charts, diagrams, and videos to simplify complex topics
- Allow employees to use your point of sale (POS) system to practice inputting sample orders and processing transactions
- Gamify through quizzes and leaderboards
#2: Leverage Modern Technology
To fit modern lifestyles and learning preferences, lean on technology. From e-learning platforms to social media, small businesses can provide engaging education opportunities at any time, anywhere.
E-learning courses let employees access training modules on their phones or laptops. You can incorporate interactive elements like videos, quizzes, and immersive scenarios that bring concepts to life. Best of all, employees can do the courses remotely. Other ideas include:
- Live webinars where employees can ask questions and participate in polls or chat discussions. These are great if you have multiple stores, too, helping to connect employees across locations.
- Microlearning, where employees can receive bite-sized training through mobile apps and social media. Social learning helps concepts stick.
Leveraging the latest technology shows an investment in your employees’ development in the modern workplace.
#3: Personalize the Training Experience
Your workforce is diverse — from demographics to individual learning needs — and the most effective training programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Tailor the experience for each employee.
Some are visual learners and will prefer diagrams and charts. Others learn better through hands-on application. Again, one-on-one mentorship can help newcomers feel supported — and help individualize learning.
Last, track employees’ progress and milestones. Regular check-ins help new employees feel valued. Provide personalized feedback on their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Recognize their achievements and encourage areas for improvement.
#4: Encourage a Culture of Learning
Training needs to become ingrained in your workplace culture. Employees should feel empowered and motivated to upskill and continuously improve.
You could offer incentives and awards for participating in and completing training programs, such as:
- Monetary bonuses
- Additional PTO
- Gift cards
- Public recognition
- Flexible working hours
Let employees choose their learning path. They can identify skills they wish to build, classes to take, or trade shows they’d like to attend. There are always opportunities to expand skills and take on new challenges.
#5: Special Focus: Train Employees To Use Your Tools Effectively
If you want to empower your team, equip them with the right tools — and make sure they can use them! For a retail store owner, no tool is more important than a robust point of sale system. Training employees to use it efficiently is essential. Here’s how.
- Choose the right provider: You want a provider that offers a complete onboarding process that makes setting up your system easy. You should have a designated customer success manager who works with you to coordinate a POS training plan based on your unique needs.
- Look for ease of use: An intuitive interface, built-in help guides, and robust reporting will make training more simple. Training should cover POS navigation, common transactions, and key features like inventory and customer management. Let employees get hands-on practice ringing up sales and orders
- Tailor training for specific roles: Not every employee will use, or have access to, the same features. Show cashiers how to process purchases quickly while training managers on generating sales reports.
- Be patient and ask for feedback: Newer employees with less experience might struggle to learn the new system. Plan for this, and spend more time on those who need extra assistance. Schedule ongoing training and ask for feedback — employees will have questions once they start using the POS system live.
- Appoint a POS training lead: The POS training lead is responsible for being the main point of contact between your store and the POS vendor. They can communicate training updates to employees and management, and ensure team members are successfully onboarded.
Follow these tips to train your employees effectively. A well-trained team is in a better position to provide stellar customer service and drive your business forward.
Bonus Tips To Improve Small Business Employee Training
A few bonus tips to include in your training:
- Measure effectiveness: Much like in other areas of your business, you need to know your numbers. To gauge effectiveness, you should regularly measure progress against benchmarks, update materials, and collect feedback.
- Review your materials: Things change at a rapid pace, especially in the retail world. Whether it’s new updates to your POS system or different business objectives, ensure your staff knows what’s happening and add on training as necessary.
- Make training accessible: For a diverse workforce, creating an accessible and inclusive training program is essential. Every employee should have the opportunity and means to pursue development regardless of their schedule, language, or background.
With thoughtful planning, measuring results, and keeping your training program updated, you can make employee training effective and accessible to all.
Small Business Employee Training: A Long-Term Play
You won’t see the results of thoughtful training immediately. It requires an investment of time and resources, but the long-term benefits for your small business make it worth the effort.
As outlined, proper training pays dividends through increased productivity, higher efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, and greater employee retention.
At Comcash, we provide point of sale solutions for thousands of retail businesses. Our POS systems come with complete onboarding and training, and 24/7 support should you have any questions or concerns.
Schedule a demo with our retail experts to see for yourself!