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Survive and Thrive in the New Millennium with Employee Training
By Eileen O. Brownell   Printer Friendly Version

"The secret to success is doing the best that you can do. By working hard and practicing the skills that you need to perform, the results will take care of themselves."
-Barbara Ann Cochran

The success of your business is measured by the quality of services and products you provide to your customers. If employees are not properly trained to create or provide the services or product your organization specializes in, how will your company ever grow? Business researchers indicated in a recent Nation's Business article that at present, the average American business spends about one percent of their payroll on employee training. To compete successfully in the 21st century, however, will require businesses to expend closer to three percent of their payroll on training.

When the three percent guideline is examined closer, it means that for every eight hours worked, an employee needs to receive a minimum of 14 minutes of training. In a part-time work week consisting of 20 hours, 36 minutes needs to be devoted to staff training. That equals a total of 62 hours annually. Impossible you say! How will I ever find the time or money to train staff that well? Lets say your average part-time entry-level employee makes $10 an hour. Expending 36 minutes each week to perfect the employees work skills will cost only $5.98 a week or a total of $300 a year. When you consider how much you expend to obtain new customers and to market your business, staff training is a minor expenditure. After all, a positive, well-trained staff is your best marketing tool.

In an annual study conducted by Olsten Staffing Services, companies in the United States continued to report major deficiencies between desirable employee skill levels and existing skill levels. An under or poorly trained staff results in communication problems, loss of customers, and greater hours expended to complete tasks. All of these problems are costly and unnecessary. Lets examine some of the benefits and reasons why you may want to consider revamping and extending your existing employee training program.

  • Builds confidence. Although confidence is an inside job, training programs build skills, provide resources and enables employees to respond to the customers needs better. All of these add up to greater confidence for the employee in challenging situations.
  • Improves employee effectiveness. Training programs allow the employees to practice interpersonal skills, make mistakes and receive feedback in a safe environment. When an employee makes a mistake with a customer, it can be costly. Training allows staff to develop necessary job skills without fear of reprisal.
  • Establishes company work standards. No two employees are exactly alike. Everyone will come to your organization with varying work standards. A company run training program can establish acceptable work standards and behavior from the very beginning of the employment cycle and help to make the employee more effective sooner.
  • Builds employee morale. Time spent on training indicates you value the employee so much that you are willing to invest in their professional growth. It further implies that you want the employee to be an integral part of the success process for your organization. Employees feel better about themselves, the organization, and their coworkers when they know management cares about them.
  • Improves communications. During the training process, participants have the opportunity to ask questions regarding concerns that may be overlooked in the daily operations. Training programs frequently begin a dialog process that may not have occurred otherwise. The training process also allows management to discover individuals and total team skill levels. This allows management to establish future training needs and programs.
  • Creates a team-building environment. When individuals from different groups within the organization gather for training, it allows them to create stronger inter-organization relationships. Additionally the training environment provides the opportunity to share common concerns, problems and ideas. People often discover they are not alone in their skill levels or workplace issues.
  • Increases problem solving abilities. People who are well trained are able to think on their feet faster. They are also apt to have a greater network and knowledge of resources to help them solve problems. Front line staff that is able to address customer concerns on the spot save management time and the organization money.
  • Reduces customer and employee complaints. A well-trained staff is able to satisfy the customers needs faster and more efficiently. When staff is well trained, there are fewer customer complaints. Employees also have the skills to resolve conflict and communicate better. Optimum skill levels allow employees to resolve their own conflicts and decreases managements need to be involved in employee disagreements.
  • Strengthens existing skills. Every time an individual receives customer service, communications, leadership or basically any kind of training, it helps to strengthen and enhance existing skill levels. If people do not immediately practice and use what they have learned in a training program, virtually all but 10% of the information presented is forgotten within six weeks. Regular reviews of the information helps to reinforce and enhance existing skills. This also aids in building confidence within the employees and helps to make them more effective.
  • Indicates company's commitment to optimum performance standards. Whether it's a safety program or a computer class, the information presented during the training process establishes the organizations expected employee performance level. Regularly scheduled training programs serve to reinforce and provide an example of an organization=s standards and expectations.
  • Airs feelings and challenges. Frequently issues will arise during the training process that may not surface in a normal work setting. Staff has the opportunity to express concerns, fears and indicate challenges they feel need to be resolved in order for the organization to move forward. Workshops and training session can provide a safe environment for staff to express themselves without fear of retaliation.
  • Serves as an ongoing advertisement for your customers. Staff training demonstrates to your customers you want to provide the best possible service and products. When customers feel they are getting the very best because you are willing to invest in your staff, it serves as an advertisement for quality.

Employees will receive training from your organization the moment they walk through your doors for the first time. They will either selectively learn on the job from the examples set by other employees or you can train them in an environment where the topics are well thought out and enhance your company standards. The end result of a well-trained staff is lower employee turnover and higher morale. Both affect how your employees will serve your customers and your bottom line. A company is only as good as it=s weakest link. A consistently well-trained staff will help your company to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

For permission to print Survive and Thrive in the New Millennium with Employee Training in your company newsletter or professional journal, contact Eileen.

Copyright © 1999 Eileen O. Brownell. All Rights Reserved.

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