Owning your own small business truly is a labor of love. It demands your time, your energy, your ingenuity, and your resources. It means waking up every day both to the joy of doing what you love and the reality that it’s not only your family that’s depending on your success but also your staff and their families as well.

That’s a lot of pressure. And it probably feels like being frugal with your company resources is really the only way to protect your business and your staff while your work to grow your company. Investing in training and development might feel like a luxury when you’re still striving to make payroll and keep the lights on.

But if you truly want to see your business prosper and your staff flourish, funneling some of those precious resources into employee development is far and away one of the best ways to do it. This article will provide you with the most effective strategies for developing a robust employee training program for your small business—all without busting your budget.

Why It Matters

Studies show that one of the top causes of voluntary turnover is because employees either don’t feel challenged in their work or they don’t believe that their company is truly invested in them for the long haul. This is primarily due to the failure of management and leadership to construct a clear vision of the company culture and each employee’s individual role in that culture over the long-term.

The results of that failure of management can be devastating to a small business, detrimentally impacting overall productivity and performance and significantly hindering talent retention. According to current estimates, the loss of a single salaried employee costs the average mid-sized business up to nine months of the employee’s annual salary, typically around $30,000 of an average $40K salary.

If training and development can prevent the loss of even one of these employees per year, then chances are, you’ve more than recouped the costs.

The Importance of Management Training

One of the most significant challenges in developing a cost-effective training platform when resources are scarce is knowing where to begin. If you’re just beginning to integrate employee development into your small business model, then you should probably start with a focus on management training.

Not only is poor management a driving force in employee turnover, but it’s also a leading factor in productivity and performance issues. Making the efficacy of your leadership a top priority in your overall employee development strategy is not only going to improve employee morale and leadership, but it’s also going to make for a more efficient, engaged, and effective workforce overall.

Better still, it allows you to build a managerial staff that will, in turn, help to cultivate the next generation of leadership. In other words, investing in management training now will not only benefit your company for today but will also prepare it for a stronger, more prosperous tomorrow.

Sexual Harassment, Safety, and Security Training

In addition to offering professional development opportunities, it’s also important to provide regular training in important policies designed to protect your business and your employees. This should include training in cyber and data security policies, as well as in workplace health and safety standards.

And while you’re ensuring your employees are current on the laws, regulations, standards, and practices in place to protect your data and customers, you also need to take your employees on a deep dive into sexual harassment and discrimination laws. If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it’s that while positive changes have been made, there are still far too many American workers walking a thin line between appropriate and inappropriate workplace behavior.

Going Digital

Love today’s technology or hate it, if you’re a small business owner looking to integrate employee development into your business model, e-learning applications are probably going to be your best friend. The options for online training and development are virtually endless.

Thanks to digitization, your employees can complete degree, certification, and licensure programs online at lower costs. There are also a host of free online courses available from some of the world’s leading universities through programs such as Coursera. These can allow your employees to refresh or refine existing skills or acquire new ones at no cost to them–or you!

Calling in the Experts

As you expand your business’s training and development program, you’re likely going to need the help of experts. Fortunately, there are a number of different paths you can take. One of the most effective strategies is to develop an internal mentorship program in which more experienced staff provide skills training and mentoring to junior employees.

Likewise, recruiting a chief learning officer (CLO) to oversee internal training on a full or part-time basis can be the perfect way to harness the benefits of an employee development platform over the long term. These professionals combine industry expertise with advanced training in educational development to help you bring out the best in your employees for now and for years to come!

Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.

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