Cost effective ways to train and educate your team members


It has been said that there are only two ways that a manager can improve a team’s output: motivation and training. Businesses need a more effective workforce during these tough economic times, but cost-cutting often prevents this from happening.
What is often overlooked is the return on investment: training may just give your business the boost it needs to survive and thrive.

The training process has the ability to mould your team’s thinking processes and, if done correctly, leads to top quality performance.

For training to be successful and not a waste of employee time and budget; these 10 tips should not be ignored:

1.    Use what you have at your disposal

Before enlisting external training consultants, consider creating an internal training module to communicate your basic expectations to the team. This will provide guidance and information on expected outcomes in the workplace.

2.    Create a learning environment

Encourage all forms of learning, as this creates a culture of personal development. This is especially effective when education and training is provided to ensure that training gaps and areas of improvement are identified and addressed accordingly.

3.    Embrace functional training

Tailor your training to relate specifically to your team’s key performance requirements. This can be as simple as a one-on-one session with a manager for the team member to understand the nuances within a business, to external multi-week skills development courses to improve technical knowledge.

4.    Encourage management to become trainers

Many managers are in their position because of their extensive knowledge base. Encouraging managers to impart their knowledge, from the business’s CEO all the way down to the junior managers, is an inexpensive and effective way to conduct training and boost your team’s drive and self-confidence.

5.    Implement technology training tools

The digital natives (Millennial generation) are accustomed to using technology to look up and reference information they need. Online courses will appeal to them, and they will also appreciate regular updates on changes in the industry. Encourage these team members to share the information they find with the rest of the company – another cost effective way of encouraging and utilising their thirst for knowledge to the benefit of the business.

6.    State the objectives of the training and expectations post-training

Be clear with your team on what you expect to deliver with training as well as what you expect from them afterwards. Behavioural objectives should clearly outline what they should know or do by the end of the programme.

7.    Keep it interesting – use multiple approaches

-    On the job training: training given to the colleagues within the everyday working environment.
-    Off the job training: training provided away from the actual working condition. It is generally used in cases where upskilling is required. Instances of off the job training methods are workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. This is more costly, and effective only if a large number of employees have to be trained within a short time period.
-    Active learning approach: In this approach, trainees play a leading role in learning by exploring issues and situational problems under the guidance of their facilitator. The trainees learn by asking thought provoking questions, searching for answers, and interpreting various observations made during the process.

8.    Optimise team strengths

Each team member has a unique skills set. Identify these and make other team members aware of them. Individuals who use their strengths everyday are more likely to be engaged on the job and less likely to leave their company. This also makes the team stronger and more productive.

9.    Provide guidelines for reference that can be used during and beyond training

Identify members of your team who are passionate about training and recording processes, procedures and other business critical information. Encourage them to create manuals and handbooks (sometimes in an electronic form) to instruct and guide new and existing team members on technical procedures, corporate policies, and information that is not intuitively obvious or easy to remember.

10.    Use the law to provide bursaries for employees

Bursaries and scholarships increase value for employers and employees by improving overall skills levels. Bursaries in general are a win for the employer and its employees:

- the employee is not taxed on the employer’s payment of the training costs to the training institution;
- the employer has happier, better-skilled employees, and the training costs are allowed as a tax deduction for the employer.

One of the most welcomed budget proposals is an increase in the fringe benefit tax exemption threshold for bursaries provided by the employer to employees and their relatives. The income eligibility threshold for the employee (in the case of a bursary for his relative) is proposed to be increased from R250 000 to R400 000.

Training doesn’t have to be time-consuming and expensive. During tough economic times, it is worth considering how you can upskill your team to enhance their performance. A good training strategy will help harmonise your skills base thus ensuring that your employees feel empowered to work on their own without constant help and supervision from others.

Sandra Swanepoel is the Managing Director at Sage HR & Payroll.

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