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Four Ways to Improve Employee Training

As more companies are forced to downsize, they are looking for ways for their staffs to pick up the slack. That means that remaining workers have to work smarterónot necessarily faster. It also means working in teams; making quick, effective decisions without going to a higher management level, recognizing problems and devising solutions, and pushing available technologies to the limit.

How can this be accomplished? Of course, it helps to hire qualified employees in the first place. But even the best and brightest employees may have some catching up to do. It may be necessary to implement a new training program for employees.

Of course, training methods change just as fast as everything else in the workplace. Here are four ways to keep workers up-to-date.

1. Classroom teaching can be an effective way to train workers, especially in more basic skill areas. Community colleges are often a good resource for companies. Almost all of them have evening classes, while many also hold classes early in the morning.

Frequently, these schools will work with your company to create specific courses for your employees and schedule them at off-hours. In some cases, the courses are given right on the business premises.

2. Consider audio and video tapes that enable employees to improve their skills at home or in the car. Besides providing flexibility, a tape may hold an employee's attention better than a classroom lecture.

Also, a videotape may demonstrate skill techniques, present information in a dramatic and meaningful way or highlight information by means of charts and graphs in ways that might not be easily done in a classroom. It can even bring an employee into a new facility before it is completed.

3. Computer-based training may also help employees improve certain skills. For example, some educational software companies have developed courses so employees can progress at their own pace. A course may even have a built-in examination which is graded by the computer on the spot.

4. One of the latest technological advances in training is the interactive video disk. Computers with CD drives and video cards, as well as home interactive video systems, can be used as powerful training tools. They are designed to combine some of the best aspects of classroom instruction, video­tape courses and computer-based educational software.

In effect, employees go one-on-one with the interactive course. The courses can truly be multimedia lessons, with text, graphics, voice, music, motion pictures, charts, graphs and animation aids added to the mix. Training progresses at the learning pace of each individual employee instead of a teacher's pace or the pace of the slowest learner.

Final point: Of course, there are numerous factors to consider, such as the skill level of your employees, their current duties and your expectations. Nevertheless, teaching your employees new skills can give you an advantage in today's competitive marketplace.

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