As small businesses struggle to attract and retain a skilled workforce, employee training and development is more important than ever.
Yet, working with small manufacturers across the country, we know that time and budget are often in short supply.
Cost of Turnover
According to Training Magazine’s 2022 Training Industry Report, average training expenditures for small companies rose from $341,505 to $368,891 last year. In this study, total training spending includes training budgets, technology spending, and staff salaries.
Of course, you may think small companies with fewer employees and smaller budgets don’t need formal training. But consider the high cost of employee turnover. Have you replaced the same machine operator four times in the last six months?
That’s a big financial loss when you look at expenses related to recruiting, onboarding, training, and repeating the process all over again. (Read our white paper, “The True Cost of Turnover.”)
Developing people for today and tomorrow goes hand in hand with continuous improvement, taking on more business and implementing productivity enhancements. Turnover puts this progress in jeopardy. It also means the loss of valuable embedded knowledge. These losses translate into financial losses, such as machine downtime, safety issues, scrap, and limited business capacity.
The bottom line is that relentless turnover is threatening productivity and profitability. Doing nothing is not an option. It’s time to act.
Quick & Easy Training Best Practices
So, what is the best way to onboard and prepare your new hires and upskill your incumbent workers quickly and easily? Here are five ways to create a culture of high performers with limited time and money.
- Accelerate Competency with a Learning Culture.
Building a company-wide learning culture around the idea that everyone must be engaged and always learning—whether that means new technology or new approaches—saves you valuable time. It focuses everyone on one mission. From day one, employees learn that continuous improvement drives the business and their careers forward. A formal, standardized training program with on-the-job training (OJT) reinforces this learning culture. It brings consistent and efficient training to your organization, building competency more quickly than through ad hoc learning. Because a successful learning culture ties directly to business impacts, it is clear why companies that have a strong culture in place tend to significantly outperform their peers.
- Create a Focused Plan Tied to Specific Current/Future Needs.
A few hours of planning up front annually can save you significant time later because you are building training to fit specific business needs and gaps. What are your goals and expected challenges three to five years from now? Perhaps a critical maintenance supervisor is retiring. Build in steps now to ensure you have a well-trained employee to fill the role. Looking ahead allows you to approach development in a focused, realistic way, ensuring new and existing employees stay motivated and engaged. Remember, standardization is the key to developing employees quickly, consistently, and according to work instructions—without remaking the wheel with each new hire.
- Spread Out Training Responsibilities.
In a small organization, you may not have a dedicated trainer. Learning and development responsibilities may need to be shared. Consider assigning different training roles to several employees. Outline expectations in your plan and communicate them clearly. This approach distributes the workload and allows these individuals to share their expertise and feel good about their contribution to developing colleagues.
- Don’t Overtrain.
Assessments help you better understand your workforce and elevate team members more quickly by offering a clear path of improvement. Every employee has different learning needs. Define realistic training outcomes for new hires or 30-year vets, train towards those outcomes, and continue development overtime to achieve the ultimate goal. Give them credit for prior learning, accelerating time to competency and reducing trainee frustration. For instance, one new employee may know how to read a blueprint while another will need a class to fill that knowledge gap.
- Adopt Online Learning.
eLearning provides a quick-start pathway to competency, offering flexible learning options. You can deliver training 24/7 to any device desktop, tablet, or phone. (And what Gen Z new hire doesn’t expect to access training on their phone?) To simplify the training process for manufacturers, at Tooling U-SME, we have predefined training packages that require little oversight, covering a broad variety of manufacturing topics, such as machining, maintenance, welding and more. These are validated to real job roles, ensuring your employees get the knowledge they need. Easy reporting and administration are other benefits of online training. You can easily track learner progress through a Learning Management System (LMS). This also streamlines reporting for ISO compliance.
Cost-Effective Training Help for Small Manufacturers
The need for a skilled workforce is one of the most significant challenges to manufacturing’s future growth and prosperity. No matter the size of an organization, a commitment to learning and development can greatly impact your employees, your company, and the country.
We are always available to talk with you about ways to develop your workforce that can accommodate resource challenges. Our pre-defined online classes for manufacturing job roles including in-demand production positions, may be the answer. Contact Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665 or learn more about our training packages.