Technology is changing at a rapid rate, and with it, the way that small businesses stay relevant. The days of being able to open a mom’n’pop shop on the corner with an old time cash register and turn a profit are, for better or worse, largely behind us. Today, small businesses need to think like a big business almost right off the bat. Tools like social media, blogging, online marketing, and outreach are not only beneficial, they’re essential to succeed in the global marketplace.
One aspect that small businesses don’t tend to focus on early in their history is employee training. Since most small businesses start with as few as one person to a dozen people, as your business grows, and you should want it to, you’ll need to hire more employees, and this means they’ll need training.
But what can you do? If you’re a small business owner, 90% of your work day is spent just keeping your business alive and thriving. You probably don’t have a lot of extra time, especially when it comes to training new employees. But new employees will sooner or later become something you’ll have to, indeed, should want to, incorporate. One option you should consider that will allow you to seamlessly integrate your new hires, keep you current employees’ skills relevant, and not break your bank, is a learning management system.
A learning management system (LMS), in layman’s terms, is a software-based program that allows you to plan, teach and assess your training program digitally. This allows learning to be delivered at a distance through an eLearning platform.
This means your employees have a lot more choices when it comes to how, when, and where they complete training. Providing employees with this type of initial or ongoing training option has many advantages. Here are the five best things about learning management systems for small business.
Learning is Flexible
The eLearning platform means your employees can engage in training anytime and anywhere. Even if you have remote employees, they get the same training and education as those who are in your office. The LMS also frees up your time, and saves money on infrastructure, classroom times, and even equipment.
This also eliminates some of the frequent obstacles that arise in scheduling. It is often hard to pull everyone on a team together at the same time who needs a certain type of instruction. The flexibility enabled by an LMS is invaluable.
Learning is Self-Paced
Depending on where they are in their careers and the knowledge they already possess, certain employees will absorb information right away. It may not even be difficult for them, and depending on their learning style and the way material is presented, a simple run through might suffice.
However, you might have someone who is new to your industry or even who just learns things differently. Bite sized pieces, absorbed and then applied, might work better for them. When you simply teach a class, you often have to try to hit the middle. If you adapt for the slowest, newest person others in the class may be bored and disengage, missing key components of training they actually need.
If you teach at a faster pace, you may leave other employees behind, missing opportunities for them to learn but also making them feel undervalued and underappreciated. If they feel they don’t understand their jobs as well, they may never approach you for help, but instead try to push through, often making critical errors.
The self-paced nature of learning management systems eases this pain point, and lets employees work through training at a pace and at a time that works for them.
You Choose Your Team’s Focus
An LMS, instead of just being a generic software application lets you focus your team on the things they need to learn. The applications can be tailored for a team, an individual, and then companywide courses and goals. The flexibility in building courses is another advantage for you as an employer.
Think of things this way. If you have a new hire and an experienced member of the team, even when new technology becomes available or you change software providers, each will need a different kind of training based on where they are with the company and the technology you are using.
Being able to choose a focus and skill level means you don’t have to just offer generic training, but you can offer a personalized experience for each employee and team.
Employees are Happier
Employees who are well trained and educated are in general happier. Not only do they feel more valued and competent in their jobs, but there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with work. The result is that they are more satisfied overall.
It is rare that an employee feels comfortable in their position, does not want to advance or be trained, and simply wants to do the same job for the rest of their careers. Usually there is a drive to learn and do something new, and the more you feed that drive, the better your employees will perform.
In addition, your employee retention numbers will reflect this as well. Happier employees don’t look for other jobs and are less tempted by offers from other companies, including your competitors. This is one of the biggest benefits of an LMS for a small business.
Customer Service Improves
Finally, happier, better trained employees mean your customer also has a better experience. Bored employees or those with attitude problems drive customers away. Although sometimes acting does work, in the long run a company culture and attitude show through, and customers see who and what they are dealing with.
The sincerer you are, the better trained employees are, and the greater your overall company expertise, the fewer mistakes you will make, and the more satisfied your customers will be overall. Customer service is more than just a choice, it also relates to knowledge, understanding, and empathy.
The knowledge gained from a well-developed LMS will help your employees operate more efficiently and can dramatically impact customer service.
There are many other things that are great about a learning management system for small business. These are simply the five best. If you don’t have one already, today is the day to develop an LMS plan for your company.