Staff training. How many of you business owners out there have just groaned as I said that?!
As a business owner, it astounds me when I hear stories from staff members about never having been trained properly in a previous job.
They have been just thrown in the deep end, with a sink or swim mentality. The owner just hopes they are cluey enough, and care enough, to learn the ropes.
I had an old staff member come to me on Saturday, asking if we had any hours, as the job they left us for wasn’t working out.
She hadn’t been trained on anything in the store, just thrown in. The managers were now picking on her, as she doesn’t really know what to do. She has been there for 1 month and already wants to leave.
Our industry (retail) is often viewed as a stop gap industry, so staff turnover is high.
Staff come to us for a job while at uni for example. They aren’t in school to learn how to sell bread – this is what they do purely for cash while they are studying for their career.
We also mainly get people who are looking to supplement their families finances by getting a part time job. Like mums needing school hours shifts, or kids needing a job after school and on the weekends.
We have bakers who are learning a trade, so this is their career, but very few people like that out the front. So turnover is high and staff training is ongoing.
As a business owner, this can get very tiring, as you are saying the same thing over and over again. You also sometimes feel like you are putting this effort into training someone and they don’t stay long or don’t work out. And you have to start all over again.
I totally get this and there have been times when I get so frustrated about having to train a new person ‘again’! But you have to do it and do it well.
Here is why training them, even if they are only with us for a few weeks or months, is crucial.
1) They are your face. Serving your customers. They need to be good.
Ever been into a business where the person serving you either didn’t know what they were doing? Or didn’t care about what you needed? How did you feel about that experience? For sure frustrated and likely never wanting to go back again, as they have wasted your time.
This is how your customers feel when they are dealing with one of your staff that you haven’t trained properly. People are time poor, stressed and more likely than ever to quit a business after just one bad interaction.
You cannot afford to have poorly trained staff anywhere near your customers. If they have to interact with your customers, then at a minimum, they need to know how to serve them properly.
At best, they will deliver such great customer service that it makes it a no brainer to come back again.
This is your money riding on this and you need them trained to protect it.
2) Their care factor – staff judge you and your business in this day and age. If you don’t care about them, then they won’t care about you.
Young staff have absolutely no problem judging your business today. They will quickly decide whether they want to work there and leave if they don’t. Often to the point where they will quit via text or just disappear altogether.
As someone who was brought up to respect a boss, this is just mind blowing to me. But times have changed and we have to change with it.
People today are demanding that bosses treat them with respect and that is a great thing. The stories from the ‘old days’ where bosses treated people like crap and staff had to put up with it are gone. Or will be gone if they can’t employ people.
We show we care about our team by:
- Celebrating their birthdays
- Giving bonuses at Christmas
- Encouraging non contact on days off to have a mental health break from work
- Checking in with them to see if they are comfortable with things
- Asking if they want to learn new things
We want them to care enough about our business and our team that they:
- Show up (at all!)
- Show up on time
- Communicate with us about any sicknesses or events coming up so we can manage the roster for days off
- Treat our customers well when they serve them.
Aiming for a respectful relationship between the two of you we have found is the key here.
3) Longevity- it makes them stay.
This leads in from the previous point. By caring about their care factor, we have seen our staff turnover reduce.
Being a stop gap employment choice, it is common for people to stay for 3-6 months tops. They then move on when they feel like they are bored or a better opportunity comes along.
By showing that we care about our team, the lure of other businesses isn’t so great to make some of them want to leave.
We tend to get people staying for 12 months or more and moving on when they graduate from uni or high school.
They also hear the horror stories out there of bad bosses, crappy places to work and have friends hating their job.
If they see that they are valued, they are respected and they have opportunity to grow within your business, then they are likely to stay longer.
This increases your return on them, if you will, because you cut your staff training costs.
You get the mental break from having to train the basics all the time and can spend time on developing your people.
Or stepping back from the day to day, as your team has it covered and you can concentrate on growing your business.
4) Layers – staff can take on training other staff and get more opportunities for growth in your biz. It also gives you a way out of the day to day running.
Which then leads into my next point – having layers in your business. We are all about having multiple people able to do multiple jobs.
Only recently we had to cover 97 hours in one week, because 7 staff were out with COVID (read about that here)
Our 5th team member who knew how to do pies over lunch had to step up, because the other 4 were out! When does that ever happen?!
But it did and because we had multiple people knowing how to do the job, we could still operate, otherwise we would have had to shut down.
Layers in your business are critical. Have a training matrix of all the jobs that need to be done up in your business.
Regularly look at who can do what and continue to offer opportunities for staff to develop new skills to stay interested.
Get a copy of ours here and use it in your business.
You can then hand off the training of some of these jobs to the staff who know how to do them, freeing you from having to do it.
Now you have time to focus on other things in your business and your life, all because you have trained your team.
5) Liability – if they hurt themselves and you haven’t mitigated that risk, you’re screwed.
If having an up-levelled team isn’t enough of an incentive for you to spend the time training them, then this should.
If you don’t train your staff and they hurt themselves in your workplace, Worksafe (or the work safe body in your area) can investigate and if they find you liable, you can be screwed.
We subscribe to the Business Victoria newsletter and weekly we get emails of how they have taken such and such business to court and have fined them for unsafe workplace practices.
On the spot fines are one penalty Worksafe Inspectors can use since July 2021. You can read about those fines here:
There are also larger fines and jail time for more serious offences, like personal injury and death.
You are likely in business to grow an asset for yourself and your family. As a way to get ahead and have a legacy to either leave to them or to sell for cash.
If someone hurts themselves badly enough, then you can lose your business, your house or even face jail time as the employer. The buck ultimately stops with you.
Don’t put everything you have worked for at risk, just because you hate training.
At an absolute minimum, train staff properly on any risks in your business and have them sign off to say they were trained. Then you have something to cover you if you ever have an incident.
That does nothing for your customer service though and that can hurt you financially if they drive your customers away.
So you need to make sure that you train in the basics as a minimum. While they won’t knock your customers socks off with their service, they won’t drive them away either.
If you need help with training your team or putting layers in place, then we can help. Click here to schedule a time to chat with us about what support you need in your business and what products we have that can give you that support.
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