Imagine going to a doctor or specialist, and the last training he or she had was 10 years ago. Would you feel comfortable having him or her diagnose or – worse yet – complete a medical procedure on you?
Technology and education advance on what appears to be a weekly basis in some industries and the companies that remain on top of these changes are the successful ones. The direct route to this success? Continuous employee training, from the executive level down.
At Wakanow, an online traveling agency I created for people traveling to and from Africa, training for everyone on staff is an absolute must. The online travel industry is constantly changing, from technology used for booking to the various software platforms used to track your trip and restaurant reservations at your destination.
I’ve relied on employee training to keep up, and the following benefits highlight why this practice is needed for success in any industry. I’d argue these tips are absolutely vital for success, and I directly attribute them to one award I’ve received – Entrepreneur of the Year in the All Africa Business Leaders Award West Africa 2015. Here are the benefits that will make you consider training your staff more frequently.
Remaining Up-to-Date on Technology and Industry Changes
Technology and industries are always evolving but constant training keeps you and all employees up-to-date. Part of your training regimen should include a section on competitive analysis. This will not only provide an incentive for your employees to stay on the learning path but also for you as the business owner.
At Wakanow, part of every training session involves a “what’s new” with our closest competitors. You must strive to not only stay competitive but also stay ahead of those in your space – especially the ones leading the charge. Besides having employees themselves research competitors, make it part of the training; it’s simply more efficient and effective.
Increased Employee Focus and Productivity
Training naturally sharpens focus, which has the best possible byproduct for any business, especially a startup: productivity. From my experience, the best training for focus is time management. I’d recommend making time management training one of the most important ones of the year, and revisit the training every six months or so.
During the startup phase of Wakanow, I began relying more and more on time management training, which has drastically increased productivity due to the stronger focus from my leadership teams and their respective employees.
Less Supervision and Less Turnover
This is simple. More training equals less supervision and less turnover. When leaders can focus more on product or process over leadership, productivity will also amp up in all aspects of the business. And less turnover is always key to long-term success. Companies with high turnover rates should not point fingers at every employee. Good leaders take on responsibility, and if they learn to provide continuous training, that turnover rate will surely decrease.
More Efficiency and a Better Bottom Line
Well-trained employees are going to be more efficient at their respective jobs, which moves tasks quicker through the system. And the more work moved means more open doors for more clients. This all equates to scalability, which in turn grows the bottom line. It only took a few weeks for Wakanow to start reaping the benefits of our training programs, which began with time management. Efficiency – something we struggled with in the beginning – ascended, followed by growth of our bottom line.
Employees who are continuously trained and learning will naturally have increased morale and a love for their jobs. Education is the root of everything, and the more knowledge employees are equipped with, the more capable they will be in accomplishing their own personal goals.
This also makes it easier for team leaders to offer promotions to those willing to learn and who do nothing but good for the company. But those who are unwilling to learn after continuous training will obviously be the weak links, and they’re easy to point out. This can lead to demotions or off-boarding employees. Don’t worry – there is always someone else hungry to learn and thrive in your business. At Wakanow, we pay close attention to the outcomes of our training programs; it helps strengthen the team by either losing slack or promoting energy.
Using Your Good Company Image to Attract Talent
Think of web developers for a second – where do nearly all of them want to work? Google or Facebook would likely be the answer, considering these companies have established a reputation for being the place to not only work but advance. This is all based on the intensive training programs that these types of companies have. Make your company the Google or Facebook of your industry by continuous training, and not only will all employees benefit, but the business will also attract talent that is hungry for promotion and growth.
Again, take the doctor example I provided, and put it towards your industry. Would someone really want to hire a web development agency that is using yesteryear’s platforms? Or an untrained dentist? Or a travel agency that didn’t provide a means for hotel reservations? Continuous training is the underlying root to most problems at struggling companies; rely on it and you’ll quickly see the difference.
Author: Obinna Ekezie is the co-founder and CEO of Wakanow.com, the leading full-service, inbound and outbound online travel company in Africa.