1. Join Associations or Trade GroupsThese organizations likely have training, conferences, seminars, and certification opportunities that are included in membership, and many of these groups have local chapters that hold regular meetings. These meetings often have speakers who provide attendees with excellent learning experiences. If you can’t send more than one staff person to these meetings, send a motivated employee. Then have him or her stage a training session for the other employees based on what was learned. Associations also may have e-newsletters, e-zines, and free or low-cost webinars to keep members up-to-date on skills and ensure that they are better informed about the latest and greatest in their fields.
2. Lunch and LearnAlmost everyone takes time for lunch, so why not once a month, host a brown-bag event where an employee comes prepared to talk about a topic? Employees rarely know much about what each other’s individual responsibilities within the organization, so this is a great opportunity to educate the wider team.
3. Book ClubAsk employees to read a book on a topic that will help the organization. Lead a lunch meeting where everyone can discuss the book and how he or she can use what was learned on the job.
4. Start a Mentorship ProgramPair a senior employee with a novice. Encourage sharing to ensure that the knowledge and experience of the senior employee is passed on.
5. In-house TrainersHave employees attend classes/conferences and come back prepared to share what they have learned. Select employees who are comfortable presenting to others.
6. Cross-trainAs much as possible, have employees cross-train each other on how to do their jobs. This creates an educated, agile workforce. Plus, the organization will benefit by having backup when one employee is out sick or on vacation.
7. Leverage Social MediaThere are many social media tools that can be used for training at no or low cost. For social media to be effective as a learning venue, it is important to create a written social media policy that all employees read and sign. Once employees are clear on what is acceptable and unacceptable, social media can be a fun environment to learn. Here are some training ideas using notable social media tools and platforms.
A. YouTubeThere are tens of thousands of videos on business acumen and other business skills. Create a list of those that will benefit your organization. Have employees watch one or two a week. You can also set up an organizational YouTube Channel for training to host your own training videos.
B. Skype, blab, or Google HangoutIf there are remote employees, live streaming tools, such as Skype (or Microsoft’s business version of Skype, Lync), blab (up to 4 people on-screen), or Google Hangouts (free for up to 10 people on-screen) are great for bringing a dispersed group together in a single, virtual space for training. Also, the learning curve is relatively easy in order to host these types of virtual learning rooms.
C. LinkedIn group or Facebook pageLinkedIn groups and Facebook pages can be set up to be restricted, secure, and by invitation only. You can use these for creating a peer-to-peer learning community where best of practice can be shared. Post an industry-related topic each week and ask employees to contribute by posting comments or questions. Those who do can win rewards or badges. Encourage employees to vote their “likes” for who contributed the most helpful post over a specified period of time.
D. PodcastsThere are podcasts on thousands of business topics online that can be downloaded or streamed to a mobile device or computer. It is also easy for an organization to create its own series of podcasts that cover topics specific to the work environment.
E. Private blogIf you already have a business domain, setting up a private blog is easy, using platforms like WordPress or Squarespace. Use the blog to create a space for learning posts.
F. WikiCreate an organizational encyclopedia using a wiki platform for quick reference and performance support. What are some of the low cost training methods where you work? If you have suggestions on how to train employees on a budget, please post them as a comment. We look forward to the sharing!
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