Posted on Leave a comment

10 Effective Ways to Train a New Employee

 

 

Training a new employee the right way matters in many more ways than just having them start to be productive. The costs of not training your employees can add up quickly; from poor morale to lack of production to employee turnover, not setting up your new employee (or newly promoted employee) for success has consequences.

You also will want to consider the costs and the time required to train your new employee. You will want your new employee to track their training time (and what tasks they spent what amount of time learning), as well as you will want to know how many hours it took away from a manager or team to train the new person. This kind of training data will be invaluable to you in order to grow your business, increase your employees’ production, and improve employee retention from continually improving your training programs.

We will discuss the following 10 ways to train a new employee:

  • Way #1: On the Job Training (aka OJT)
  • Way #2: Mentoring Program
  • Way #3: Employee Coaching
  • Way #4: Culture Training
  • Way #5: Job Shadowing
  • Way #6: Webinars & Online Resources
  • Way #7: Mobile Training Apps
  • Way #8: Third Party Training
  • Way #9: Gamification
  • Way #10: Use Social Media

Before we start, let’s also talk about the various ways and the commitment and amount of time they take in an easy table:

Let’s start with the most important way to train the vast majority of employees, from a waiter to a real estate agent to a lawyer:

Way #1: On The Job Training (OJT)

What It Is: OJT is a hands-on method of learning that uses existing equipment, tools, and resources to teach job specific duties and competencies. Training takes place within the job environment so that the employee can learn by seeing how the work is performed. This is especially important for roles that clock in and clock out; one of the first OJT training duties should be teaching your new employee how to clock in and clock out effectively and in alignment with company policy using your OnTheClock system. After all, this small function is where businesses lose thousands… to millions… of dollars!

Why It Works: OJT is considered to be one of the most effective training options because it is normally performed internally by those who already understand the job and the company’s values. It’s like having a real life training manual, where the current employee can also teach the new employee the idiosyncrasies of policies and systems, as well as caution them about company policies. On the other side, it is also time consuming and requires an actual person to be training the trainee.

How You Can Try It: Let’s take a quick look at how OJT works. A retail store cashier is an excellent example of a role where OJT is very relevant. Let’s take a step by step approach at Sam’s Hardware Shop and how OJT might be used for “New Hire Nelly” with long time “Employee Eric”.

Step 1: Nelly comes in for work on her first day. Eric is assigned to be her trainer (or sometimes, companies call this a “buddy” to promote camaraderie). Eric greets Nelly when she arrives and, once she fills out her paperwork (i.e. tax forms, etc… which Eric might do, or someone from HR might do), Eric brings Nelly onto the floor.

Step 2: Eric walks Nelly through a typical start of the day, where he shows her how to clock in, and shows her how to do it (as well as she should do it so she can be paid for today!).

Step 3: Eric then shows Nelly where his register is and starts the day. He counts down the drawer and ensures that it matches the night prior’s totals, and then asks her to try it.

Step 4: Eric then opens his register and lets Nelly watch him take care of actual transactions and customers while she takes notes. This should go on for an hour or two. Then, Eric could let Nelly try to do some transactions while he watches and provides feedback.

Step 5: Eric should then debrief with Nelly at the end of her day, help answer any questions, and help her to clock out.

The steps should then repeat until Nelly starts to be able to do all of the actions on her own. As Nelly becomes more functional, Eric’s time with her will decrease, likely each day, and eventually will likely be only for unique questions like a price check or a rebate.

Next, let’s look at mentoring, which can be a large component of On The Job Training.

Way #2: Mentoring Program

What It Is: Mentoring is a form of training that involves pairing a senior, experienced employee with a new, less experienced employee in order for the new hire to adapt quickly to their role. It is very similar to OJT, but usually takes the relationship to the next level (i.e. think of a senior level attorney being paired with a junior associate).

Tip: You might want to consider using a specific amount of mentoring each week, or even each month, for team members to get the most out of this time. 

Why It Works: Establishing a mentor relationship has been shown to enhance the speed that a new employee learns their new role and adapts to company culture because of the one on one interaction. It also has numerous other positive benefits such as increased positivity at the workplace and higher retention rates because it builds both social and professional bonds.

How You Can Try It: No need to reinvent the wheel: some of the top Fortune 500 companies and successful small businesses implement great mentoring programs. Here are a few of their stories:

General Electric

  • Newly hired graduates go into their Experienced Commercial Leadership Program where they will complete 8 months rotating within areas of their particular business.

Google

  • For the past 9 years, Google has offered a global program featuring stipends for student developers. Summer of Code pairs students with mentors to gain real-world software development experience and has boasted over 8,500 successful participants.

4 Point Consulting

  • 4 Point Consulting offers its associates and staff consultants the opportunity to trade ideas, request trainings and learn from senior management with monthly “Coffee n Convo” hours, dedicated entirely to the development of its employees. Group mentorship allows for camaraderie and the building of essential communication skills.

Caterpillar

  • Caterpillar devotes the first 2-3 years of a college graduate’s employment to professional development by implementing a rotation program wherein the new hire can gain exposure to all aspects of the business, from building basic technical skills to engaging with senior management.

Mentoring in a less formal sense, and when usually done by the direct manager of a new employee, is usually called:

Way #3: Employee Coaching

What It Is: Coaching is used to provide guidance to employees so they can work through challenges and strengthen their skills. Coaching is also usually somewhat less formal than mentoring, and can take less time (and thus cost less money, inhibit employee production less) than mentoring. However, both can have value when some structure is in place around them, and employee coaching can be formally structured (for example, in a weekly 1 on 1 with an employee’s manager).

Why It Works: Coaching is effective because it empowers employees to take their training into their own hands and encourages high performance in a setting and pace that helps personal and professional development. It also can serve as the basis for performance management and documentation of performance, which can be important in promotional and termination decisions, as well as in performance reviews.

How You Can Try It: This method can be effective when you have an employee who could benefit from performance improvement because it helps guide them towards solving problems and improving skills. It can also be great for management or senior employees to consult a business coach who can help provide guidance, focus, goal-setting, accountability, personal development, and business profitability.

Way #4: Culture Training

What It Is: Company Culture is the personality of an organization and it describes what values and goals a company has. Training new employees on company culture is equally important as training for skills because it puts emphasis on being part of the team.

Why It Works: Studies show that employees who are in alignment with their company’s culture and mission are more dedicated to the success of the organization. Teaching your company’s culture and values can also drastically reduce the chances employees will inadvertently engage in discrimination or harassment. It also promotes increased communication and promotes positivity. Howard Stevenson, of Harvard Business School faculty, notes: “Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.”

How You Can Try It: You can start by creating a list of core values for your company, decide what characteristics new hires will have to be successful in your culture, and continue ongoing training with existing employees. Perhaps employees can contribute to or vote on your list of values, if they are not already stated. If your mission, culture and values exist, make sure you’re living by them. Post your values where team members can regularly see them. Hold your management team and yourself accountable to fulfilling those values daily. If your organization has grown, pivoted, or has experienced a change in its strategy or goals, consider whether the values you put in place at the outset still ring true today. In order for culture and values to work, they have to be felt, so they have to be unique and applicable to your company and employees, specifically.

Next, similar to On The Job Training, there is job shadowing.

Way #5: Job Shadowing

What It Is: Job shadowing involves a new hire working directly with an employee to become immersed in the day by day requirements of the job. In fact, some people even use job shadowing as a part of the recruitment

Why It Works: This method works well because it allows new hires to see the nitty gritty details in real time, without having to figure it out along the way. Simply telling a new employee what to do is not as successful as showing them one on one.

How You Can Try It: Job shadowing works best for jobs that require a lot of detail or those that are heavily task-based. Even if the role would not benefit from solely job shadowing, most roles have some aspects that are well suited to this type of training. In some cases, it can be essential, such as for internships or promotions.

A great example in general is the food and beverage industry. It is fairly unique in its job shadowing (“stage”) concept. But allowing potential (or new) employees to immediately receive the opportunity to work hands-on, side-by-side with more tenured teammates for a whole day can give them a real glimpse into on-the-job realities and skills necessary. One of 4 Point Consulting’s clients, Hu Kitchen in NYC, actually does job shadowing (a “trail” they call it) in their recruitment process for all restaurant roles to make sure that their top candidates understand exactly what their new job would be.

Way #6: Webinars and Online Resources

What It Is: Webinars and Online Resources are both virtual training sessions, with the former being a live presentation, and the latter being pre-made virtual training materials that can be accessed at any time.

Why It Works: This method is extremely cost-effective and convenient, especially if you have employees in different locations. You can take away cost for commuting, venues, and food by utilizing online training. It can also increase employee engagement because people are less likely to be shy about asking questions online. It can also be useful to have resources available for later times because it allows employees to access online information around their busy schedules.

How You Can Try It: For effective execution, start by breaking down material into intuitive sections, incorporate lots of visuals and interactive media, take time to answer questions and encourage collaboration, and set aside time at the end for participant quizzes and feedback.

4 Point Consulting finds success in such trainings from new-hire on-boarding material to systems implementation by leading with agendas, keeping material strictly to the point, and leaving apt time for Q&A at the end of the webinar (so that participants can avoid disruptions and stay on mute throughout the training!). One 4 Point client, SAFEbuilt, was rolling out a new HRIS system in 2018. 4 Point Consulting hosted live webinars (which were also recorded) for employees to attend to learn functionality of the system in real time. We also held webinar Q&A sessions on a daily basis to make sure people felt heard and understood in a smaller group setting. It worked wonders and, better yet, people retained what they learned!

In a similar way, mobile training apps take the webinar concept to the mobile level.

Way #7: Mobile Training Apps

What It Is: Mobile apps designed specifically to provide training sessions and materials straight to an employee’s phone.

Why It Works: Millennials are a lot different from previous generations because they were raised on technology and the workforce in general has become more on the go and remote than ever before. Mobile learning allows employees to learn wherever or whenever and it can be delivered in smaller, more manageable-sized chunks.

How You Can Try It: Find an app service that works for your business, often apps will work with other HR software. Have your new hires gain access even before they begin their first day so that all necessary paperwork is completed in advance and energy levels are kept high from the very beginning. For some app recommendations, visit this article from SHRM.

Way #8: Third Party Training

What It Is: Using outside sources, such as vendors, to provide training to your internal employees.

Why It Works: This method is great when a company may not have the resources to efficiently train new hires or when specialized training is required such as OSHA (Occupational Health & Safety) and you do not have qualified team members available to teach. Other options are using vendor training for any software or apps you use. This can also be useful for training that happens to prevent liability to an employer, such as Diversity & Inclusion training, Sexual Harassment training, HIPPA training, or the like.

How You Can Try It: Determine the needs of your business and decide if it will be more efficient and cost-effective to outsource training.

Need help figuring out your training strategy or don’t have enough time to write your new policies out? Training & development is one of our core practice areas! Get in touch to find more about our hourly HR consulting services.

Way #9: Gamification

What It Is: This new buzzword involved turning training into something fun like a game where people are motivated to succeed through incentivizing the process with rewards.

Why It Works: It promotes friendly competition, gives a sense of achievement to participants, and engages and motivates learners to make behavioural changes.

How You Can Try It: Modify your existing training materials to include a gaming element such as changing format to be levels with winning one level being mandatory before reaching the next step. You can also include an awards system to motivate employees to succeed. More suggestions for implementing gamification techniques can be found here.

Doug Kirkpatrick, of Beyond Empowerment: The The Age of the Self-Managed Organization found that with his project, Morningstar, in which he was instructed to create a state of the art manufacturing plant for tomatoes, he was able to organize the team with a simple scorecard. The gaming element created collaboration, harmony and prosperity for the project: Morningstar produced 90 million pounds of tomato paste for the world market, changing the course of the industry.

Way #10: Use Social Media

What It Is: Using Social Media for training can be a great, easy way to share training materials with your employees because it is easily accessible.

Why It Works: It engages employees on platforms they are already familiar with and active on.

How You Can Try It: Try creating YouTube training videos to share with your new hires. You can also create a private Facebook group where employees can exchange information and materials directly with one another. Another great resource is an instant-messaging service, like Slack, that can be used amongst employees for easy collaboration and sharing.

In conclusion…

Investing in training for new employees helps attract AND retain great talent. Taking the time to coach a team member into the role demonstrates your organization’s commitment to their personal development, endearing them to the company in return.

Spending time with employees in training programs can help managers identify strengths and areas of development right off the bat, ensuring that each new hire can add their specific value to your company. Effective training programs improve overall employee engagement and translate into savings: employees with diversified skills can transition to projects, clients and varied workloads throughout the organization.

Posted on Leave a comment

How To Support Your Employees’ Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions aren’t always easy to follow, but the healthier your team is, the more productive, engaged, and positive they’ll be. Full-time employees spend nearly a quarter of their lives at work, so why not do something to help? Here are some easy ways to get started towards developing a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace in 2019:

Offer Incentives

Incentivizing wellness is a great way to get your employees to participate. When there’s a reward for healthy behaviors, those behaviors will become habits and those habits in turn will ensure that your team is happy, healthy and ready to take on the day.

Smaller businesses/smaller budget: Offer your employees a small amount, say $20 per month, to use only for wellness purposes. Consider it their “me” fund. Ask them to use it towards products or services they wouldn’t normally splurge on — a relaxing massage, an exercise class — or cater a healthy lunch for the team once or twice per month.

Larger businesses/budget: Gift your team a FitBit or AppleWatch to help them track their fitness goals, or provide your employees with a gym membership.

Take Advantage of Existing Resources

Office space alone can be an easy way to encourage wellness. From taking the stairs instead of the elevator to converting the breakroom to hold fitness classes after hours, supporting your employees’ healthy habits can start right within the office.

Smaller businesses/smaller budget: Instead of having your team meeting in the conference room, suggest having a meeting at a nearby destination that everyone has the option to walk to, or survey your team to see if anyone has a background in fitness or wellness and would like to offer classes before/after work or at lunchtime.

Larger businesses/budget: Find someone in the community who does on-site yoga or fitness classes, and offer your team a free class once a week.  

Make Your Wellness Initiatives Convenient

The more convenient your wellness initiatives are, the more likely you are to have employee participation. Making changes around the office or offering free resources can support your employee wellness engagement.

Smaller businesses/smaller budget: Providing bowls of fruit for your employees to snack on, rather than the typical suspects like chips and donuts, makes making a healthy choice easy for your team.

Larger businesses/budget: Consider bringing in a wellness expert or providing free in-office flu shots for your team to take advantage of.

Bonus: If you’re offering health insurance to your team, look into the free health initiatives offered as part of the plan and relay that to your employees so they can take full advantage of their healthcare policy.

Get Everyone Involved

Wellness works best when it’s a team effort and your employees have others to hold them accountable and take the journey with them. Getting everyone on the team involved not only offers up the opportunity to build strong working relationships, but also encourages socialization and the chance to get to know coworkers better.

Smaller businesses/smaller budget: Consider sponsoring an intramural sports team for your employees that you also participate in. This will encourage getting up and active, friendly competition and bonding between you and your staff.

Larger businesses/budget: For larger companies, the CEO isn’t always as accessible to employees. When upper management joins in on the fun this not only inspires your team to get healthy, but also allows you to get to know better the various people who help your business thrive.

There are a multitude of ways you can encourage wellness in your workplace, but it all comes down to the initiatives that work best for you, your business and your team. The first step to creating any great wellness plan is to simply ask your employees what they would be interested in participating in, and start building from there.

Posted on Leave a comment

How Businesses can Bounce Back from the Least Productive Month of the Year

It’s no surprise that January is the least productive month of the year. It’s cold, dark and people are more prone to experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it’s right after the holidays. Employees are coming back from long vacations with loved ones, holiday parties and days spent lounging and relaxing. Jumping back into working full-time takes some adjusting and with this adjustment period, productivity just isn’t what it was.

How to Increase Your Business’ Productivity After the Post-holiday Slump:

 

Assess the State of Your Business

The starting point to begin moving past a decline in productivity is understanding what specifically needs to be improved, completed or implemented. Assessing where your company is lacking or lagging will give your employees a clear vision of their role in restoring balance to your business.

Set Priorities

It can be easy for your employees to get overwhelmed with meetings, emails and phone calls, and trying to manage everything all at once can cause assignments and deadlines to fall through the cracks. By setting priorities, your team can allow themselves the mental focus to efficiently work on important goals so they can then focus on smaller assignments.

Implement Self-care and Wellness Policies

When your employees are feeling their best, this will be reflected in their work. If your employees are running on empty, not taking care of themselves or ignoring their mental and physical needs, the work they produce will also parallel that. Implementing wellness initiatives like gym memberships, a monthly wellness allowance or team fitness goals can spark a change in the work your team completes. Encouraging employees to focus on self-care habits like getting exercise and eating healthy makes a world of difference in increasing overall productivity.

Re-establish Your Mission

After all of the time spent away from the office, it’s important to get employees back on the same page about what the company’s mission and goals are. Preparing a presentation and holding a team meeting to boost morale and reaffirm the importance of what the company and employees are working toward can put productivity back into the perspective of the larger goal.

The January productivity decrease is normal and something that happens to almost every business. This doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. By following the steps above, you can manage goals and deadlines with a comprehensive plan and refreshed outlook on how to get your business back on track.

Posted on Leave a comment

4 Point Consulting invited to join Forbes Chicago Business Council

We’re thrilled to announce that 4 Point Consulting’s CEO and Principal Consultant, Christy Hopkins, has been asked to join Forbes Chicago Business Council! 


Chicago (January 9, 2019) — Christy Hopkins, CEO and Principal Consultant of 4 Point Consulting, a quality-driven professional services, human resources, and talent acquisition firm that works with startups, SMBs, mid-market companies, VC firms & their portfolios, has been accepted into Forbes Chicago Business Council, an invitation-only community for successful business owners and leaders in Greater Chicago.

Hopkins was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of her experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honors.

“We are honored to welcome Christy and 4 Point into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Chicago Business Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”

As an accepted member of the Council, Christy will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum and at member events. Hopkins will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share her expert insights in original business articles on Forbes.com, and to contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.

“It’s an honor to have been selected to join this community of business professionals,” said Christy. “The professional services climate is rapidly changing, and we’re thrilled to be on the forefront as the industry evolves. I look forward to contributing with the best practices from 4 Point Consulting as well as learning from others on the council.”

ABOUT FORBES COUNCILS
Forbes Councils is a collective of invitation-only communities created in partnership with Forbes and the expert community builders who founded Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). In Forbes Councils, exceptional business owners and leaders come together with the people and resources that can help them thrive.

For more information about Forbes Chicago Business Council, visit forbeschicagocouncil.com. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.

Posted on 2 Comments

Finding Talent in a Competitive Market

The competition for high-quality jobs has always existed, but today’s historically low unemployment rate is causing a new set of problems for companies searching for skilled workers. These top-tier candidates are in high demand but are difficult to acquire amidst the legion of competing companies. With the trends tipping in a new direction, how can companies stand out amongst the competitive crowd to attract their desired top candidates?

They’ll need to be creative and make improvements to their internal processes and external messaging to stand out. A few practices businesses can implement are:

  1. Develop and promote an employer brand
  2. Define company culture and values
  3. Refine the onboarding process
  4. Perfect hiring procedures

Without an employer brand, prospective employees will be unable to find your job openings. Additionally, if they are unfamiliar with your company, they will be less likely to apply. Taking a strong stance on company values will act as a beacon to attract candidates that match the company’s culture in a crowded job market.

While courting potential employees, maintaining consistent communication to create a seamless onboarding process will keep the new employee engaged and excited to join the team. When these core practices are polished and implemented, top-tier candidates will be a lot easier to attract, hire and maintain.

If you’re interested in learning more about 4 Point Consulting’s services, click here to get in touch!

Posted on 5 Comments

How to Create a Bully-Free Workplace

Though we tend to think of bullying as a problem that ends with high school, workplace bullying is an unfortunate day-to-day reality for millions of adults. According to a 2017 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 19 percent of Americans are victims of bullying in the workplace. Bullies create a work environment that not only damages the health and well-being of its victims but also negatively affects a company’s bottom line.

Investopedia found that workplace bullying can negatively impact a company’s performance and reputation through reduced productivity, high employee turnover and increased legal costs. Fortunately, awareness of this issue has greatly increased in recent years, thanks to efforts such as National Bullying Prevention Month. Yet small- and medium-sized businesses still need to take steps to ensure they’re providing a safe and productive work environment for all employees.

Recognize Bullying in the Workplace

The signs of workplace bullying are often subtle and can easily be mistaken for normal work stress, allowing them to go unnoticed by many HR professionals. The WBI defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators.” Bullies will often habitually take credit for another employees work or, conversely, shift blame to their target when things go wrong. More obvious signs of bullying include aggression, intrusion into a target’s personal space or belongings, or subjecting a target to public humiliation. Supervisors can bully subordinates by setting unrealistic expectations or purposefully pitting employees against one another. Excluding certain employees from important meetings and blocking them from opportunities for advancement are also telltale signs of office bullying.

Properly Handle Incidents of Bullying

Employees should always know they can safely report incidents of bullying to their supervisors or HR representatives. Since the federal government and many states do not have anti-bullying laws, it’s up to individual organizations to devise a strict no-bullying policy (include this information in the employee handbook). If you haven’t already, create an employee complaint form and implement a standardized practice for investigating claims. This practice should include interviewing the victim, bully and any bystanders. Ensure that the investigation process remains confidential. Once it comes time to confront the bully, you should outline the specific behaviors that the bully must change and refer back to the employee handbook to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation.

Create a Bully-Free Workplace

Rather than wait for an incident to occur, it’s best to take immediate steps to proactively foster a positive, bully-free work environment. Creating a company culture that prioritizes inclusion and celebrates diversity reduces the likelihood that a bully will be tolerated in your workplace. Implement a management training program that identifies the early signs of bullying, and include all staff on workplace civility workshops to forge respect and companionship among coworkers. For smaller organizations, dedicating time for team building exercises and social outings help to strengthen bonds and build trust. A recent study by Warwick University found that happiness makes people 12 percent more productive, proving that a happy work environment is not only better for employees, but for the organization as well.

All of this underscores the importance of creating and maintaining a bully-free workplace where all employees feel comfortable and accepted. Getting management on board with new procedures for identifying and handling workplace bullying may present its own challenges, but the long-term benefits always outweigh the potential costs.

4 Point Consulting can help you navigate these new procedures and policies. Contact us to learn more.