Most business owners understand the impact of corporate training on the productivity of their workforce. Yet, a study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that organizations with less than 100 employees gave less than 12 minutes of manager training to their employees over a six month period. One reason why corporate training is not as commonplace as it should ideally be is because of the time and resources it consumes. Small and medium businesses are routinely short-staffed and sending your staff to train can squeeze your resources even further. In addition to this, learning management systems cost money and business owners continue to view this as a cost center for their organization. However, onboarding and training your employees does not have to cost a bomb. In this article, we will take a look at some learning tools that can train your small business employees for cheap without taking too much of their time away from work. Google Classroom Small businesses and non-profits who do not want to invest in a sophisticated LMS product can start their training process with Google Classroom. This is a free tool that serves as a repository for businesses to organize their lessons into discrete subjects and courses. Trainers can upload documents, videos and other learning materials, create assignments and engage with their students from within the LMS dashboard. Google Classroom is ideal for small businesses that cannot afford expensive LMS tools since they do not require real-time engagement with employees. Also more importantly, it is free. Job Shadowing Businesses that do not have a dedicated HR personnel to induct new employees to the organization can make use of job shadowing instead. This is the process of having a new worker observe an existing employee on the job from close quarters. This helps them understand the work processes in greater detail and can thus hasten the onboarding process. Contrary to popular perception, job shadowing goes beyond new employee onboarding. Small business setups require employees to be multifaceted and shadowing enables employees from one department to observe the working and processes in another department. Such cross-department shadowing processes help organizations tackle challenges arising from short-staffing or attrition. Knowledge Management Startups and small businesses thrive on chaos. But such chaotic work environment can also dramatically drive down productivity levels within an organization. The lack of organization and knowledge management would mean that employees do not learn from the mistakes of their peers. In an industry with cut-throat competition, this inefficiency could make or break organizations. Knowledge management is the process of keeping processes and peer-learning organized so that new employees can quickly and efficiently learn the processes and best practices developed by their older peers. Many popular learning management systems in the market come with sophisticated knowledge management apps. But for starters, it is a good idea to make use of free tools like Google Drive to organize your work process related documents that makes it easy for any new employee to learn and onboard without a lot of effort. Train Senior Employees On Delegation The absence of a full time HR manager can be a problem when your organization has to take care of establishing the KPIs and targets for each of your new employees. This is especially tricky for administrative or operational tasks that does not have a large team of workers. In such situations, it is a good idea to train your senior employees on delegation. This is similar to job shadowing except that the new worker is made to work under a senior employee (who had been handling the roles associated with the new worker). This technique is extremely useful in an SMB setup because it helps two employees at the same time. Senior employees who do not get to spend a lot of time to train on their people-management skills are now able to learn these skills on the job. At the same time, a new worker does not have to depend on an HR manager to learn their job roles and responsibilities. Encourage Team Networking Telecommuting has often been dubbed the work culture of the future and there is no denying the fact that remote working is here to stay. From a small business owners’ perspective, telecommuting can be lucrative because it not only contributes to higher productivity among employees, but also reduces operational expenses arising from office rental space and affiliated capital expenses. There is however one downside to telecommuting – it reduces physical networking among employees that is keen to better knowledge sharing and transfer. In an online collaboration setup, there is very little chance for your accountant to interact and learn about the sales processes of your organization. But this is possible through physical networking. One of the best ways to encourage better networking among employees is to make it mandatory for employees to visit their workplaces at least once a week or two. Team networking encourages cross-department learning and is critical in a small business setup. Customer Meetings In most organizations, customer relationships are handled by an exclusive team of sales or business development specialists. Employees from other departments, including those who directly work on the customers’ product, seldom meet their client in person. This creates a disconnect between what customers want and what businesses offer. More importantly, these employees do not get a business-end perspective of the product or service they are building. One of the most efficient ways to train your employees is to increase their interaction with the customer. This is a win-win for the customer and the employee. Your sales managers are not always adept at answering technical questions posed by the customer. Having members from your backend team join your sales manager in client meetings thus helps your customer get a better understanding of the product while hastening the business-side learning for your employees. Corporate training does not have to be an expensive process. While there is absolutely no replacement for proper LMS tools in an organization, simple tweaks as those described above go a long way in mitigating the gaps in employee training and making sure that your resource shortage do not bring down the competency of your employees in any way.