If you take the right approach, training your staff will be highly beneficial for everyone. Morale, skills, and productivity will improve. You might just find that a reinvigorated team feels like a brand-new team.
Should I employ tech-savvy people or invest in training my staff?
You’ve spent money on migrating your data to the cloud, introducing a new CRM system, or online process promised to improve productivity. And you’ve altered the way you work to enhance business performance — and encouraged your team to follow suit.
But it’s not happening as smoothly as you’d like. Despite good intentions, your staff are still struggling to get their heads around the technical terms. Some have reverted to “old” and “easier” ways. Others are trying but aren’t using the technology effectively.
So how do you reach your desired profit and growth goals when your resources can’t grasp the new tools you’ve implemented?
Do you hire tech-savvy employees (perhaps millennials) who can easily solve problematic issues with the advanced tools and functionalities chosen? Or do you invest in your current staff and train them?
Let’s weigh up the options.
The pros and cons of hiring tech-savvy staff
If you’re introducing new technology to replace a decade-old system, it’s common to experience resistance from staff at first. It might seem easier to hire a bunch of fresh-faced millennials or IT experts who are better equipped to handle the digital age.
- More adaptable to change
- Can mentor or buddy up with others for a casual training approach
- Are conscious about finding ways to do things faster or more efficiently
- Able to hit the ground running with online resources they’re already familiar with
- Might not understand the culture of the company and user knowledge
- Haven’t formed relationships with your clients yet
- Could create some conflict with long-standing staff who see things differently
- As an employer, the recruitment process is time-consuming and expensive
The pros and cons of training your team
When it comes to training, you’re probably concerned about the investment — in regard to both cost and time. Especially if multiple members of a team or your whole office need to upgrade their skills. But you must consider the future impact of setting aside the budget and shutting down the office for a day or two.
- Improve staff morale and retention rate by showing you care about their personal development
- Easier to invest money in people you know and already have a passion for the business
- Staff will have the head space to learn and retain new information
- Experts can provide useful tips and answer any FAQs in one go
- “Untrainable” staff may complain about the time away from their work, especially if they don’t believe in the technology
- Loss in day-to-day business productivity while training occurs
- Upfront training costs are usually expensive
- Finding the right training company can be time-consuming in itself
Summary of pros and cons
Overall, while it might feel like a quick fix to hire a new team of software-savvy newly graduated students, you need to consider the long-term impact.
By only hiring a particular generation or skill set when a job opening crops up, you’re creating a less-diverse workplace. And by not training your current staff, you’re creating potential victims of a skills shortage gap.
My recommendation is to invest in external or in-house training. Yes, a buddy system could work if you hire one or two IT experts. But unless they’re specialised in training or they have time to mentor everyone, it’s not the ideal solution if you want a smooth and consistent transition.
Ensure everyone is eager to embrace the change
From my experience, the successful rollout of new technology happens when you have the buy-in from everyone. They need to see how it relates to and enhances the company’s purpose.
Don’t assume older staff aren’t interested in learning either. Many are bored and ready to try something different! They just need some guidance and justification for the change.
Remember: if you start to dictate, they’ll put a wall up.
How to help employees adapt to new company technology
A recent Forbes article acknowledged the potential HR challenges when it comes to learning new technology in the workplace. In addition to training, the Forbes Human Resources Council recommends the following initiatives:
- Incentivise the technology use – Ensure you tie the training with their current job requirements. Remind staff that additional knowledge could lead to a future promotion or pay increase.
- Break it up into small steps – Be patient. Some employees may pick it up quickly, but others will need more time. Make sure everyone understands the basics before moving onto more complicated details.
- Host “Lunch and Learn” sessions – Build connections across the team while simultaneously learning something new in a relaxed environment. This could work well as a follow up session to the training — perhaps a week or month later.
- Engage employees every step of the way – Involve the team around the deployment and design of new technology. This allows them to properly understand the problem the technology is trying to solve.
- Follow up on initial training – Don’t just send staff to train once and forget about it. Implementing new software needs to be an ongoing initiative. Schedule regular feedback opportunities and refresher sessions as platforms evolve.
- Make it interactive – Encourage team members to become “experts” and demonstrate their learnings to their colleagues. This will help them retain the new information — especially if they teach or use it immediately.
- Give employees room for failure – Tell staff not to be afraid of failings. It’s how we learn! Manage it with positive reinforcement.
Lielette Calleja, director, All That Counts
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