Keep employee skills up to date

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A. Many small companies are facing difficult challenges today to find funds to train employees. Even if you have limited training funds and have to scale back temporarily, it is important to keep your training programs alive. Doing so will prevent your employees' skills from lagging behind other workers in the same industry.

Consider performing a needs assessment to determine the skill level of each employee.  Based on the results, select the employees that you will want to participate in the training program. The initial testing can be done by purchasing an inexpensive, software assessment program. Typically these are purchased as a "bundle" and may contain many different types of tests, from basic typing to Microsoft Office Suite, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can also purchase customer service and call center types of assessments.

Schedule a time for your employees to test their current knowledge and skill. If possible, set aside a quiet testing area with a computer. Share the initial test scores with each employee, so that each will know what they will want to concentrate on improving.

Establish a time frame and a goal for your training program. For example, you might establish a training period of three months with employees being required to log at least six hours of practice. You might establish the goal to be a 25% increase a over previous score  for each employee.

Once the training has been completed, schedule your employees to retest. You will want to see improved scores to determine if your program has been effective. If results show no significant improvement, try to evaluate the reasons why, then modify your training program to produce better results. 

Many tutorials are available online at little or no cost. Consider recruiting a member of your staff to teach a class on a particular software skill that is essential to your workforce. Don't forget to research state training grant opportunities for small companies. You may be surprised to find out that funding is there waiting and available to use.

Michele Faulkner is the human resources manager at Merits Health Products. Reach her at or 239-772-0579, ext. 268.