Startups, train your workforce

By Sameer Bhatia , written on July 9, 2013

From The News Desk

Startups have special workforce-training needs. While providing a more unique and exciting environment than established companies, startups also bring training challenges that veteran companies don’t have.

Because startups require employees to take a more hands-on approach to building a brand from the ground-up, people have a chance to shape the company from its inception through launch and development. This entrepreneurial spirit gives each employee the chance to be a partner in the overall organization.

Yet what goes hand in hand with these opportunities for employees to dive in outside of the traditional roles that they were hired for is that people must be able to effectively participate in areas outside their job descriptions. For a startup to be successful, its teams must be able to ramp up quickly to develop skills outside of their core areas of expertise -- as well as within them.

Hit the ground running

New companies have an even greater need for employee training and education that’s best delivered when new hires first come on board. Giving startup employees the tools that they need to succeed from day one is the best investment you can make in your workforce and your company.

Fortunately, online training can help shorten the learning curve. As is true of industries globally, an increasing amount of education is taking place online. E-learning is rapidly approaching the halfway point for corporate training, now accounting for 40 percent of all corporate training hours, up from 37 percent in 2011. And by 2015, 25 million post-secondary students in the United States will be taking classes online.

It’s easy to understand why. There are many advantages to e-learning -- particularly for startup companies that need to consolidate training time as much as possible. No time or money is lost on travel or organizing a training event. Learners can set their own pace of understanding and assimilating information. Online training courses can be easily and quickly updated by simply uploading new material, or automatically importing content from Web pages.

Reduced training costs

Once you understand the importance of sufficiently training startup employees, the next step is to identify the learning programs that work best for your teams. Because startups are generally smaller in size, and lack the bigger budgets of established companies, it makes sense to conduct a cost comparison of your training options.

To understand the potential cost savings that online learning can offer startups, consider the following case study from Training Magazine of how eLearningArt created comprehensive online training programs for their employees, which helped improve their product development while saving a significant amount of money and time.

ELearningArt, which provides eLearning images and templates for the eLearning industry, needed to train its newly hired graphic design team on quality control management. (Disclosure: eLearningArt is my client but offers a good illustration.) The company was concerned that using internal training would result in loss of time and money, and would interrupt product development. To avoid spending time organizing live training sessions, the company recognized the value in using online internal training programs and online training software. These solutions helped accomplish training objectives while being cost-effective.

ELearningArt found online training software to be the ideal solution. It could create its own online courses and assessments in a matter of hours, adding learning materials such as videos, PowerPoints, PDFs, and online content such as blogs and wikis. Plus with online training software, the company did not have to worry about additional costs such as new hardware purchases, installation charges, hosting costs, and data-backup and maintenance fees.

What’s next?

Technology will continue to change the experience of online training for both employees in established companies and startups alike. What’s happening in the nation’s classrooms is telling of the direction that corporate training initiatives will go. According to a study released by Ambient Insight, by 2015, the number of students taking classes in traditional classrooms will have plunged to 4.1 million, down from 14.4 million in 2010. The difference is being made up in online classrooms, as more and more students -- as well as employees -- migrate to the Web for their learning experiences.

As online learning continues to experience explosive growth for corporate training initiatives, startups will need to continue to find ways to maximize these opportunities for their workforce. Failing to train your new teams as quickly and efficiently as possible puts you at risk for employees feeling unprepared, lost, and dissatisfied, which can lead to high turnover. By providing your new hires with online tools and resources for training and education, you’ll be positioning them -- along with your startup -- for maximum success.