As a small business owner, you know the health and success of your business is tied directly to staffing and employee training. Staffing disruptions and inadequate employee performances can cause significant setbacks, while reliable, well-trained employees can save costs and improve your customers’ experience, helping build your reputation and cultivate a loyal customer base.
For small businesses, this means choosing the right workers and starting their employment off on the right foot should be one of your top priorities. Fortunately, there are many resources and solutions available for businesses in every industry, especially retail. These can range from what software you should invest in to top questions to ask during interviews.
To help start your research, this guide will walk through four hiring and training tips for small businesses, including how to:
- Standardize your training process.
- Use intuitive software.
- Create an employee handbook.
- Spread your job listings through the right channels.
These tips take a look at standard technology in retail businesses, as well as employee management and onboarding strategies. They focus on how to hire and train your employees so you retain them for the long haul. After all, hiring and training new employees can be a resource-intensive process, and when you retain them over time, you can build a loyal, experienced workforce.
1. Standardize your training process.
Whether you’ve hired 10 employees or 1,000, you should have a standardized onboarding process to ensure everyone receives the training they need to perform their job. Plus, creating a systemized process can help you monitor where all of your employees are in the training process, improving your overall employee organization and management.
As you refine your training process, consider implementing the following strategies to improve your results:
- Provide hands-on experience. There’s only so much your employees can learn from reading training manuals and watching videos. Set your new employees down in front of your business’s software solutions to give them hands-on experience. Doing so will let them walk through the processes they’ll need to complete multiple times every day. Plus, this can be an opportunity to see what errors they are encountering while on the job, allowing you to provide solutions while they’re still in training.
- Designate a training leader. When employees first get started, they’ll likely have many questions and need a little more hands-on assistance than they will once they get more comfortable. By designating a training leader, your employees will always know who they can go to to get help. Be sure to show your training leaders a little recognition to thank them for their efforts.
- Gather employee feedback. You can learn if your training process was effective by asking your employees. Once they’ve finished training and been with your business for a few weeks, ask your employees to provide feedback about their training experience and how well it prepared them for their everyday responsibilities.
Additionally, make sure you start your training process with the primary tools your employees will use. For example, while you may be tempted to teach your employees all of your retail POS system’s special features right off the bat, you should get them comfortable with the basics before encouraging them to explore the more specific, lesser-used features. For employees who stick around, there will be plenty of time to go over the details later.
2. Use intuitive software.
Your business’s software should help your employees complete their everyday tasks, efficiently and effectively. Ensure your software helps aid your employees’ job performance, rather than hindering them with an unintuitive system.
Your training process can only go so far to improve your employee and customer experience if your technology gets in the way. The right tools are a foundational component of an effective training process as new employees will learn faster on a more initiative system. Given that well trained and happy employees are likely to stick around for longer at your business, choosing the right software can be an investment in your business’s long-term employee-retention and success.
POS Nation’s guide to intuitive, cost-cutting POS systems offers advice on what to look for in a POS system and other business software tools in general:
- Streamlined interface. Your business’s software solutions likely have a large range of features and functionalities, but adding all of them to one cluttered screen can often be more confusing than helpful. Choose a software system that shows your employees what they need and when they need it with a streamlined interface.
- Automatic reminders. Your employees likely have a lot of little things they need to remember when completing their tasks, and keeping everything in order can be tricky, especially when they’re in the middle of a customer interaction. Software that has automatic reminders can help out your employees and ensure no steps get missed.
- Fast processing times. The last thing you want for your new employees is for them to get stuck watching a loading screen with a frustrated customer. Ensure your software, especially tools you use in customer interactions such as your POS system, process commands and retrieve information quickly.
Before purchasing software for your business, assess not just its core functionalities and features but also how user-friendly it is. Your employees, whether they’re new trainees or have been with your business for years, will appreciate a system that is convenient and easy to use.
3. Create an employee handbook.
During your hiring process, new and potential employees will want to know as much about your business as possible before agreeing to join. For many, this might include speaking with current employees or taking a tour of your business’s offices. This will also include providing official documentation about what employees can expect from your business and what your expectations are for them in return.
As such, you should be sure to create a comprehensive employee handbook. While the exact content and structure of your handbook will depend on your business, you should be sure to include sections on:
- Employee responsibilities. What are your employees expected to do at your business? While you don’t need to include every little detail about each role at your business, you should outline basic responsibilities and expectations in your handbook to create a transparent agreement between you and your employees.
- Benefits. Employee benefits can be a major draw to your organization for many members of your staff, both new and old. Add a section to your handbook detailing what these benefits include to help motivate your employees and formally establish what perks your business has to offer.
- Procedures employees should follow. Situations often arise that are outside of your employee’s normal workday that they’ll need directions to handle. For example, what should an employee do if they’re suddenly feeling sick in the middle of the workday? What steps should they take if they notice possible signs of theft? Ensure your employee handbook addresses these miscellaneous questions so employees will always have a protocol they can follow.
If you ever need to update or amend your employee handbook, be sure to alert all of your current staff to your changes. This helps maintain transparency and create a positive working environment where employees will never be confused about their roles or responsibilities.
4. Spread your job listings through the right channels.
Attracting solid candidates requires a combination of factors, such as writing a strong and accurate job description and offering adequate compensation and benefits. Of course, the best written job posting will only be useful if it finds the right audience.
You can maximize your chances to find the right candidates for your small businesses by posting your job listings in the right marketing channels. Consider the types of people you want to hire and try to envision what their job search looks like. For most small businesses, some of the most useful marketing channels are:
- At your store. If you’re a small business owner operating in a small town or neighborhood, you can always put up a job listing flier in your business’s windows. Regulars and local passersby will notice it, including those who might currently be in search of a job.
- Online. Many job seekers’ first instinct is to hop online to websites like Indeed, Handshake, and LinkedIn. You can post your job listing on websites like these, or look for more specific job-boards, such as ones for your community or targeting a specific age group, such as college students.
- Word-of-mouth. Recommendations from your current employees can be a great tool for finding more employees just like them. Of course, your employees will only spread the word about your business and why their friends and family should apply if they enjoy working for you. Improve your employee experience to earn new employee leads from the employees you already know and trust.
Hiring the right employees is not only necessary for keeping your business’s day-to-day operations running smoothly, but also for your long-term success. Double the Donation’s guide to employee engagement shares that businesses with engaged employees are 22% more profitable. During your hiring process, look for individuals who are interested in making a commitment to your business to start building an engaged, productive workforce.
Small business owners are accustomed to keeping many balls in the air at once, but well-trained employees can help. During your hiring process, make sure your job listings are ending up in front of the right people, and that you have all your necessary materials together before sitting down to speak with them about the job. Plus, once they join, ensure your training process is streamlined and easy to understand.
About the Author
In his 12 years at POS Nation, Spencer Hoffman has climbed the sales ranks, excelling in every role he’s stepped into. His most recent role as vice president of sales includes mentorship and growth across the sales team, and a growing portfolio of satisfied customers. In 2020, Spence’s responsibilities grew to leverage his deep expertise in the retail point of sale space to continuously improve POS Nation’s small business solution as our vice president of product development. Outside of work, Spence spends time with his wife and three children who are all avid driving range connoisseurs.