Managers and business owners in small businesses everywhere are acutely aware of the challenge of keeping their employees motivated and empowered. In small business setting, often employees are relied on to perform a similar set of tasks and routines over and over again, day-in and day-out, and its mind-numbing routines like this that lead to lower employee morale and employees mentally “checking out.” Sadly, unhappy employees can often lead to customer dissatisfaction. However, there is an easy and cheap solution than can aid you in keeping your employees happy and motivated.
That solution is educating them in functional skill areas. Learning new skills will keep your employees challenged and allow them to increase productivity for your business. The following hard skills are core office skill sets that will benefit most any organization:
Excel may possibly be the most important software application used in the modern-day workplace. It is useful for data entry, taking inventory, computing numbers, displaying in numerical information, and important for problem solving and making decisions. Excel’s applications in business are far and wide and thus making it a crucial business tool.
Your average business is only using its most rudimentary data entry and calculation functions, thus small businesses stand to benefit greatly from educating their employees on the more complex features of Excel. The good news is there are many Excel learning resources available online.
Most any business is probably using pictures for its website and marketing materials. Photoshop is the industry standard for working with digital images and is used to create professional looking graphics. There’s an old saying that “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words,” and Photoshop is the tool that will help you extract as much value out of your pictures as possible.
Photoshop is a great tool to put into the hands of a creative types who may be bored with rote activities of their daily work, and if you give the right people this tool they will be able to bring some life your mundane marketing materials. Another great tool from Adobe that is useful for graphics and brochures is InDesign. Tutorials for both Photoshop and InDesign are available online for free.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
The vast majority of businesses now have an online presence. If your business does not, then tasking one of your employees with creating a website and educating them in the art and science of SEO should be the first thing you do after reading this article. These days commerce is more and more about being able to be found online and good SEO makes it easier for your business get found by people who are looking for it.
Even if your business does not employ a web based commerce model, getting found online can lead to new business. There are many SEO resources online that can help you train your staff, so start researching your options now!
While most people from older generations do not understand the value of social media, it is now becoming a major tool in marketing for businesses both small and large. But the fact is your competition is using it, and if you are not, they may be stealing away your customers right from under your nose.
Social media allows you to maintain connections with your customers and engage with them even when they are not within the confines of your brick and mortar operations, and helps bring an online persona to your brand. If you have some younger twenty-something staff who are stifled in their current position, they might be a good pick for some social media training as they are probably already spending a couple of hours a day on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. And there is plenty of free social media resources available to get them started.
Most small businesses can benefit from some more project management skills. Project management is the science of planning, managing, and controlling resources, time, and budget to meet specific goals for projects and on-going operations. Many small businesses have issues with organization thus project management is a great way to keep on top of all the processes and wheels in motion in a hectic and resource scarce environment.
Perhaps, you have a rising star on your staff who is working below his or her potential – that just may be the right candidate to give a course on project management and help organize the chaos in your workplace. You can opt for a project management training course, or look to integrate software into your business to help improve overall efficiency. There are numerous tools available, from the ever-popular Slack to Microsoft’s MS Project, which can dramatically improve productivity across your team.
HAPPY EMPLOYEES = HAPPY CUSTOMERS = BETTER BUSINESS
Do you see that your employees have a case of “the Mondays” everyday? You can put a stop to that now! Combat your employee boredom and low morale by providing your employees with a skills-based education, that will challenge them, increase their sense of contribution, and help increase overall productivity for your company. The good news is there are many resources available online. These resources range from downloadable “how-to” guides and e-books to video tutorials and online courses. For companies with budgetary restrictions you will be happy to know that much of the material is free or fairly cheap. So what are you waiting for? Get out there are get your employees skilled up and excited to work today!