October 06, 2009, 5:55 PM — I know people who used to make a fat living off training, but that train has slowed if not derailed. Well, not the “Train of Knowledge” all employees need to do their job better, but the gravy train of fat training contracts and fatter per diem checks for traveling around the country. So let's look at three ways to increase knowledge for employees without overly decreasing your bank account.
First, and least expensive, is to give an employee or two time, and permission, to figure out better ways to do things using the tools you already have. A free afternoon with no distractions can pay amazing dividends. Let your smartest or most curious workers figure out ways to make their jobs easier, and then share that information with other people. Be sure and give them permission, and don't mention it if you think they're wasting time. At least they're not wasting time on Facebook and hiding it from you.
Second, and also free, is to take advantage of available information from your suppliers. Your software vendors have either free webinars now and then, or a ton of material on their Web sites explaining how to use their products more completely. Magazines and Web sites have webinars as well, as do some user groups.
Finally, buy a book now and then and put it in the company library. Whether the newest Web programming guide or a copy of a Microsoft Office 2003 how to book you found at the used bookstore, put some books where people can find and use them. Yes, a few people may read a bit more than they need to, but believe me, most technology books won't keep your workers enthralled for hours on end. But a few standard books on computers, software, and problem solving will be worth a few bucks.
Or you can find one of those training companies in your town and send some employees to a class for a week for $1500 each. Don't those books sound cheap now?