It is a universal truth that it takes time to make people better, through experience or training. However, in the hospitality and service industries – particularly in SMEs – time is short; staff turnover is high and business cannot easily be put on hold.
Therefore it is time that is a barrier to training. Not cost, not language, not ability, not relevance. Service industries need their people on site. They accept that the job could be done better; but the job still needs to be done. For example, at an outdoor tourist attraction, if the sun comes out, which will a business choose? Training or having its business running at capacity?
It is development in business that leads to growth; and training is part of that. But as an employee, the reaction to training is often ‘I hope this doesn’t mean double the work when I get back.’ For line managers, it is ‘how can I cope while they are off playing with flipcharts and getting free food?’
Apprenticeships are perhaps the closest to the ideal balance, a blend of time in the workplace with an accepted portion of time learning and training. They learn the skills while practising them; and the arrangement is part of the deal. There is a skill however in finding a way to use this model to benefit other types of employees.
In recent years the rise of the online training course has made some headway. However as an alternative this carries its own issues; such as access, retaining information, distractions – and of course it still takes people out of the business; unless you are confident your employees will do it on their own time.
So what is the solution?
If training takes time, then every minute needs to count, and directly benefit your particular business. Industry standards in the form of recommended courses can never be as effective as a bespoke session tailored to your particular needs. Your reception staff are working within a unique business setting (yours!); so the training you give them must take that into consideration.
For example, waiting staff may need customer care training; but with the understanding that they are waiters, not reception staff. Your housekeeping staff may need some basic training on quality care and how to create a wow factor; but not training on giving a warm welcome. And in development terms, if your business caters for (or is keen to attract) a certain market segment; any training should be designed with this in mind.
So the answer is to make every second of your investment count. Make training tailored to your employees; don’t book them on to generic course that caters for all. Ensure it is relevant to the group and at a time that is convenient to the business. Make sure the trainer is prepared to come to you – not only is it good practice to train within the work environment; if you need a member of staff desperately, if only for five minutes; you know where they are. After all, time is money.