While learning management systems (LMSs) have been widely adopted by larger companies, to date, many very small companies, including family-owned businesses that focus on delivering a single product or service to people in a limited market and/or geographic area, remain reluctant to explore the benefits of LMSs. Ask our experts about the benefits of adopting an LMS. If asked why they think their businesses have little or nothing to gain from adopting a LMS, their reasons typically fall into three broad categories.
- Size: Many very small companies (by definition, a small company is any company with fewer than 500 employees, so very small companies are generally assumed to be comprised of those with fewer than 50 employees ) simply assume that they are too small to warrant adopting a LMS.
- Cost: Many small companies assume LMSs are not within the budget of a small company.
- Limited training needs: Many small companies believe that their training needs are limited, since they deliver a single streamlined product or service to a restricted market.
In fact, no company is too small to adopt a LMS and in many cases, small and even very small companies have just as much to benefit from adopting a LMS as larger companies. More importantly, there are affordable LMS solutions on the market designed for business budgets of all sizes.
Adopting a LMS can Help Your Small Company Grow
As an example, it is useful to consider the training needs of Telvin Brothers Construction, a family-owned construction company based in Wisconsin. Telvin Brothers Construction is run by Troy Telvin and Kevin Telvin who learned the building trade from their father. Since taking over their father’s business in the late 1980s, Troy and Kevin have taken their father’s family business—essentially, a one-man show with support from his sons—and turned it into one of the most successful construction companies in their region. While they primarily build homes and small subdivisions in a town with just over 6,000 residents, over the past two decades, Troy and Kevin have hired, trained and supervised an estimated 300 full- and part-time workers. Indeed, depending on the season and number of contracts they have at the time, their small business has at times had as many as 50 employees.
On the surface, their training needs may appear limited but in fact over the years, their training needs have increased for several reasons. First, their workforce is simply larger than it was in the late 1980s when they took over the business from their father. Second, today, fewer young workers in the construction industry arrive on the job with an already well-developed set of skills. This is partly due to the fact that there are far fewer family-run businesses in the trade than there were fifty years ago and traditionally, this was precisely how building skills, like framing and wiring, were acquired. Third, the construction industry is subject to far more regulations (e.g., concerning safety and compliance) than it was even twenty years ago. While both Troy and Kevin welcome the industry’s increased focus on safety and compliance, it means that it is increasingly important to ensure that their workers have been properly trained before ever stepping foot on a work site. Of course, finding time and a viable method to properly train their workers, many of whom are temporary and/or seasonable, has proven challenging. During the building season, both brothers are often working up to 12 hours a day, leaving little time for training.
So what might Telvin Brothers Construction have to gain from adopting a LMS?
- First, adopting a LMS would help the brothers ensure that all their workers across all their work sites are receiving the same training. In the past, the brothers have often worked with separate crews and as a result, they were not always fully aware of which workers had received which forms of training.
- Second, a LMS would enable the brothers to deliver more training outside work hours and offsite. With long days, especially in the summer, asking workers to complete a training seminar on safety or compliance during the workday is unrealistic. A LMS would enable the brothers to provide their workers with access to key training modules that can be completed outside of regular work hours. With a LMS, Telvin Brothers Construction could also gather data on who had and had not completed specific training modules and follow up with workers as required.
- Finally, a major concern for the brothers is the fact that while some of their younger workers arrive just out of high school and have no experience in the construction industry, other workers on their sites are veterans in the industry. As a result, both Troy and Kevin recognize the need to personalize training. Adopting a LMS would enable them to more easily create worker-specific training packages.
Notably, studies suggest that training is a key way to help small businesses grow. Training employees has been proven to increase employee retention and productivity. With affordable solutions on the market, the right LMS can enable even the smallest businesses to scale up.