Back to school

Some CEOs still regard training and education as unnecessary expenses with no detectable payoff.

But companies that offer routine employee training programs know better — training plays a critical role in helping them maintain a competitive advantage, they say.

If sending your employees to a weeklong seminar in Florida that they may or may not attend sounds too risky, there are easier, local training options you can adopt to keep the skills of your work force sharpened.

For one, you can conduct on-site training sessions as short as 15 minutes on subjects such as HTML coding or public speaking. Or if your employees work different schedules, consider including a half-day training class at your next company meeting.

Some local business offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees who want to pursue a degree part-time in a business-related area. If you can’t afford to reimburse college tuition, consider giving paid time off to employees who return to school.

Locally, there are many structured education and training programs. If your business is in Akron, you may want to check out the workshops offered by the Greater Akron Chamber’s Business Training Institute. Toni Tzenova, coordinator of the Institute, says the most requested training areas today among small to mid-sized companies are time management, supervising and business-to-business sales. Most workshops last about three hours and are presented by local and national experts.

Jeff Ruby, a sales and management trainer and president of The Rudy Group in Cuyahoga Falls, concurs that sales training is the most requested training area today. He says sales training has become especially popular in recent months among nonselling professionals. He’s seen an increase in the number of accounting, engineering and law firms requesting training in nontraditional sales skills like networking, prospecting and asking for referrals.

These companies have realized, he says, that an economic downturn may be the best time to sharpen your work force.

Connie Swenson