As businessman Richard Branson once said: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” Yet, busy with everyday business, firms all too often ignore the training and development of employees. However, once employers are reminded about the business benefits of nurturing their staff, they may want to re-prioritise this often-overlooked activity.
Only 14% of UK employees were receiving ‘job-related training’ during a snapshot of the last three months of 2016 (Labour Force Survey, Feb 2017). Where it is provided, it is often cursory and feels like going through the motions. Time and budgetary constraints are often given as reasons for cutting back on any activities considered ‘non-essential’.
Small to medium businesses can find it especially challenging when they don’t have dedicated training staff on board to organise a comprehensive and meaningful development programme. There are compelling reasons, however, why firms could be missing a trick with their training and development plans.
Some of the benefits of training and development for the individual and the company:
- Increases productivity – productivity continues to be a national concern with rates below 2007 levels and with the UK’s productivity lagging behind the US, France and Germany (BBC). Firms are therefore encouraged to upskill their workers – more highly-skilled staff will perform better not just because of their training but due to increased motivation and engagement.
- Reduces staff turnover – seven out of ten employees say that training and development influenced their decision to stay in a company. With the lowest rates of unemployment seen in the UK for many years, employers will want to do all they can to hang on to good employees who will view training as a perk.
- Increases competitiveness – your better trained staff will help your firm to stay ahead in the competitive stakes because you will be making the best use of your human resources – upskilled staff will strive harder, innovate more and generally be more pro-active.
- Better workforce planning – for good succession planning and business continuity you should have available more than one member of staff who can perform certain tasks or is suitably qualified so that the company is not caught out when they are off or leave the business.
- Tackles low-performing staff – many businesses have some ‘mediocre’ staff, something which typically comes to light after a very small firm has scaled up after a period of rapid expansion. Offering training is a way of injecting new enthusiasm and giving every chance to under-performers before the need to turn to any more drastic action.
- Boosts morale – while some employees may be initially reluctant to sign-up for additional training and development, once the course is completed and the certificate in their hand, it can foster a sense of pride, giving a valuable boost to morale. Training and development is a key way of encouraging good employee engagement.
- Aids effective recruitment – the offer of training and development will make you an attractive employer to new talent. New and younger recruits often have different expectations – millennials expect more from employment and updating skills is a key attraction.
So make the most of your human resources – start to identify the skills your business is likely to need in the coming years. It may be sector-specific technical skills with an external accredited body (e.g. forklift licences in the construction, manufacturing and warehousing sectors), customer-facing training or softer skills such as time management and communication.
Re-prioritise the spend available and seek out funding opportunities – for example, firms in the West Yorkshire area are able to share in a local College’s £5.5m windfall to help local employers train low-skilled workers to boost their career progression.
You may want to increase productivity and competitiveness or prepare your workforce for business growth or a change in business direction in which new skills are required. With the many benefits flowing from training and developing your staff, it’s sure to be an investment which will pay off. It will help future-proof your business and keep your business one step ahead.
With Chronologic’s workforce management solution, alongside time & attendance and scheduling you have the ability to store and manage HR related information such as employee training information. Alerts and workflows can be set up to ensure, for example, that training happens when it should.