It is very easy for small business owners to overlook training and development. There are always pressures on time and money, and you may see staff development as a luxury that you cannot afford.
But a programme of continuous training covering all of your employees could mean the difference between success and failure. Ongoing training can also give you a powerful advantage over your competitors.
Staff Are Your Biggest Asset
Many businesses neglect training: A 2013 review of entrepreneurial trends by insurance specialist Hiscox showed that 55% of small firms provided no training at all during the year.
Yet, for most companies, staff are the major resource. And like any business asset, you need to keep employees’ skills in good working order. You would service your company vehicles, and maintain your machinery, so why not do the same for your staff?
According to HR expert Josh Bersin, “High-performing companies spend more. Companies which fall into our ‘high-impact’ categories spend significantly more on training than average.”
Melvin Scales of Right Management found that “organizations providing career development opportunities are almost 2.5 times more likely to be productive than organizations that do not.”
Spending on staff training can lead to higher productivity and better staff engagement, both wins for your business. Likewise, not investing in training can result in a significant downside. For instance, accidents can happen as a result of insufficient awareness of Health and Safety [or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)] procedures.
Increased Business Productivity
Of course, most businesses are aware of the need to train new staff, or to explain changes to existing procedures, but they often forget that it is just as important to have a continuous development plan for existing employees.
Businesses give even staff who undertake routine tasks valuable development opportunities by keeping them up to date with changes in your industry and elsewhere in the company. You can also invest in soft skills such as customer service or teambuilding.
Change is a fact of business life, but if you neglect employee training your employees are likely to become bored and inflexible, making them less productive and more resistant to change when it occurs.
Conversely, if you have a multiskilled workforce it is much easier to redeploy them to other work when necessary, and to introduce new working practices. All of this is good for productivity and enables you to adapt to change much more quickly. It also assists with succession planning.
Training Improves Staff Engagement
It is essential for any business to motivate and engage its staff, and providing a training programme is a powerful way of doing so. A 2008 report by the UK Learning and Skills Council found that 21% of large employers say that improved motivation is a major reason for providing staff training, and 22% also cite their desire to “increase employees’ understanding of, or commitment to, the organisation.”
This is not surprising. Staff who feel that their employer values them are happier at work, and develop better team relationships. They are also much more likely to engage with the business and to take an interest in its processes – being on the front line of the business, employees can spot areas for improvement and suggest better ways of doing things.
These staff are also more liable to feel that they have a long-term future with the company. This is good for staff retention, and can reduce the need to spend time and money on recruiting new employees.
A Good Training Programme Will Pay for Itself
According to Jonathan Richards, CEO of breatheHR, “The good news is that [training] needn’t cost a fortune and with relatively little effort [employers] will increase productivity and reduce costs.”
Providing a continuous training programme does not have to be expensive and will provide benefits in terms of increased productivity, better motivation and morale, and lower staff turnover. As time goes on, you are likely to cover the costs many times over.