How employee training benefits the business

Successful firms have a secret “X” factor – the factor which can massively enhance sustained productivity and competitive advantage. Want to know what is? In a word: training.

OK, it’s not the only factor but it’s certainly a major one. Yet struggling firms in our tough economic climate are frequently tempted to cut training budgets as a means of keeping costs to a minimum. In many respects this is a misguided and counterproductive option as an unskilled workforce is bad for business, bad for profits and bad for customers.

For one thing, if you want to keep costs to a minimum, try warding off recruitment fees. When employees leave and posts need to be filled, recruiters trouser a tidy sum of your firm’s hard-earned money. Providing training and opportunities for professional development for staff is known to increase both their motivation and their loyalty. Instead of recruiting from outside the firm, when you’ve skilled your own people up, recruiters don’t get a look-in – you can promote to senior posts internally if your workforce has been equipped with the requisite skills.

Providing administrative staff with accountancy courses, for instance, can hugely increase the efficiency of your firm. Industry-recognised, relevant accountancy courses needn’t cost an arm and a leg: distance-learning options are highly economical financially and in terms of the time investment required to complete the course. Employees don’t have to take days off to attend campus-based training events, and the skills they acquire rival those obtained in traditional classroom-based courses. All they need is a little time (a few hours a week, even the occasional lunch break) and access to the internet.

Training your staff to remain current has other business advantages; staying on top of new policies and rules means that you achieve much better compliance – and that means fewer expensive mistakes and massively reduced risks of wince-inducing litigation.  Well informed employees tend to please your customers, too.

Another plus is being able to spread the benefits. One good policy to adopt is to require staff who skill up on training to share their knowledge with others. To stay with the example of accountancy courses, arrange some informal lunchtime meetings for the employee-student to share his or her new knowledge to a group of relevant staff. Your workforce can feed themselves with new skills at the same time as they feed themselves with lunch. In other words, training doesn’t just benefit one employee – you can see to it that they benefit all relevant staff, too.

Don’t underestimate the impact of training on individual employees, either. Research consistently shows that their productivity and efficiency increases, as does their commitment to the company. People don’t enjoy stagnating, doing the same things day in, day out, with little prospect of progression. Training opens doors, improving employee career prospects – prospects which they are much more likely to pursue in the company that trained them.

A final suggestion: the more able you are to allow employees to choose the training which interests them, the more likely and palpable the loyalty and productivity spin-offs become.

In short, this isn’t just a question of train and survive; its train and thrive.
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