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Alistair Booth, Managing Director,The HR Booth
What if we train them and they leave?
What if we don’t and they stay?
This is a dilemma that many businesses face and the types of conversations I have regularly with business owners.
Developing people is often seen as a cost, and when there’s a downturn, one of the first things to be cut is the training budget.
What kind of message does this send to your people?
It makes them feel undervalued and that you don’t care about their development.
This leads to disengagement, which impacts on performance and productivity and could lead to high staff turnover – as a business owner you want to ensure you are retaining your best people.
To remain competitive, it’s important that your employees have the knowledge and skills to do the job, and to keep your customers happy.
Training and Development isn’t always about developing someone for a new role, it’s about ensuring they have the skills, knowledge and capability to do their existing job.
This could include keeping up to date with changes to technology, systems, product knowledge and the latest developments on customer service.
People want to be developed to ensure they are keeping their skills up to date.
This is a critical part of staff retention, and it should also form part of the company’s strategic plan.
Many businesses have a plan, which could include their sales and turnover target for the year, or new markets they want to compete in.
Quite often the piece that is missing from the plan is their people – the employees in the organisation.
If you have a plan and your people are not aware of this, how are you going to achieve this?
Let’s take sales increase as an example.
Say your business plans to increase sales by 20% this year, has this been shared with your employees and do they have the right skills and knowledge to support this?
It’s far easier to reach this target if you can up-sell to existing customers, but have your employees had the development to enable them to do this?
Up-selling might not come naturally to them so you need to think of ways to train them, whether it’s side by side coaching, mentoring or a more formal approach.
You then need to measure how effective this development was and also track how the individuals have performed against the objective.
This is just one example but can be replicated for other business goals.
Another important part of the strategic business plan is to look at the people you have in place just now and the roles you might need in future.
This includes any critical roles that could leave the business exposed should the person performing it leave, and what your contingency plan would be.
This is known as your succession plan, and it’s not just large organisations which should do this, it’s equally important for family run businesses, young companies and longer-established organisations.
Critical roles could include managerial or technical roles, and you should identify people who could have the potential to move into these roles in the next few years.
Where you identify who these people are, they should have a development plan which gives them exposure to this role.
In the event this position becomes available, you have an employee who understands your business, culture and customers who are either ready or almost ready for a move into that role.
The average cost per hire is over £1500 and potentially over £4000 for managerial roles, so recruitment can be a costly business – and you don’t always get it right.
That’s why it makes business sense to try and develop your existing talent.Some businesses may be looking to expand and open sites in other locations.
The succession plan can support this too, as you can establish which of your people could move into a future role.
It also provides the flexibility to relocate or work at another location, allowing you to expand with a blend of new employees and the best of your existing talent.
I appreciate that budgets are a factor, but there are some cost-effective options available to employers.
You can look at internal resources, and identify people who have the skills to develop your people through coaching, on the job and mentoring.
You can also consider e-learning, reading appropriate books and journals, and external courses either through a professional provider or college.
Skills Development Scotland offer some funding towards training and this is worth exploring. There are also a number of seminars and workshops run by Business Gateway Fife and the Chamber of Commerce which are free to attend.
So, to enable your business to grow, you need to look at how you can develop your employees and ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time to support you.