When Budgets Are Tight Should Training Take A Back Seat?

In the current economic climate, the majority of organisations are working within restricted budgets, which is leading to cuts in certain aspects of business which don’t give an immediate return. Making sure staff are properly trained is the best investment possible, particularly for any business wishing to survive and thrive long into the future. A business as a whole, improves if the budget for training is used wisely and employees are trained properly.

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Staff may not be a tangible asset, but for almost every business they are its most valuable resource. Yet when profit margins are being squeezed, the temptation is to cut back on any expenditure that is deemed non-essential. Sadly, staff training often falls into this category.

Essential skills
You would not leave your machinery without regular maintenance, so why neglect the staff, the people who are generating profits for your business? For some employers, training is something that only happens when staff are first recruited. However, successful businesses know that staff skills need updating on a continuous basis.

Change is a fact of modern life, whatever business you are in. Employees who are aware of all the latest trends, and whose skills are right up to date, will present a more professional image when dealing with your customers. They will also be ready to help the company to move on when you want to expand or change direction.

Essential skills do not just include those that are needed to do the job. A surprising number of employers pay scant regard to regulatory requirements, particularly with respect to Health and Safety. This could be a very expensive omission if things go wrong, to say nothing of the possible damage to your reputation.

Better staff engagement
There are a number of less obvious benefits to having a structured staff training programme. One of these is staff motivation. Investing in staff makes them feel valued: according to the government’s Learning and Skills Council, “Over 45 per cent of staff say they would feel more motivated if their employer invested in their skills”. They will also see that they are regarded as having a long term future with the company. In turn, this will lead to improved morale at work and better relationships between employees.

Staff who are engaged with their work tend to identify more closely with the aims of the company. They speak about it positively to family and friends, and actively look for ways of making the business work even better. All of this reduces sickness and absenteeism, and encourages long term staff retention.

Indirect benefits of training
Even in relatively static industries, staff can benefit from training programmes. Employees who are regularly exposed to new ideas have been shown to be more innovative and creative. It is often the people who are working on the front line who spot problems and opportunities, and who can suggest solutions that will benefit the business. Regular training makes people more flexible, too, meaning that they may be receptive to transferring to other types of work if the business requires it. Improved psychological health, communication skills and higher learning adherence have all been cited as benefits of training programmes.

Properly targeted training will always provide a return on investment. It helps to maintain a competitive edge, reduce staff turnover and improve profitability. In these troubled times, who could ask for more than that?

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