Updated: Mar 7, 2020
This is part two of our series on candidate attraction for SME employers. You can read part one here.
In part one, we looked at the struggle for the best staff and listed a number of strategies that can help smaller employers to really punch above their weight when it comes to candidate attraction. We promised that we'd go into more depth for each of the suggestions, so this week we're going to focus on providing opportunities for staff to flex and hone their skills: take a look with us at staff training and the benefits for your business.
Learning & Development strategies can really help your business to thrive in a competitive market, but for some smaller employers, training can seem difficult, time-consuming or expensive. There is often a perception that training can cause a lot of disruption and that tangible benefits can be hard to realise.
So what are the benefits? Can you really afford to ignore this important area of doing business?
“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
–Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company
Let's deal straight away with one objection that often seems to come up when talking about training: managers and business owners can sometimes be hesitant about training because of the fear that once staff have been upskilled, they will take their new skills and leave for pastures new. No business wants to spend time and money on staff development and then not realise the fruits of that investment, but I would counter the objection with a question. Would you, as an employer, rather have a business that performs at its best or conversely, always seems to have a piece of the puzzle missing? Do you want your business to be an attractive, sought after employer or are you happy with the status quo?
Did you know that, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers? To put that another way, better training leads to improved stability in your workforce and consequently, better overall performance from more experienced and knowledgeable team members.
With that in mind, what are the main benefits of a great learning and development strategy?
The website managementhelp.org has an in depth piece on training, but the main reasons given can be summarised as:
We're not going to look at all points in depth here, but instead just briefly focus on candidate attraction - we are a recruitment consultancy after all - and quickly describe how training can improve the recruitment situation for your business.
The relationship between training your current workforce and attracting new staff may seem a little counterintuitive, but it's been shown that teams perform better when all members are motivated and feel valued, not only that, teams that perform better, naturally develop a better reputation within the wider market and consequently attract interest from staff already working in similar roles at other organisations.
People really do want to be part of successful, high-performing teams. Imagine just how powerful it would be if your job adverts explained the great opportunities for learning and growth that you as an employer could offer new staff.
Just think, how would your business perform if you could take your pick from a slew of candidates who knock on your door, instead of having to search for new staff at length? As an extension to that, how would your business benefit if your staff numbers were more stable and your hiring decisions could be based on growth plans and not forced by back-filling previously filled vacancies? A well thought out training regime can help achieve this and the best performing companies already have this baked into their strategy.
Training is expensive!
Some employers feel that training can be costly, but it really doesn't have to be. There are a number of low cost options available that can be utilised with almost no disruption in smaller businesses.
The easiest option is often online training, which can be rolled out to staff as needed. This can cover areas where you as an employer have a duty to offer training, but don't want your entire workforce in a classroom for hours at a time. Team members can complete modules at their own pace and most courses include tests to make sure that the knowledge has sunk in. Short courses like this are great for subjects like GDPR.
Another great choice for SME organisations is often apprenticeships. If your last experience of apprenticeships was years ago, it may be time to let go of any preconceived ideas you hold onto. Apprenticeships now cover all levels of training up to and including level 7 (or the equivalent of a Masters level qualification) and unlike the apprenticeships of old, day release is no longer compulsory, although staff will need to spend 20% of their paid time training (called Off The Job Training).
Off The Job Training can even include shadowing other departments, so this is where a good training provider can work with you to design a program of training activities that truly benefits your business and helps achieve your goals. For example, in smaller businesses, it can often be beneficial if every team member can step into any position and be productive; work shadowing can make this possible. Wouldn’t it be great if you as the employer didn’t have the worry that holiday or sick leave could lead to you tearing your hair out?
Modern apprenticeships cover all manner of specialisms and if you choose your provider carefully, can be used to really upskill your team and drive your business forward. The great news is that apprentices can start training at any age, don’t have to agree to a reduction in salary and if you’re a smaller employer, (with less than a £3,000,000 annual payroll) the government will still cover 95% of the cost of training.
You can access full-length, quality courses for your staff, reaping all the benefits in performance, consistency and motivation, while the investment required from you, can in many cases, be less than the cost of a one or two day short course in a classroom setting.
What was that about training being expensive?
One caveat about apprenticeships: Ofsted and the Education and Skills Funding Agency have expressed concerns about businesses focusing on higher level apprenticeships for management staff only. They’re starting to make noises and the government may change the rules although, as of now, there are very few restrictions on who may access funding.
The restrictions at present primarily affect qualified staff who cannot receive funding for lower level courses in subject fields that they are already trained in: a Software Engineer with an IT degree couldn’t receive funding for a level 3 qualification in IT, although that same engineer would be eligible for funding for a level 3 qualification in Team Leading.
We hope that this post has sparked a few thoughts about how training can help your business to flourish and grow and at the same time, has reassured you that training doesn't have to be an expensive drain on your budget.
We at The Recruitment Geeks are not just another Recruitment Agency but instead work hard to provide
a consultative service, that can help you to realise the potential your business already has. If you would like to discuss how we can work with you, our Project Geek, Brian would be happy to help.