Employers must consider training to keep their staff

In his first Western Mail column of the year, Acorn's Matt Southall says businesses should consider if they could do more to train their staff. 

The Talk Talk hack was once of the most high profile business stories of last year and while not every business will face security threats of that level, all businesses are constantly being threatened, one way or another.

Another potential threat to businesses this year is the EU referendum. The EU might have its problems but ultimately it remains our most important partner. Almost half our exports are to Europe and with £26.5bn invested in the UK from Europe; it would be hard to argue against the value of the relationship. 

So, there are the more obvious, external threats, such as cyber attacks or pressure from competitors and other market forces, and there are the internal threats, such as the loss of key team members, or under-performing staff, which can create problems from within.

Continuing skills shortage

I have spoken about this before, but the continuing skills shortage in a number of key areas will remain a serious issue for many businesses and the economy generally for 2016. 

Of course, the apprenticeship levy is set to come into being in 2017, which is a step in the right direction and could bring positive benefits for a huge number of people hoping to learn their trade while they earn. 

But before then, and in order to address some of the most pressing areas of skills shortages, employers of all sizes should consider the training and development of their staff - what they're doing and whether they could be doing more. 

Certainly for those in construction, engineering, IT and technical businesses, while there isn't a quick fix, organisations need to be planning and working out where their future workforce is going to come from, and of course how they will retain their current people.  

The results of the recent ‘best companies to work for’ survey demonstrate the importance of corporate culture and employee engagement. It is vital that we work hard to keep and nurture our current staff; a much more positive and financially sustainable option than frequently needing to replace them with new people.

It's accepted that times have changed and people are prepared to leave their jobs more frequently than they used to. However, while we might never achieve 100% retention, we can certainly work to get the very best out of the people we have and keep as many of them as we can. 

Top of most employees' lists of what they want to entice them to say is an investment in their future. People want to know that they are valued and can have a future within the organisation.

This doesn't necessarily need to be in the guise of expensive courses, it can include placing staff into in-house training programmes, sending them to conferences or to one-day training courses - anything that develops them, can help them to improve productivity and that shows you consider them worth the investment. 

One MD was once asked by a colleague 'what if we pay to develop and train our staff and they leave us?’ to which the MD replied, 'what if we don't, and they stay?'

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