To say technology is moving quickly is an understatement; and as much as consumers struggle to keep up with the latest gadget or tech trend, businesses are desperately trying to stay on top of the new tech tools available to them.
In such a fast-moving, digital-first world, employees need to stay up to date with the latest technology and digital services as clients increasingly demand bespoke solutions and real-time support.
However, all too often the emphasis of staying on top of the latest advances and changes can fall to the employees themselves, with businesses failing to invest enough effort – and money – in professional training and development.
This is a dangerous situation for a business to find itself in. Both in the sense that it is relying on its workers to take the initiative with their own learning, and that the business risks giving the impression that it simply doesn’t care about employee progression.
Research by PwC has found that workers, particularly younger employees, now value development above financial rewards. Investing more in training could turn out to be the cheaper option, compared to the potential recruitment costs if your employees go elsewhere looking for a better opportunity.
When it comes to training, there are substantial benefits to a business if it creates an internal training scheme. This by no means must be a fully-fledged Academy, but upskilling or reskilling your existing talent is a far better option than being forced to recruit to fill job roles.
Every employee will have some areas where the depth of knowledge can be improved. Businesses are in a perfect position to identify these weak areas and boost employee knowledge. Employers should encourage their workforce to never stop learning. Learning new skills empowers the workforce and drives them on to succeed and do more – this enthusiasm then feeds back into the wider business and improves the whole culture.
Taking a flexible and modern approach to workplace education and creating bespoke training schemes can quickly equip employees with the skills the business need most desperately, and then continue to build an infrastructure and set processes around the development of existing talent.
Boosting employee engagement and retention
Training and development are becoming key factors for workers when deciding whether to take a new job or stay with their current employer.
Whether it’s younger workers who are looking for opportunities to boost their skill set and advance through a business, or older workers who are still motivated to stay on top of their game, personal development is an important aspect of business culture.
Businesses that are able to boost engagement with their employees are known to benefit from increased morale – with workers left feeling that their boss actually cares about their progression, rather than just what they can do for the business – which in turn leads to increased productivity and better results for the overall business.
As well as boosting the skills of employees, the creation of internal training programmes is known to increase morale – and can bring teams closer together; this is something all businesses should consider creating as part of their offering.
On the flip side, businesses that fail to engage their employees effectively risk alienating the workforce and suffering from lack of productivity, motivation, and ultimately declining sales and increased costs as employees look to move elsewhere.
Maximise the skills you have
Bringing in external talent to fill a vacancy is the obvious, and most frequent, solution to a skill shortage. However, more businesses should take the time to consider the prospect that their next hire is already in the business.
Current employees may not have the skill level they need for a more senior role, but that is nothing that a training programme cannot fix. It might be that a current employee needs a few months training and they’ll be ready to take on more responsibility.
Considering how costly and time-consuming a recruitment drive can become – particularly today with the UK’s tech skills gap creating a candidate driven market – upskilling and promoting from within could be the better option.
Not to mention that existing employees bring with them something an external candidate never can – a depth of existing knowledge of the business and its culture.
By educating, challenging and engaging more with employees, businesses have the opportunity to equip their workforce with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to produce better work and stay with them for longer.
Removing the “traditional” and rigid learning model from education and creating training sessions that stimulate learning, creative thinking and challenge pre-existing ideas, businesses have the opportunity to develop their talent exactly as they want and need.
In the long term, this could be the answer to the skills gap that is currently looming over the UK.
Richard Dennys is the CEO of Webgains, an affiliate marketing network and part of ad pepper media.