• 17 September 2014

Small businesses are still struggling to invest in training

Whilst it is widely acknowledged that training is an essential part of a business’s ability to progress, UK small businesses are struggling to invest in training due to a mindset of reduced spending during the recession according to business improvement strategist and professional trainer, Sylvia Baldock, who explains further in her latest blog. 

Training is still being seen as a luxury rather than necessity because of a lack of conscious acknowledgement of the benefits of training. Training can have a huge impact on a business from helping address employee challenges to ensuring worker satisfaction; enabling them to play to their strengths which ultimately improves performance, motivation and confidence in speaking to and dealing with colleagues and clients. 

It’s important to also remember that training increases productivity, helps overcome business challenges, increases platforms and scope for growth and improves quality of services. Furthermore, training helps the optimal utilisation of human resources in a company and can mean a reduction in supervision. 

Even if you only have a small training budget, continually invest in your team and yourself to ensure you are at the cutting edge. Work out a training budget and make sure you value everyone by spreading the budget across the team. And if your business is just you, it is equally important to retrain so you can authentically remain an expert in your field. 

We all need continual learning and development and it is vital to have a responsive workforce which is ready and equipped to take on other roles should the requirements of the business change. Once newly trained, give employees new roles and responsibilities aligned with their natural talents to make them feel more valued within the company. 

When looking for people to act as trainers, always be careful of people who say they are trainers but are actually just knowledgeable in their field. Ask for recommendations from the business you network with for people with a great track record who have strong personal presence and will be able to engage your team and are highly recommended by others. 

If you are training a bigger group to solve specific problems, consider bringing a trainer on site, which can save time and can be much more effective. Your team is far more likely to ask questions of an outside trainer or coach than an internal employee hoping to achieve the same goals as a professional trainer. 

It is critical to make it a continuous learning process where variation and development is offered to all employees, not just new employees. Having a training budget where you are offering training in the correct areas for each individual and providing training by an expert will help keep your team engaged, motivated and productive, as with everything in life, the more you put in, the more you get out. 

Here are my top tips on training in small business: 

Start small: Before embarking on a new training programme, look at your team and see if any of them are well equipped to host a first step training session. Start a mentoring programme by partnering new or less experienced employees with mentors so that they can learn from senior people. Allow the less experienced to attend important off site meetings with a more senior member of staff. 

Identify the training gaps: Identify the areas you feel the team are challenged and see if this correlates with their perceived training needs. It is key that you both agree on the needs as you could be spending well earned money on an area that does not and never will interest them. 

Talents: Work out where the talent lies in your team and where the weaknesses are. Don’t just choose training for an individual in an area in which they lack knowledge or finesse, nurture their talents and enable them to become an expert in their area of interest and talent too. 

Pick a good space: A training environment can affect the quality of the learning. The location needs to have sufficient space and the necessary equipment such as a projector, Wi-Fi and tea and coffee facilities. Sometimes it is better to do training away from the office to revitalise the team. It also makes them feel valued that you have invested in their development in an environment that says you care about them. 

Set goals and measure success: Before embarking on any training programme, be specific about the goals you and your employees want to achieve from it. Enforce annual performance reviews with each employee and assess the impact that the training has had on the performance of the business. Make sure you listen fully to their feedback so they feel you value their input.