In our experience we have found that one of the first budgets our clients’ (and most companies) cut when times are tough is the Training and Development budget, but often this is a short-sighted decision and we always recommend clients play the long field! Unfortunately, only too often, when things pick up we find it is one of the last budgets to be restored to its ‘pre-downturn’ level.
When times are tough, we remind our clients that their success and future prosperity relies not just on their customers but in their “key people” – the ones’ their business couldn’t do without. These individuals are invaluable. They have already been woven into the fabric of the company; they know the organisation and their jobs really well, they’ve already received a significant investment from the company in terms of time, training etc. and to replace them would be very costly. Therefore, the business must make every reasonable effort to retain them so that their knowledge, skills and experience can enable the Company to meet its objectives and remain competitive.
One way to keep these key people loyal is continuing to make them feel special and offering new challenges, new responsibilities and encouraging career development. In a growing economy money, and therefore by default, salary is king so it’s an employees market! In a downturn, retaining your key people (who won’t forget how they have been treated!) is down to motivation, a vital tool that will ensure staff continue to feel valued and to put in as much extra effort as possible! One way to motivate is to develop but this doesn’t have to mean expensive training courses and grand development gestures.
Instead, we advise our clients that staff development doesn’t need to be expensive. Free but excellent suggestions such as job shadowing can, in some cases, actually suit the individuals learning style better than an expensive training course. It can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the individual(s) and the business, use company equipment and be in surroundings the member of staff is familiar and confident with, and use the knowledge and skills and experience of colleagues.
Our clients are encouraged to use other staff to develop their team, which provides those staff with a development opportunity (assuming they have the requisite skills and don’t just pass on all the bad habits!). This also saves management time, and some people may find it less threatening and be more likely to ask questions, and, therefore, find they learn more.
We encourage managers to be proactive in identifying and agreeing development opportunities with their staff, e.g. coaching, shadowing, job rotation, project work, delegation; attending exhibitions, meetings, visiting clients/agencies etc. Managers are recommended to remind staff to keep their eyes open for suitable development opportunities themselves, and be supportive of their suggestions wherever possible.
All these methods can be extremely effective but we remind managers of the importance of evaluating each of them and treating them the same as formal training, in terms of regular reviews to ensure their effectiveness, relevance and validity to the individual, the team and the business –has the need/objective been met? It’s equally important for those taking part to see them as valuable development tools from which they can benefit and, therefore, their organisation will benefit. We try to ensure that managers allow their staff to put their new knowledge and skills into practice, and appreciate that increased skills and knowledge should lead to a more successful team and business, which in turn will reflect well on them as managers.
It’s also possible that during a ‘downturn’ companies may have less work, so one way we advise it may be possible to keep staff busy and interested is to allow them to use this time to up-date and develop their skills and experience at little cost to the business but of great benefit.
‘External training’ is not always the best solution and we encourage our clients to be more creative and cost-effective in their approach to developing their staff when times are tough, thereby retaining high quality experienced staff and improving their business.
Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.