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Invest in your business by investing in skills

Finding and recruiting employees with the skills needed to help your business grow can be difficult and often costly. One way to help you up skill your staff is to provide training to the employees you already have.

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Finding and recruiting employees with the skills needed to help your business grow can be difficult and often costly.

One way to help you up skill your staff is to provide training to the employees you already have. This can also have the added benefit of helping to motivate and retain good employees, by investing in their professional development.

Assess your needs

Training should be mutually beneficial to both the organisation and the employee.

Before offering or looking for any training, you first need to identify where there are skills gaps in your workforce and which you need to help you meet your company's objectives. For example, these could be related to IT, sales and marketing or management.

Employees may also feel that they have areas of their job where performance could be improved by training. Find out your employees' training needs through regular appraisals.

Set objectives

Before you or your employees embark on any training, you first need to establish what you expect to get out of your investment.

Benefits include improved employee motivation, resulting in increased productivity and profits plus reduced staff turnover and absenteeism.

It may be difficult to attribute all of this to training, but try to set some clear, achievable goals that are tied in to your company's goals.

The outcome for the employee might be that, once they are trained, they can carry out a certain task or be promoted to a different role.

Identify exactly how training will improve the current situation for both you and the employee and agree a schedule.

Types of training

Informal, on the job training – train up employees to do more skilled jobs by allowing them to shadow and learn from existing members of staff.

Short courses – depending on how much and what your employee needs to learn, courses lasting one or two days may be sufficient. These can either be carried out externally or a trainer can come into your workplace if enough people need training.

Online training – this can usually be carried out in or out of work at the employee's own leisure.

Training outside of work – employees may study courses and qualifications at local colleges part-time or in the evening. 

Accredited courses – some professions may require employees to undertake qualifications or assessments that are awarded by an examining body. These are generally more expensive, but can be more valuable to both the employer and employee than equivalent unaccredited courses.

A recent survey of Forum members found that many small businesses are favouring affordable training solutions over outsourced courses.

Choosing a training provider

If you can't provide sufficient training and coaching in-house, you may need to find an external company. Make sure that they understand your objectives and the sector you work in.

Overall, the course should represent good value for money. Ask to be put in touch with satisfied participants or testimonials, or ask other business owners for recommendations.

Funding

Whilst grants have become harder to find, some public funding is still available for small businesses. We can help Forum members to find and apply for grants.

If you do pay for training on behalf of an employee, you are advised to ask them to sign an agreement stating how much they agree to pay back if they leave before finishing the training or a specified time after.

Outcomes

Finally, measure the results of the training – did it meet its objectives? Did the employee find it useful? This can help you to plan any training for the future.

For further help and advice, call the Forum helpline on 0845 130 1722.

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