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Five top tips on investing in staff development

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 | By Katie Booth, Spencer Ogden
Katie Booth

In an increasingly competitive environment, it is very important that companies of all sizes are able to attract talented staff. 

But it’s not just a question of attracting them. You must be prepared to invest in your employees to create a really dynamic and enthusiastic workforce. In turn, the quality of your staff will help to differentiate your business from its competitors. 

Working out which areas require investment can be tricky but it is ultimately a question of what will drive the business forward the most. As a result, staff training should be top of the list as a means of making the business more efficient and contributing to its overall success. In a service business it is essential that every interaction a client, partner or affiliate has is a good one and training is key to ensuring this.

At Spencer Ogden, we’ve grown to nearly 400 staff across 15 offices globally in just four years so we have learnt a lot about training in that time. This growth has been underpinned by investing heavily in regular, quality training of staff to maintain high standards of performance across the business. 

Training is a very good way of ensuring your brand retains its quality as it grows. After all, your staff are your brand ambassadors, so it is essential that they deliver your ethos and company values.

Below are five top tips on how to maximise the benefits of training to support the growth of your business:

1. Maximise opportunities for new joiners: New recruits are the future of any business. By providing training and coaching from day one, you can give them the chance to learn from employees that are already established within the business. Taking such a proactive approach helps build the confidence of new starters and creates a more rewarding place to work. 

2. Provide ongoing support: Introductory training is just the start. Both entry level and experienced employees need support throughout their career to advance personal skills and contribute to the success of the business. Regular catch-ups between trainers and managers means they can provide a constant needs analysis process for employees at all levels and give a tailored approach to development.

3. Retain top talent: Talented people naturally want to advance quickly so look to provide meaningful support to make this achievable – a dedicated training programme to facilitate progression is one of the best ways to approach this. Investing in the training of these ambitious employees, particularly to enhance leadership skills, will pay huge dividends and opportunities to progress, and added responsibility will make the team more focused and efficient while building loyalty.

4. Learn from employee feedback: Encourage staff to relay whether they thought the training was relevant to them. One of the best ways to gauge the effectiveness of your training programmes is to encourage honest discussions about them – from both the trainee and manager. If employees feel they are improving, and the results are evident, the investment is all the more worthwhile. 

Avoid asking participants to write follow-up reports and make the feedback sessions as personable as possible. The less paperwork the better; discussions will provide more information and encourage suggestions on areas for improvement.

5. Tailor training programmes to your needs: There are lots of options out there. Whether it is carefully selected external training courses, more strategically developed internal training programmes or a mixture of the two, all of them can help your business reap the rewards. Researching the options and picking the right blend helps staff to develop vital skills as well as maximising the value of your investment. 

Our trainers are former consultants, team leaders and managers, meaning that they understand the daily pressures of a recruitment business and the needs of trainees. This is what has made our investment most profitable.

Ultimately, staff development requires investment. Gaining a reputation for providing ongoing employee training has many benefits and, crucially for a candidate-led market, it will help your business attract and retain top talent as it grows.

Every business needs to recognise that employees are its principle asset. Therefore, putting skills at the forefront of your business plan will give you a competitive edge. Investing thoughtfully and strategically in developing these skills will pay off not only in the short term but also in the future.

Katie Booth is head of training and development at global energy specialist recruiter Spencer Ogden.

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