As business owners and managers, we all know the importance of ensuring that every dollar we spend is working for us, so with employment-related expenses being amongst the largest expenses that most businesses have, it’s essential to ensure that we invest particularly wisely in this area. Despite this, one area that often escapes scrutiny is staff training and development. 

It often seems to be the case, particularly in small to medium-sized businesses, that there is either very little investment in staff training and development, or else it is seen as a reward/recognition process for well-performing staff. Rarely is staff training and development viewed as it should be – a genuine investment which is properly planned, executed and evaluated to ensure a return on the investment. Take a moment to ask yourself: “How is staff development managed in my business?“;

  • How are development priorities determined (is it a case of “first in best dressed” or is it indeed treated as a form of recognition)? 
  • Is staff development linked directly to achievement of your business/strategic plans? 
  • Is there a separate budget allocated, or is it something you just have to find the money for when the need arises?
  • Have you considered the full range of training/learning options available or has your business traditionally focused on external seminars/workshops (eg. Other options include structured on-the-job training, mentoring/buddy systems, e-learning or self-paced learning, conferences, sponsoring TAFE or uni studies etc…)? 
  • What measures or other mechanisms does your business have in place to encourage and determine the extent to which learning has actually transferred into the workplace? 

In terms of determining development priorities, it is important for businesses to at least annually consider those needs that may emerge from a range of sources including;

  • Individual performance review outcomes 
  • Health and safety reviews, identified hazards and particular incidents (also consider regular training for first aid, emergency and evacuation etc…) 
  • New or planned plant and equipment/system and process changes 
  • Customer feedback 
  • Employment of new staff (do they have skill gaps that need filling?) 
  • Staff satisfaction/culture survey results 
  • Discussions with your supervisors/management team (what do they think are the priorities?) 
  • Strategic priorities, future plans and objectives (if you have a business plan/strategy, do you have the right skills in-house to help you achieve it?)
  • Succession planning considerations (if Jane is retiring soon and she knows how the office runs, what plans are in place to ensure things will continue to run smoothly?) 
  • Supervisory and management coaching/development
  • Individual skills audits. 

Only by using a planned, systematic approach to staff training and development can you be sure that you are getting value for your investment and positioning your business to achieve Success Through People.

Staff training and development sits firmly in the EQUIPPING OTHERS part of our exclusive Success Through People(c) Model, and there’s plenty of evidence to confirm that developing your people is indeed a key determinant of business success:

– Staff who receive formal training can be up to 230% more productive than untrained colleagues working in the same role (Business & Industry, Queensland Government)
– The three things Australians value most about their job are opportunities for advancement, training and having a clear career path (Mercer study, 2003)