Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Use training as a retention and growth strategy tool in SMEs

Training and education opportunities are typically offered in larger organisations. They often have Learning and Development Managers who organise training budgets and requirements for all staff. Training is just as critical in SMEs but is often overlooked due to the perceived costs, the organisation of training requirements, and the valuable time that may not be spent on the business.

For SMEs, it is a matter of approaching training opportunities in a practical way. The first step is to analyse the skill gaps in your business. It can be an exercise for all staff in your business to analyse their existing role and consider what skills they would like to improve on to benefit the business. For example, the office manager may require MYOB training, or the marketing manager may require training in social media. All training options must be relevant to the employee’s role. You may find that rather than hiring another employee due to a skill gap, you could train up an existing employee. This training analysis not only engages your employees, but also creates a sense of loyalty because you are investing in their skills. After training is completed, you and your employee should be able to identify how the business will benefit from the new skills that have been developed. 

Once you have decided on the appropriate type of training, you could create a simple training agreement that covers the following:
  • Type of training
  • Justification for training
  • Learning objectives to be achieved
  • How training will be evaluated (e.g. changes anticipated, performance standards to be met)
  • Cost of training
  • Date of training
The next step is to identify training and education opportunities that fit your budget. For some professionals, professional development (PD) must be completed every year. The professional associations tend to offer a range of courses to build up PD hours.

Other cost effective training options can be sourced via the following channels:
  • Your local TAFE, CIT or University
  • Locate Registered Training Organisations in your area and ask if there are any Government subsidies currently being offered to up-skill employees. Visit www.training.gov.au for more information 
  • Free webinars offered on business websites such as www.smartcompany.com.au
  • CareerMums training website has a range of learning options including online, distance learning, face-to-face, and short courses. http://careermums.comparecourses.com.au/
Training is a risk management tool that builds human assets in your business, opens up new opportunities for your business, and engenders a loyal workforce.

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