The key to success is training

TRAINING staff at SMEs is the key to success, says Sheryl Newman

Investing in staff-training pays off in the long run. Picture: TSPL
Investing in staff-training pays off in the long run. Picture: TSPL

Change, as the old adage goes, is the only constant. In the ever-evolving marketplace, Scotland’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are at risk of succumbing to the pressures of modern business life if they’re not open to change. They must adapt, or risk slipping into the abyss.

It’s a scenario we know all too well. As skills gaps widen and profits become harder to attain, our SMEs need to be agile and react quickly to market conditions. But we can place our trust in our people. Our talented workforce holds the key to staying ahead.

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Technologies change at the drop of a hat and as employers, we owe it to our SME staff to arm them with the best knowledge possible.

There is a risk of information overload. We must not bombard our workforce with information that is non-applicable to their line of work. One to one, tailored learning led by an engaging and collaborative coach not only focuses learning to their individual needs, it eliminates wasteful sessions.

In my line of work I see the immediate benefit of tailored skills training. Employee confidence improves, individual performance is enhanced and staff members become further engaged. There is no price to be placed on the value of a empowered employee. It may seem like a cliché, but an investment in people is the best investment a business can make. In the same way a fit and healthy employee is safer, staff equipped with the right skills, training and knowledge will deliver optimum results.

Learning can be seen as a soft skill and can often appear at the bottom of boardroom agendas. Similarly, costs associated with training as well as time out for attending courses are often seen as key barriers for SMEs’ participation.

Scotland’s SME directors must make the pledge to change their attitudes to learning and development in order to prosper. The sooner business leaders understand the tangible link between education in the workplace and improved bottom lines, the better. For our SME population, sustainable business development is more crucial than ever. Knowledge is power in creating Scotland’s SMEs’ competitive advantage.

• Sheryl Newman is director of learning consultancies at Appetite for Business