Chances are that in the early years of running a business you were flat out managing rapid growth and assembling a dedicated team. But as your business evolves, your team also needs to continuously develop their skills and knowledge. That’s when you need to get serious about staff training and professional development.

Studies show that training can increase workplace productivity by more than 8%, exceeding the wage gains of upskilled staff. But more than that, employees often report that they value the opportunity to use their skills and abilities at work more highly than pay.

In other words, training has benefits for your employees as well as your business. It builds staff confidence and motivation. It also provides employees with opportunities for advancement and a reason to stay with your company.

“In other words, training has benefits for your employees as well as your business.”

There’s one proviso though: The training you choose must be appropriate for the needs of your business and your staff. Perhaps you have introduced new technology, or moved into new business areas. Or your expanding business has revealed weaknesses in your back office or management process. So start by identifying any skills gaps, then look at the skills your employees already have.

Likewise, some training can be mandatory, such as work health and safety, depending on the nature of your business and the industry you operate in. While some professions are legally required to undergo continuing professional development. An important element of this is considering your insurance cover. Professional indemnity insurance along with other business insurance policies are helping small business owners sleep at night. Your Steadfast insurance broker can help you decide which type of insurance is appropriate for the needs of your business.

Budgeting on improved performance

And let’s not forget cost. While the demand for a skilled workforce is increasing, so too is the need to reduce costs. Your training budget should be part of your business plan and include all direct and indirect costs associated with training and development. You will find a handy checklist here.

The amount you spend on training will depend on your business needs and financial resources. But as a guide to industry practice, the last major survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that over 80% of Australian companies provided staff training. Those who did spent around 2% of their total wages bill, on average, on training and education.

In some cases you may be required by law to spend a certain amount. For example, if your company employs 457 visa holders you must contribute at least 2% of your payroll to an industry training fund.

Most companies use a mix of internal and external training. Internal training may involve job shadowing, mentoring or online instruction in things such as work health and safety. External training is more likely to be structured and may be online or on-site at a university, TAFE or private college.

Larger institutions offer a wide range of courses, from personal development and management to first aid and computing skills. These days there are also specialist training colleges that cater to particular industries or in demand skills, such as coding and data management. You could start by looking at what’s available in your local area or consulting your industry body.

An Epik solution

Or you could Google it. That’s what Ben Chapman did when his Melbourne-based digital marketing start-up, Epik Digital experienced growing pains.

“The business was only three and a half years old but it became clear our processes needed refining. We worked as a team - like a group of friends - but we needed some leadership processes and structure”, he says. As the company’s reputation grew it was also taking on bigger and more complex projects that required different management skills.

So he Googled "leadership and management training". As a result, some staff are studying for the Diploma of Leadership and Management at Monarch Institute. He also approached the digital industry association, AIMIA, where staff have completed a short course in Agile Digital Project Management.

Epik also conducts internal training for all staff. “The industry we’re in changes rapidly, so we’re always looking at better ways to do things. We have custom built a third party software that requires a lot of training”, he says.

When your training program is up and running, make sure you feed the results into your review of staff performance. This template will help keep track of your professional development plan. 

Chapman has already seen the benefits of training after streamlining their management processes. “It’s improved productivity massively and reduced human error,” he says.

As your business grows and expands into new areas you will want your staff to be prepared for the journey ahead. Choosing the right training and development programs will help you retain valued team members and achieve a new level of business success.

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