How to develop your staff without breaking the bank
|Sunday, 13 February 2011|
Advertising feature by Barclays
When times are hard, often the first cost savings to be made in a small business are on training and development budgets. But as every successful entrepreneur knows, a business’s people are its greatest asset. So how can you keep training and developing your people without spending a fortune?
If you run a small to medium sized company or are in the process of starting your own business, here’s how to keep skills sharp and networking at the top of the agenda.
Take full advantage of the free services and advisory agencies that offer information and support for SMEs. For example, Enterprise Nation has launched Bitsy (http://bitsythis.com/) – a new business to business marketplace on the web. It features useful content and a community forum to help small businesses build strong commercial relationships with their customers. It also features free training courses.
The Government’s business support agency – Business Link (http://www.businesslink.gov.uk) also provides information and access to a number of resources and organisations that can offer you free knowledge sharing and training.
Many regions benefit from training and knowledge sharing support via industry specific business support agencies or broader regional organisations such as the Regional Development Agencies (which will be replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships in March 2012).
Also contact your local borough council – many business enterprise units offer free advice and workshops on topics such as business finance and marketing.
Technical know how
When it comes to buying new software and equipment, many suppliers now offer free training as part of the package, offering one-to-one or group training online or sending a representative to your workplace. If they don’t offer it up front, ask. Also check what support they offer after the event and negotiate a free follow-up consultation if you think this might be necessary.
Share best practice
Your staff will have a broad range of experience and knowledge. It may be the case that they have as much to teach each other as an external training provider. The key is to create a flexible structure for knowledge sharing so that experience and best practice gets passed on in a useful way.
Some organisations hold informal “lunch and learn” sessions – where attendees are provided with lunch and listen to a colleague talk through a topic or project. Other organisations use a central intranet or “wiki” where people can ask questions and get answers from colleagues who have tackled a similar issue or project in the past.
Workshops and courses
Sending your whole team on a training course can be a costly affair. Rather than miss the opportunity, take a different approach. Pick your courses with care and send just one member of staff – an individual best equipped to get the most from the session and then be able share what they’ve learnt and train the others.
And, if appropriate, also encourage your staff to participate in educational opportunities offered by their unions or professional associations.
Engage and connect
Social media platforms and networks not only provide invaluable marketing tools for your company but also offer myriad opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning from your industry’s thought leaders and your peers.
Rather than simply post a profile on LinkedIn, encourage your staff to get active and engage with the groups relevant to your business – allowing them the time to do so. Likewise, you should also research the most active and relevant online forums, associations and websites that speak for your industry and sign up to the RSS feeds of the most influential bloggers in your sector.
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking (bank accounts and instant access savings accounts) , credit cards, corporate banking, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 140,000 people. Barclays moves, invests and protects money and provides business bank accounts, ISAs, online loans, house insurance, life insurance, a mortgage calculator, guides on how to buy shares, retirement planning information and other services for over 49 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.barclays.co.uk.
This article has been written for information and interest purposes only. The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author only, and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only.
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