In previous articles we’ve talked about the importance of Learning and Development in SME’s, concentrating on learning as your competitive advantage as well as the simple steps you can take to creating an effective program. We touched on the staggering statistic of 57% of UK SME’s not currently offering L&D in the workplace and how this can have a negative impact on your business, especially in relation to staff morale/motivation, improved employee performance and retention. In fact, one study noted that a staggering nine out of ten employees would be less likely to seek new employment if their current employer were to offer them training and support and as a result a career structured career path to aim towards. We would now like to discuss some L&D solutions open to SME’s if you have not considered these previously.
As an SME, it’s highly likely you don’t have an internal, dedicated HR function, let alone Learning and Development support. And so how can you go about creating a sufficient Learning and Development strategy as well as implementing this plan within your business? More often than not, businesses will utilise a third-party Consultant.
There’s no doubt that the majority of your employees will have an eagerness to learn and so the last thing you want is for them to feel unsupported on this journey. In addition, it’s imperative that you remain competitive in terms of advances in technology and sector changes, to stay ahead of your competition.
Consultancy/third party input will enable you to ‘buy-in’ these services as and when you need them, which can be a cheaper option in comparison to a salaried employee. Consultancy is often viewed as an expensive option and yes, the hourly-rate/day-rate of such expertise is higher than that of an employee. However, you won’t be employing them 365 days of the year; only as and when you need them. And so, it can often work out considerably cheaper than the alternative.
Not only this but a consultant will have an abundance of knowledge and likely to have many years’ experience within the Learning and Development sector and so they will inevitably have the skills and knowledge to implement the strategy required quickly and easily – once again saving you time and money.
On start-up, organisations tend to focus on their sales teams and the immediate needs of the business rather than the long-term strategic elements of the business. This is quite normal but as your business and team grows, there will be some expectation for other areas of consideration and HR and Learning and Development will be one of these. And so, buying-in these services on a project-by-project basis is extremely common, especially before the business need is present to employee someone on an ongoing-business. It may be that you never feel the need for L&D in the long-term but that doesn’t mean that your employees don’t expect to have an L&D strategy in place.
An example of project support in this instance could be the onboarding process. You will have spent time and money searching for the right candidate for your role and so it’s important you then have a decent onboarding process. Remember, this is this individual’s first proper touchpoint within your business and so it’s vital that you get it right. If an employee were to have a poor induction, this can actually be a make or break situation for them, because remember, hiring is a two-way street – You choose them as a fit for your business and they choose you as a fit for them. It could be they then choose to leave immediately, or, as research shows, at some point within the first six months of employment. Studies demonstrate that a poor induction can have a significant negative impact upon an employee’s perception of their skills and their ability to meet your expectations. And as we know, uncertainty can breed doubt and this is the last thing you want after a lengthy and expensive hiring process.
Induction should be viewed as the finale of your hiring process and so a well-documented and thought-out induction process will go a long way in helping the new employee to settle-in quickly, having the necessary knowledge to commence work. It will enable them to avoid making unnecessary errors, under-perform or become stressed and demoralised. As a result, job satisfaction will immediately increase and you shouldn’t feel the need to micromanage or come across poor performance issues.
It may be that you just don’t have the time to create a bespoke, all-singing, all-dancing induction process, but this is where engaging with a third-party on a project-basis is key. Onboarding is only one example of a project whereby you can enlist the help of a Learning and Development Consultant but it’s certainly a major one and if you get it wrong, can have an extremely adverse effect on your business, because naturally, great induction practices correlate with high job retention rates.
Learning platforms or Learning Management Systems as they’re otherwise known, can drastically cut administration tasks. They can help you to manage registration, users, courses, online content, tutors, calendars, hours, access, communication, certificates and reports. They will help you save both time and money, allow you to effectively manage your learning and development program, allow easy access to up-to-date information and content – any time, anywhere, provide multimedia learning and advanced reporting. As an SME, this may not be at the forefront of your mind, nor a priority at this present moment in time. However, an LMS could be a thought for the future. An L&D Consultant can help you choose the right solution for your business and help to roll-out this solution over time.
Should you need help with your Learning and Development Strategy and/or implementation of this strategy, make sure you contact us now on: 01453 297557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.