HR & Management

5 ways to upskill the staff in your SME, keep them loyal, and build good PR for your brand

6 min read

16 April 2019

As a business owner, it's crucial that you're able to attract and retain talented members of staff. To do this, you must start by giving them the tools they need to prosper and gain new skills under your leadership. To say that you can help develop your staff and their skillsets is great PR for your brand on a recruitment level. Here are five major ways in which you can upskill the staff in your SME.

Personal development might not – for some companies – be high on the agenda as it takes time to progress skillsets and train people in-house.

However, the benefits of upskilling could make a dramatic difference for businesses when it comes to staff retention rates, recruitment, greater team – and individual – knowledge, as well as overall organisational growth.

There are several ways to enhance development and meet the needs of an ever-evolving workplace – and it doesn’t have to burn a hole in company pockets either, or consume the precious time of a busy office.

1. Peer-to-peer training

Also called ‘employee-to-employee’ training, this is something every business should harness – especially in increasingly challenging times to compete. A quick scan across the office will underline that there are so many knowledgeable people with expertise to offer. They might not even know it either, or could be too fearful of shouting up because they question their experience.

However, it’s a great way to upskill, and often colleagues prefer to learn from one another – rather than trouble management for the answers. The tools are all there in-house to develop on the job – organisations need to keep reminding themselves about how crucial, and cost-effective, a peer-to-peer solution is to supercharge skillsets.

2. Collaborative meetings

There isn’t a business out there that doesn’t want to do things efficiently – and that’s where productive sessions come into play. These kinds of ‘get-togethers’ can encourage other colleagues to speak up who might not be involved in meetings usually. They could have recently started in the business, or may have been there for some time and even feel they don’t have the gravitas to offer valued insight. But they do!

It’s about changing that mind-set, and encouraging teams to share the responsibility to collaborate – as well as overlook any kind of ‘power’ or hierarchy.

Such simple, structured meetings can help employees feel more engaged and productive too, and they can use these sessions to improve their decision-making and public speaking skills. Not to mention, overall collaboration can bolster team-working and encourage more employees to take greater responsibility when it comes to owning bigger projects.

3. Mentoring

Whether in-house or outsourced, a programme of ongoing learning enhances staff development. These sessions don’t necessarily have to be directly linked with your core business either, for example they could be about how to manage conflict or ways to build leadership qualities. If you’re a company owner or manager, ask your team what they would like to know more about – and work on building a scheme to facilitate such learning.

Strong mentorship can be a defining moment for a company because it empowers employees. They’re then likely to share knowledge with colleagues, continuing the in-house development theme. There is an art to picking the right mentor though – whether outsourced or internally selected – make sure they’re the right fit for the business, and that staff feel they are getting value for the time and resources spent on learning.

4. Online learning (visual)

A flexible, visual approach can encourage staff to add to their personal development – and it can be done at their own pace too. This kind of learning, such as webinars, presentations or online seminars, can be offered during working hours – or out-of-office for more ‘formal’ training towards qualifications.

However, there needs to be tangible results from digital learning – it’s no good ‘ticking boxes’ if skills aren’t being enhanced. It must underline how it’s actually working to justify why it’s worth the time of the company and staff member. Regular check-ins or ‘debriefs’ could help measure this – allowing employees to offer valuable feedback on what’s working well, and what they’d like to do more of.

5. Champions in the office

Passing on the ‘knowledgeable baton’, strong in-house leaders help to improve a workplace atmosphere and morale, as well as develop skills. A happy, engaged employee will increase individual productivity too – and bring everything back to the company’s objectives of maintaining a healthy staff retention rate, whilst providing an attractive ‘hook’ when hunting for talent.

Businesses could also match up workplace ‘champions’ to help one another. So, a colleague better at public speaking, could help someone struggling with stage fright. Or an executive keen for promotion, might ask for leadership skills, and advice from a line manager or company boss to progress their role. Making people feel valued in the office will often empower the direction of an organisation.

Not every employee might be as eager as the next to develop – or go at the same speed – but if there are options within an organisation to upskill, then staff members are more likely to stay. It’s about getting the right kind of training for your business, and making sure that the learning on offer is working well – so that you’re constantly enhancing your in-house team and staying ahead of the curve in a competitive marketplace.