Telling the truth about SME life today

Why any business can only be as good as its staff

What makes one company succeed and one fail” One prosper while another treads water” One expand while another makes redundancies? 

I believe the development of staff and nurturing of talent and skills is the answer behind these differing fortunes. Throughout my career (building £17m security equipment manufacturing business, Pyronix) I have firmly placed ?people development” as a priority and witnessed that it is a prerequisite for success. 

I can speak about the value of investing in employees, not only from my experience running Pyronix, but also the examples I have witnessed in my role as commissioner at UKCES. Time and again I have seen that there is genuine economic rationale behind investing in training and the up-skilling of staff, as the results will far outweigh the costs, pushing you ahead of your competition. 

The benefits that are evident in staff that have been developed and trained are numerous. Employee reaction to training is very positive, showing signs of increased engagement and commitment in return for the investment they have experienced in their own skills. This improves a company’s ability to service customers, improving and adding security to client relationships.

I am a strong advocate of Investors in People (IiP), the UK’s leading people management standard. IiP has helped transform performance through people for over two decades. The organisation helps companies refine and clarify their goals, as well as setting up strategies that help them achieve these goals. Recent research showed that nearly nine out of ten companies who achieved recognition from IiP improved or developed at least one HR and business policy or practice as a direct result. The most common practices developed were business plans followed by appraisal plans, staff consultation processes, training plans, induction plans, and processes for assessing management effectiveness.

Job satisfaction increases when clear access to career development is evident, in turn helping employees perform at a higher level. The whole atmosphere of a company can change when employees feel valued by your investment and empowered by their training. Employees performing at a higher level increases productivity and ultimately profit. 

The economic downturn has affected us all, but up-skilling your workforce, providing training that increases expertise, flexibility and efficiency can be an antidote that provides a long term result that will outlast our current problems. Ultimately, investment in employees is a farsighted outlay; as well as the short term performance improvement, the benefits can be seen in the long term as your company expands and becomes a more attractive place to work, retaining its best staff and attracting best talent.

Julie Kenny is a commissioner with UKCES, a board member of the British Security Industry Association, and was High Sherriff of South Yorkshire 2012-13. Julie was awarded the CBE in 2002 in recognition of her contribution to the region’s business and industry.


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