Why It’s Important to Keep Staff Skills Up to Date

British manufacturing will face a lot of challenges in the coming years, and it’s an uncertain time for people in all industries.

That’s why forward planning is more important than ever for businesses, and one area where you’ll no doubt be thinking about the future is in HR, especially skills and training for your team. There are a number of reasons why keeping training up to date and helping your employees develop new skills can benefit your business, and here are a few reasons why you might want to invest in it.

You increase staff retention

Your employees want to know that they’re valued and that they have a future within your business. Paying for them to go on training courses or gain qualifications sends a clear message that you care about their career development. 93% of employees say they’d be more likely to stay in a role that offered training opportunities, and increasing staff retention has many advantages for your business as well as your employees, including:

  • Saving on the cost of recruiting new employees
  • Providing better continuity of service
  • Letting your employees build valuable business relationships
  • Building staff loyalty and improving teamwork

You stay legally compliant

In many manufacturing jobs, there are certain qualifications that you need to have, and if you have staff working above their usual roles without the right training, you could find yourself in trouble. Make the most of HR Software to track staff certifications, as some skills will need to be refreshed every few years.

Staff training is now easier than ever

There’s no need to worry that staff training courses will eat up huge amounts of time or that they’ll take people off-site for entire days. Many courses can now be delivered online so staff can take an hour or so off the factory floor or away from their usual duties to take modules. Online training isn’t just something you do for straightforward or soft skills – around 8% of higher education learning is completed online, so even higher level training can be delivered this way.

On-the-job training is also very effective. Some people simply learn better by doing things, and by allowing people to shadow skilled employees and try out the job under supervision, they may be able to pick things up easier.

Training can be good for teamwork

In some workplaces, people clock in and out, rarely interacting with co-workers in the process, so if you want to get people collaborating, then seminars and training days can help with teamwork. In between learning activities, try introducing some tasks where people have to work as a team, some examples of this being:

  • Problem-solving games
  • ‘Getting to know you’ activities
  • Scavenger hunts around the workplace
  • Trust exercises, such as one member of the team being blindfolded and others having to guide them

You can also make training days fun, which helps build friendships between staff members. Staff who enjoy working with their teammates are more likely to stay in their jobs long-term, and it makes for a more pleasant work environment.

You can avoid skills shortages

The manufacturing industry in the UK is facing a huge skilled workers shortage, one of the worst since the late 1980s, with around 81% of manufacturers finding it difficult to find staff with the right knowledge and experience. The weaker pound has meant fewer skilled immigrants are coming to the UK to work, and Brexit could bring tighter immigration controls, making it harder to recruit from abroad. Therefore, it’s worth trying to fill these skill gaps with your own employees. It’s often cheaper to offer training than to use specialist employment agencies or deal with drops in productivity caused by skill shortages.

Skilled staff are happier

Surveys by HR professionals have shown that those in skilled professions tend to be happier and more interested in their work. 71% of those in skilled roles are happy with their job, and people who are happier at work tend to be more productive, take less time off, and offer more to your company overall. If people see a clear path to career progression, they’re also likely to work harder and make an effort to take on projects outside of their usual scope.

Attracting the best candidates

The promise of training and career advancement is a big incentive to many jobseekers. When candidates come to job interviews, they’ll often ask what training is offered and whether there is any advancement available. If you give them a clear idea of the kind of courses and training they’ll be offered and how this will benefit them, then they’re likely to have a good impression of your company. Employees who seek out training tend to be the hard-working, motivated type, so you could attract some great candidates.

Make it easier to fill roles internally

Hiring senior staff can be costly and time-consuming, which is why many businesses try to recruit from within, but you need to ensure your staff are on the right track to fill these roles. The advantages of training staff for management roles is that you know the precise skills that they need to suit your business and that they will already know about the business’s culture and expectations from day one.

Skills don’t last forever

When you hire a skilled employee, they may know all the latest software packages or have industry certifications, but if you don’t keep these skills fresh, they can soon grow stale. This is known as the half-life of skills, which is generally about five years, but specialist skills such as IT can be half as valuable after just two years. After all, if you think about the things you learned at school or university, it’s likely that you don’t remember the finer details of these subjects and that advancements in technology have made your knowledge outdated. Luckily, a quick refresher course is often all that’s needed, so you may not need to spend on full training.

The benefits usually outweigh the expense

Professional training programs can seem costly, especially if you’re paying for people to go off-site and need to spend money on hotels and accommodation. However, when you compare the cost of training versus the cost of hiring additional skilled employees or replacing employees who’ve left due to lack of opportunities, then it often makes sense to make the investment. An ACAS report estimated that it could cost up to £30,000 to replace an employee, which includes both the cost of recruitment and the lost productivity when getting a new person up to speed.

Training and development schemes don’t have to be expensive. Arranging mentorships, holding on-site training courses, pairing up employees, and offering e-training and onboarding are all ways you could cut your training costs.

You could also create a small library of textbooks in your workplace and give employees an hour or so to read or do an online course. Learning in small doses is often easiest, and it gives employees time to try out new skills while they’re at work.

There’s less chance of workplace accidents

Health and safety is a number one priority in manufacturing, and employees are much safer if they’re given proper inductions, training, and taught how to operate machinery safely. If you let people on the factory floor who have only had a quick induction, expecting them to be able to use new tools after a quick briefing, then you’re setting yourself up for accidents. Workplace accidents not only harm employees, but they also reduce morale and productivity and could leave you facing a big fine for negligence.

New opportunities for growth

While upskilling individual employees benefits their career development, it can also be good for your company as a whole. If you have skilled employees who can carry out certain tasks or carry out certain production processes, then this gives you a lot more options in the kind of manufacturing you can carry out. When new technology comes along, upskilling people means that you already have employees in place to cope with these changes, keeping your business ahead of the competition.

A more positive work environment

Spending some time and money on staff training simply makes your company a better place to work. It shows that you have faith in your employees, that you’re building a future, and that you care about their careers. Not many people want to stay in the same role their entire lives, but if they have career progression and training, then they may stay with your business for years to come.

There are many benefits to keeping staff’s skills up to date and investing in training of all varieties. Whether it’s intensive residential courses or informal training on the job, everything your employee learns could benefit your business in more ways than you expected.