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Upskill or hire: What’s the best way to improve staffing?

Leaders of growing businesses will face staffing dilemmas early on in their managerial career. After all, for a company to increase its profits and client base, they first need to invest in their staff. But at the thrifty beginnings of a venture, many owners will be reluctant to splash out on new recruits – that’s where upskilling comes in.

There’s no doubt that employees have their limits, and asking too much of one person is detrimental to both the business and their own wellbeing. However by upskilling a current staff force, providing them training on different aspects of the job and company, they can become more efficient workers, an essential attribute to any company.

However, a study two years ago found that 29% of employers didn’t anticipate that their workforce would need to acquire new skills or knowledge over the next twelve months. That’s a worrying figure considering the speed at which business and technological practices are changing. By failing to train staff, businesses will fall to the wayside compared to their competitors.

By investing in your staff you’ll not only save money in the long run but you’ll also build a workforce that is confident in the knowledge that you believe in them. Being told they need to be trained may come as a shock to some employees, but the fact that you’re doing so to build their skills will soon become apparent. Staff who are trained internally will often also be far more motivated go to the extra mile in their job – your investment in them will be reciprocated through the quality of their work.

How you do the training is also important. Many bosses will be unsure about how to tackle this – this is when they need to lead. The first thing a leader should do is converse with their staff. See what’s bothering them (professionally, of course), what aspects of their roles they don’t understand, any major flaws they’ve found in the business and so on. Not everyone will give the same response, but you will generally find the same three of four issues come up time and time again.

This is when you act. Draft up a plan of action based around staff feedback, making sure to consult academic journals and training courses to make sure your plan will provide certain benefit. By tailoring it to their needs, the employees will not feel patronised, instead being safe in the knowledge that their feedback is being listened to and acted upon.

Bringing in new staff is an inevitability in business, as you can only do so much with a small workforce. However, if management can lead training courses to upskill the initial workforce, both the business and the employees will benefit greatly.

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