SMEs Increase Commitment To Staff Training

Research Shows More Employees Have Career Development Plans

10.09.2014

The economic recovery has enabled SMEs to increase their focus on staff training as they look to the future, a new survey has indicated.

A poll of over 1,000 employees working for SMEs as part of the Personal Development in the Workplace Study 2014 by HR software firm breatheHR found 58 per cent felt their employer was serious about helping their personal development. This figure was up from 52 per cent in the equivalent survey in 2013.

By contrast, the proportion of employees who felt their bosses did not take their development seriously has fallen from 48 per cent to 42 per cent.

One way of helping people to advance their own skills base and become better at what they do is to have a personal development plan. Last year, 34 per cent of employees had one of these, but now 42 per cent do.
Researchers said this was an area of major concern last year, highlighting the way development plans can help staff stay "motivated and engaged".

Consequently, they said the rise in the number of career plans this year "shows how employers are increasingly dedicating more time and resource to providing staff with structured personal development plans, which will no doubt help to improve their engagement and motivation".

Despite this, there has been less progress in terms of discussions between employers and employees about personal development. The number of staff who have spoken with their bosses about this in the last six months is still only 35 per cent, only one percentage point up from a year ago.

The survey also found women tend to be more engaged than men in SMEs and discuss their personal development plans with their employers more often.

Chief executive of breatheHR Jonathan Richards said it is "great to see that business owners are putting personal development and training back on the agenda as the economy returns to growth", but "disappointing" that many are yet to embrace such an approach.

Expert Opinion
Businesses of all sizes can benefit greatly from taking time to consider how they can help their workers to develop their skills. This not only offers benefits to the staff involved in terms of improving their experience and expertise, but also means companies have quality talent at their disposal which will help to push their operations forward.

"Another key benefit is that, by taking an interest in the development of staff, businesses are able to ensure workers feel valued, engaged and motivated – which are important factors when it comes to ensuring that top-performing staff can be retained.

"It is good to see SMEs recognising the benefits of this approach to personal development and it is vital that those not switched on to the issue seriously consider how they can benefit."
Fergal Dowling, Partner