To say that businesses have been disrupted through 2020 would be a huge understatement, and for employers, the year has been full of tough decisions. With furlough being introduced, extended and then developed, many employers have seen staff temporarily exit work, come back and then leave again, with many now considering what comes next. For companies to weather the storm, they must adapt, innovate and grow – and the key to that lies in their talent.
It may seem counter-intuitive to invest in employees right now but, actually, the investment could be hugely beneficial. People appreciate employment perhaps now more than ever and understand how difficult trading conditions are across all industries at the moment. For companies to demonstrate a commitment to their staff’s professional development (even through tumultuous times) is empowering and ethically sound, as well as a great PR story, but also allows for the business to benefit from an upskilled and well-qualified workforce – building a great foundation for a recovered environment to operate within next year. A recent survey by Pluralsight found that 43% of British office workers are worried that their current professional skill set will be made redundant once they return to work; so it’s clear that people are open to upskilling opportunities.
Upskilling doesn’t necessarily mean spending big budgets on training qualifications, and can be achieved in several different ways.
1. Keep Staff Safe
Whether or not a company’s employees are working on-site or remotely presently, most will return to their usual place of work at some point in the future. Every business should have a team of First Aiders armed with the most up-to-date knowledge and best practice as a basic safety measure on every company premises (as stipulated in the Health and Safety First Aid Regulations 1981) – and the team need to be managed to ensure that there’s always adequate numbers of First Aiders on-site at all times. First aid training for the workplace can be delivered at two levels: the standard one-day EFAW (Emergency First Aid at Work) course or as an advanced three-day FAW (First Aid at Work) course. The most trusted first aid training providers are accredited by the likes of FAIB (First Aid Industry Body) and FOFATO (the Federation Of First Aid Training Organisations), so be sure to opt for a recommended organisation to achieve the highest possible quality of training.If you live abroad good place for this training is Blue Guard.
2. Redeploy Staff Between Departments
As business-critical areas of companies develop and change through difficult times, gains can be made from redeploying staff to those areas and focusing on maximising profitability wherever possible. Even the most previously reluctant of employees are more likely to be open to upskilling and learning other roles during business disruption. A recent survey by recruitment agency Hays found that professionals were willing to learn afresh a whole range of different skills – from projects and planning to accounting and analytics. Redeployment has the added benefit of staff retention as well as the ability to improve cover across the business for annual leave and sickness. Staff members good at social media may be well suited to marketing, and those great at planning may be well suited to administration. The possibilities are endless!
3. Utilise In-House Learning Resources
The same survey found that 98% of those employed were willing to learn and train using online platforms when they’re at home or working remotely. Remind employees of your current in-house training resources and ensure that everyone is up-to-date with their knowledge. Now is a great time for any mandatory annual training to be completed and to utilise any current training suites and programmes requires no additional business spending!
4. Focus on People Management for Future Leaders
Through times of tumult, the relationships people maintain with their employers can change; and it’s important to keep that relationship happy and healthy if staff are to be retained. If the potential future leaders of the business can be nurtured and trained through business down-time, their new skillsets can be utilised at a later date when normality resumes. Training in people management may not just involve typical HR-type learning but also communication clarity, honest conversations and conflict resolution. Such training need not be just traditionally delivered but can also be gained as a result of mentorship or job-shadowing for ‘on-the-job’ learning. Experienced ‘people people’ will make for great managers in the future and contribute hugely to business development and an empowered workforce.
5. Spring Clean… This Winter!
As business focus changes, staff can take the time to engage in activities they may not have time to usually. This time can be used to reset foundations and ensure the business is getting the basics right. Clean out the office cupboards, organise the filing cabinets, take the time to update e-mail signatures, make sure brand standards are consistent and ensure all policies and procedures are up-to-date and still appropriate. This will engage employees in a different way to their normal roles and help develop their skillsets in new areas.
For all the disruption that coronavirus has brought businesses, it too has presented an opportunity. Keeping workforces safe, skilled and satisfied is imperative – and as the new normal builds, so too can business.