Does staff development have the power to boost efficiency and improve engagement? The latest research says it makes employers more attractive to millennials.

A recent Gallup Poll revealed opportunities to learn and grow at work are highly important to millennials in the U.S. when seeking out new jobs or choosing to stay in current ones.

If this holds true in the UK, companies are falling short. According to a CIPR survey, less than half of employees (44%) in the UK are satisfied with the level of training and career development in their organisation.

This isn’t surprising to Josh Hoole, manager of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Skills Hub. The project has helped 400 businesses access training and build employee development programmes since October 2017.

“Dedicating time to training is challenging, particularly if you’re a small business.,” says Hoole.

More than 95 per cent of businesses in Cornwall are SMEs, presenting a real skills issue for the county. In a recent survey of SMEs in Cornwall, 30 per cent cited time as a barrier to up-skilling.

Hoole says companies need to reconsider how they view training, if they want to attract and retain the talent they need to sustain or grow their business.

“Employees can feel undervalued when they don’t feel invested in, potentially seeking employment elsewhere. Additionally, if you’re not investing in your staff, your business is never going to be as productive as it could be.

”Last year, 59% of Cornish businesses who were actively recruiting fell flat in their search for the right candidate. Josh advises that more businesses should consider training-up existing employees to fulfil vacancies.

“Someone in the team might have what it takes to become the ideal person for the role. Let’s face it, they already know how the company works within the wider sector and with the appropriate training, could be a huge asset to the company,” says Hoole.

While this approach requires time, Hoole suggests it may prove to be the better route in the long run.

“Recruiting from within, places the company in the driver’s seat. Business leaders or managers know the potential candidate and their skill gaps. With a strong training plan, they can get them where they need to be. Ultimately, the employee will feel valued and is more likely to be motivated to perform well and stick around.”

Made for Life Organics, a skincare business based in Truro, understands the importance of employee development to business growth and long-term sustainability.

Last year the company grew by more than 50 per cent, sparking a review of its employee development plan amongst the company’s senior leaders.

“We needed to focus, regroup and consider what skills were missing and what we needed to do,” reflects Amanda Winwood, managing director for the company.

After a conversation with Hoole at the Federation of Small Business Awards ceremony last year, where Made for Life Organics received the accolade for Green and Sustainable Business, Winwood arranged a consultation with the Skills Hub and feels they really helped the business.

“We discussed our future aspirations and immediately identified that we needed additional support and training for two members of my team. We also needed help with business administration and are now looking at an apprentice.”

Winwood acknowledges that time can be a roadblock to developing employee training plans but feels there is support for businesses facing the same issue.

“We would have invested quite a bit of time in training but being able to instantly access courses that were readily available and suited our needs has been invaluable. Having an affiliation with the Skills Hub fast tracked us to get moving.”