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How upskilling your existing workforce can save your SME money

April 4, 2019

By Zoe Morris, President at Mason Frank International


The costs of running a business, regardless of size, are ever-rising. When you’re an SME, keeping costs low and controlling your overall business expenditure is crucial, and can be the difference between seeing your company grow into an industry powerhouse or falling to the back of the pack. On top of that, the tech skills gap widens more every day, and sourcing, hiring, and training the right professionals in this highly competitive market can take a significant bite out of any SME’s budget.

Take all associated hiring costs into consideration, and the total price of hiring a new employee comes to more than £50,000. Without an effective retention strategy in place, these costs really can skyrocket. So what’s the best way to get the skill sets you need when you don’t have that kind of money in your pocket?

Enter, upskilling
This is more than just another buzzword to punctuate meetings with. Upskilling involves a continuous, internal drive to help your people develop the skills they want and need to reach their career goals. Like professional development programmes, upskilling taps into your workforce’s potential and builds on their existing knowledge, giving them new talents that help to minimise the skills gap and add value to your business. As an SME on a budget, your goal should be to create a positive learning environment that offers support while encouraging independent study.

How does upskilling cut costs?
Maximise productivity  
Upskilling allows your employees to not only refine, but diversify their skill set, and shapes them into more well-rounded professionals. This leads to an increase in overall productivity, as your employees will find themselves better equipped to take on additional tasks, graduate to more advanced roles, and able to work smarter rather than harder.

What’s more, investing in your staff means they’ll feel empowered to work more independently, cutting the amount of supervision and overall management required on a day-to-day basis. That frees up time for management to focus more effectively on their own workload, boosting efficiency across the organisation.

Increase customer satisfaction
Your customer experience can only be as good as your workforce. Investing in your employees will have a positive impact on your customer experience, building trust in your brand and increasing the likelihood that they’ll recommend your product or service to their peers. If your employees feel valued and confident in their professional skills, they’ll feel motivated to meet—and surpass—customer expectations.

Boost employee retention
Based on the average salary in the UK, employee turnover costs approximately £11,000 per person. Upskilling is central to boosting employee satisfaction and, in turn, building trust and loyalty among your employees. Tech professionals operate in a fast-moving industry; neglect to provide the training and development necessary for them to grow, and you could lose your talent to your competition.

According to a 2018 LinkedIn report, a whopping 93% of professionals said they’d remain at an organisation longer if it invested in training. When it comes to a market as competitive as tech, professionals look beyond salaries and take a keener interest in the perks and training offered by a potential employer, so it’s worth remembering that when reviewing your benefits package.

The bottom line is this: whether you’re operating at SME or enterprise level, upskilling must be built into your business strategy—both to cut costs and bridge the skills gap that plagues the tech industry. If you can earn the loyalty of your employees, that’ll help you attract high-calibre talent when it comes to making new hires.


Zoe Morris is President of Mason Frank International, part of Frank Recruitment Group, and oversees its ongoing business and sales operations, employee training, and hiring initiatives globally. She studied Psychology at the University of London and has nearly 20 years of experience in the recruitment industry. 


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