Workplace study reveals half of UK SMEs neglect staff development

While the recession may have forced some SME owners to focus their priorities elsewhere, with the economy slowly improving employers need to place a renewed focus on providing structured personal development to avoid staff losing motivation and becoming unengaged, a scenario which directly impacts productivity, morale and ultimately the success of the business.

The Personal Development in the Workplace study, also reveals that the majority of respondents haven’t been provided with any kind of personal development plan, so are essentially working day-to-day without any long term focus.

However, the research highlighted that process doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, as despite staff in companies of between 51-250 being 16 per cent more likely to have a development plan, staff actually feel more engaged and discuss their personal development more frequently in small companies of 1-10 staff.

The regional picture also reveals some interesting trends. Notably, that respondents in Scotland feel the most engaged at work, with 62 per cent believing their employer takes their personal development seriously, which is 18 per cent higher than in East Anglia where less than half felt their personal development was a serious focus for their boss.

In addition, despite being the UK’s largest centre for employment and industry, London and the South East is actually one of the worst regions in terms staff development, lagging behind the majority of the UK.

Reacting to the findings, Jonathan Richards, CEO & founder of breatheHR, said: “The results clearly show a fantastic opportunity for small to media sized businesses to gain competitive advantage by spending time developing employees.

“The good news is that it needn’t cost a fortune and with relatively little effort they will increase productivity and reduce costs.”

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