Survive & Thrive: Upskill to Grow Your Australian Local Business

Having just plunged into its first economic recession in 30 years, Australia’s business outlook for 2021 and beyond has been generally pessimistic.

Recent surveys claim that 60% of all small business owners in Australia have a negative perception of their business’ future in 2021. This comes as a result of both the Coronavirus pandemic and the extreme bush fires which took place in January 2020.

While this information might seem disheartening, there is actually evidence to suggest that small businesses could use this time of unpredictability to steer the economy in their favour.

Sectors like product development, IT and technology services and marketing have maintained their position as in-demand and effective drivers for economic success.

Australian small businesses have displayed remarkable tenacity and flexibility over the past year, providing employment for 4.7 million people, or 41% of the national business workforce.

Despite this impressive number, global unemployment rates have increased up to 6.6% in June 2021, which is 1.3 percentage points higher than 2020. According to a June 2021 study, 27% of Australian small businesses reported issues with finding staff.

Upskilling the staff behind your small business is one major way you can continue to promote tangible growth in the Australian business sector. Plus, you can provide unemployed citizens with the tools and resources they need to survive.

How Upskilling Promotes Growth

Upskilling is the practise of providing your employees with access to some kind of formal training or education that improves their technical capacity and understanding of their job.

Not only does upskilling mean the employer now has a stronger team of staff and therefore a better likelihood of business success. But those staff members can also walk forward in life with useful skills that they may not have had access to otherwise.

Upskilling is a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee. However, it does require a reasonable amount of time and effort from both parties. This is why upskilling does not occur as often in business programmes as you would think.

But while upskilling may require some groundwork at first, the benefits dramatically outweigh any initial downsides. They may become the reason your Australian small business survives and thrives over the next few years.

Here are some reasons upskilling promotes growth and attracts success:

1. Attracts job seekers

If you are short on quality staff, advertising the opportunity for upskilling new workers will mean you attract significantly more job seekers. A recent LinkedIn study claimed that growth opportunities are the second-most searched for factor, next to compensation.

Many of the most dedicated workers lack access to the tools and resources needed for job training. By providing your employees with growth opportunities, you strengthen underprivileged communities and simultaneously attract individuals who are serious about performing well.

2. Fosters employee loyalty

In 2020, a survey showed two out of every three workers left their job because it lacked learning and skill development opportunities. Offering useful skills and development opportunities for your employees will mean a much stronger chance of retaining loyalty with them.

In any relationship, there needs to be continuous growth and potential for improvement if the involved parties are to stick around. Upskilling creates a mutually beneficial relationship between workers and employers which aids motivation and loyalty.

3. More productive and satisfied employees

Companies that invest in the upskilling of staff wind up with more time and energy to tackle important tasks. The abovementioned survey showed that eight out of every ten employees claim that upskilling has not only made them more productive, but more time efficient as they apply their newfound skills to the job.

That means a stronger contribution to the company’s success, and employees with a more relaxed and confident disposition during work hours. Upskilling shows your staff that you care about their personal work experiences and trajectories just as much as your own.

4. Identify future leaders

Often, under-stimulation is the reason behind employee sluggishness or lack of drive. If you don’t ask somebody to regularly rise to new challenges, how can they or you discover what they are truly capable of?

Without access to the tools, information, and training facilitated by an upskilling programme, both you and your employee’s potential is somewhat capped. Upskilling allows both you and your employees to observe what is possible when the right skills and knowledge is applied.

Through this process, you can unlock hidden potential in your employees and utilize that strength for the benefit of their future careers and your business’ success.

How to Start an Upskilling Programme for Your Local Business

Your small business might like the sound of how upskilling can improve motion, enhance performance and foster growth. But setting up a programme from scratch can seem overwhelming.

Fortunately, upskilling programmes are relatively simple to build. But you will need to spend some time mapping out and coming to decisions about which direction you would like to go in.

There are plenty of ways you can develop your own small-scale upskilling programme that is not expensive, time-consuming, or difficult to manage. The following suggestions are all worth looking into, especially if you are starting from scratch.

1. Choose an area that needs upskilling

This is the first and most fundamental step you can take towards developing your own upskilling programme. There are bound to be several areas of your business that require skill and experience. But choosing too many will become needlessly exhaustive.

Fixate on one or two special skills you think you and your employees would best benefit from and start thinking about ways to implement training for them. As your business grows, you can add more skills to the list.

2. Attempt micro-learning

You don’t need to spend hours of time every day training staff members. This tactic is not only physically exhausting for the trainer, but employees are less likely to retain the information if it is delivered in large, incomprehensive chunks.

Micro-learning takes a different approach. Instead of running a training session for 2 hours once a week, consider holding several 15 minute sessions over the course of a week. These bite-sized bursts of information will be easier for employees to digest and give everyone more time to focus on their everyday tasks.

3. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Online courses have become highly popular over the past few years. There are now hundreds of different courses available across paid and free internet-based platforms.

If the skill you are trying to teach your staff members is something they can learn from an external video, this is an extremely low-effort and convenient way to impart knowledge.

4. Informal learning

If you’re interested in upskilling your workforce but struggling to find any spare time for training, informal learning can be just as beneficial as formal learning.

Things like allowing your new staff members to shadow you when executing an important task, or taking breaks together where you focus on discussing a certain element of business are suggested. As is acting as a mentor or guide for your employees whenever they have questions. These are all valid and extremely useful ways to foster growth within your small business.

At the end of the day, upskilling is about distributing knowledge and creating solid connections between employers and employees that can withstand the test of time. In Australia, the current economic climate may pose challenges, but upskilling staff in your business is one way of improving your survival rate and theirs.

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