Staff development: mutual attraction

The difficulties facing the finance sector look set to become more acute with
recent research, which shows that 53% of finance and accounting staff said they
would be looking for a new job this year.

As the UK’s leading people management experts and armed with a robust body of
evidence, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is well placed to
offer advice to organisations and managers as to how to avoid a recruitment

As the UK’s economy becomes more service and knowledge led, organisations are
relying on their staff to ensure they keep up with the competition and increase
productivity rates. People are therefore key to an organisation’s success and
developing them effectively is the only means to remaining competitive in a
market place.

Money is no longer enough

Simply paying the highest salaries is no longer enough to attract and retain
talent in an inflated labour market. Some bankers, for example, receive bonuses
of up to ten times their annual salary of £120,000.

Financial organisations need to focus on methods such as providing career
development, training opportunities and good people management.

Standard & Poors (see case study below), the provider of independent
credit ratings and investment research and valuations, has used learning and
development to compensate for difficulties competing on wages.

By using careful induction, development, and career management opportunities
S&P has created a reputation that strongly aids recruitment and helps to
keep talented to staff in the business.

Learning and development activities are vital to ensure that the workforce is
kept up to date with fast changing skills demands.

As the UK’s economy becomes increasingly service led organisations cannot
afford to be complacent about addressing their employee’s needs. Many UK
organisations echo these sentiments and comment, ‘people are our greatest asset’
. Yet this rhetoric often fails to get translated into reality. The real
question is why?

CIPD’s latest learning and development survey finds that there are many
barriers facing organisations. And the biggest of these is the failure of line
managers in meeting the learning and development needs of the staff they manage
– from induction and job design, through to the learning function of team
working, coaching and the assessment of development needs.

CIPD research shows that 44% of managers are ineffective in relation to
learning and development and almost a quarter of line managers fail to take
learning and development seriously.

Difference of opinion

This indicates a distinct difference between what managers and organisations
should be doing in terms of learning and development and the reality of what is
actually happening often due to mitigating circumstances.

Competing business pressures are believed to be the main reason for line
managers not supporting learning and development activities. Managers will
always have conflicting priorities and role overload, however. Therefore they
require development-based support from their bosses and their organisation to
understand the value and impact learning and development can have.

Developing a fully effective member of staff may be both expensive and time
consuming, but in the long term that focus on learning and development will help
increase your employees’ productivity and motivation. If an employee feels
supported by their line manager, they will feel engaged with and committed to
their organisation. This will in turn improve attendance, reduce staff turnover
and ensure that employees are willing to ‘go that extra mile’.

Whilst line managers can’t be expected to have a detailed interest in
learning and development, they cannot just expect a distant learning and
development department to come up with ready-made magic solutions to their
problems. But actively engaging in the need to develop staff – and recognising
that a large proportion of learning takes place on the job – requires the active
involvement of the line manager.

It is also important for managers not just to focus on the more traditional
forms of learning and development.

The provision of formal qualifications and external training will not
necessarily produce higher productivity rates. Only once combined with good
people management practices such as job appraisals, coaching and guidance,
access to challenging work and opportunities for career development will
learning and development activities lead to an increase in business performance.

The company More th>n is an arm of the Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance
Group plc with 10 million customers buying home, motor and pet insurance. The
company uses coaching as a key tool to enable employees at all levels of the
business identify how they could contribute to business success. In 2005, 35
coaches were chosen to give specialist advice, information, coaching and
training to support the achievement of business targets.

Since its introduction, coaching has become the predominant management style
throughout More th>n and most importantly has improved business results by
improving individual personal performance; raising technical skills, increasing
personal confidence and focusing on career advancement. .

Learning and development is no longer an issue which managers can ignore.
Understanding the value of learning and investing your time in development
activities can help ensure you are recruiting and retaining talented and skilled

In a service led economy where skills and knowledge are key to remaining
competitive attracting and retaining talent is vital.

Standard & poors

Standard and Poors has used learning and development activities to tackle their
recruitment difficulties. Once S&P’s analysts are fully competent, they are
attractive to the surrounding financial institutions. Despite being a global
player, S&P cannot compete directly in term of salaries and bonuses. Instead
it provides its new recruits and employees with careful induction, development,
and career management opportunities.

S&P has built up a talent pool from the recruitment of inexperienced yet
able staff. As part of its people strategy, line managers are responsible for
building talent and play a crucial role in providing analysts with the
opportunity to learn, build a career and increase personal market worth. This
can involve job placement, design and job rotation, organising secondments,
external training course and induction activities.

S&P managers engage their staff in their own development plans and try to
align their employee interests alongside the company’s goals. Training, learning
and development are well established and seen as fundamental to the business
strategy. The appointment of a highly experienced talent development director is
indicative of this commitment.

Victoria Winkler is learning at the Chartered Institute
of Personnel and Development

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