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[Learning & Development]

Professional Development in SMEs - Maximising the Impact

Personal Growth = Results:
Employee Engagement, Productivity & Retention in SMEs

For all businesses (whatever their size), their success, and employee success and happiness go hand-in-hand.  At the same time, it's no secret that the challenges HR Leaders face in achieving this in their learning and development strategy, have increased dramatically over the past few years; even more so for SMEs keen for growth.  Helping staff navigate change amid increasing demand for wellbeing support and flexible working, is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The key to productivity, results, employee engagement, retention in a hot jobs market is professional & personal development.  Here we look at the key challenges for professional and personal development strategy implementation in SMEs and how HR Leaders can maximise the power of professional development more easily across the whole business in order to deliver continuous improvement and results.

"On average there is 1 manager for every 10 employees in a large organisation.  Gallup finds that 1/10 people possess the inherent talent to manage.  Therefore when you do the maths, it's likely that someone on the team has the talent to lead but it may not be the manager."

Gallup Survey

6 Challenges for Implementing Professional Development in SMEs

Professional development, coaching and staff training are vital for a growing organisation.  Development that focuses on developing  growth mindsets, behaviours, beliefs and habits over-and-above straightforward role skillsets has the power to improve mental wellbeing by learning the tools of optimised mind management.  In addition it can help motivate staff at all levels to perform more effectively and with less stress to enable them succeed in their personal goals as well as business objectives.  However, in reality, many organisations face 6 key challenges in implementing this kind of training throughout the organisation. 


1. Time Resource - By opening up traditional one-to-one coaching and classroom training to all employees, that's typically a lot of valuable time out of the business that many SMEs can't afford as they don't have the people to cover the time out of the office.

2. Budget Limits Learning & Development Strategy - Traditional professional one-to-one coaching (and staff training courses) can be expensive.  The combined cost and time element means that the number of employees benefitting is usually limited (and usually to those on a management track).  As a result, significant numbers of the staff body are unable to benefit from the productivity and results advantages of professional development, soft skills and mindset coaching.

3. Relying on the Manager to Coach - The manager's resources tend to be stretched in an SME and fast-growth environment. They may see the benefit of teaching their team the high performance skills they have learnt, in order to improve both individual staff and department results, but does the manager really have the tools (and time) to do so? Every manager would benefit from a being a coach, but not every manager is.  

4. Size of HR Team - When you're an SME (rather than a large enterprise), the HR team's resources tend to be spread more thinly across development, recruitment, retention and wellbeing (particularly post-pandemic) and therefore internal learning and development resources might not be available to support expanded coaching and development across all levels of the business, even if it could deliver improved results.

5. Pressure to Deliver Results - SMEs tend to exist in competitive, innovative and fast-growing market environments. The pressure to deliver results, affecting all business units all levels, is very real, yet the skills and capacity to flex, adapt, change and step up is not an innate skill for all employees, increasing their stress and threatening performance and retention.

6. Cost of Employee Turnover - As every HR Leader knows, the cost of recruiting a new employee is high.  The average employee replacement cost is £12,000 per employee for SMEs in the UK.  Lack of progression and a lack of development has been cited by numerous surveys as two of the top reasons employees leave. Professional development enables personal and professional growth & fulfilment, even when there is not a new career role immediately available within the business, helping you retain valuable team members.



Pack a Productive Punch with Professional Development for All

Supporting your managers with professional development programmes is powerful in itself.  When you apply the Gallup statistic however, a different picture (and opportunity) arises.  If 1/10 employees are managers and on a professional development programme, this means 9/10 of your employees aren't.  As a result, they will not be keeping up with the high performance skillsets, mindsets and behaviours your managers are learning.  Your managers' teams will need to be 'led' rather than being 'self-led' and delivering results through their own intrinsic, high performance self-leadership. 

Think of it like this.  Your managers are trying to win the race with the F1 car they've been given.  It gets tuned every few circuits and comes back on track with higher performance.  Their team members, however, are driving their old, reliable runabouts that are serviced once a year and get them from A to B but they can't keep up and their engines start to smoke.

Life Ladder is a new tactic to add to your learning and development strategy providing a different and all-inclusive approach to corporate professional development. The online platform and e-learning journey was developed to resolve these key development challenges and deliver improved results, success (and happiness).  It achieves this for you across all  levels of your organisation by reducing the costs of provision and time required for development, through its online, scaleable professional and personal development platform.  Here are the principles for embedded personal improvement.


1. Development for Everyone - Online-based and scaleable, professional development becomes accessible to all levels of the organisation.  Cost-effective annual membership* makes it scaleable.  Finally your whole staff is able to learn the high performance skills, mindsets and behaviours that consistently drive improved business results. 

2. The Secret to Motivation - productivity, performance, success and happiness in your work, comes from intrinsic motivation and self-belief.  By addressing and breaking through subconscious blocks (which often we don't know are there) employees experience personal growth, developing self-leadership, leadership and mental resilience skills that drive greater professional success.  Even better,  it ignites happiness, key for continuous results, engagement and retaining your employees, even when there are no career progression opportunities. 

3. Development That's Engaging - daily e-learning (up to 30 mins a day) following a simple 7-step subconscious catalyst system approach, makes it easy to integrate into the working day without requiring time out of the office. Learn, develop and apply new skills immediately and consistently.

Happy people are 31% more productive and three times more creative than others.
Happiness improves business profitability by 147%
Research: Caleb Papineau (2017)

4. Engagement - What's In It For Me? Because happy employees stay, Life Ladder is designed around the principle that happiness and success are intrinsically linked. This is why the platform focuses on both personal and professional development.  All the e-learning is designed to enable members to improve both their professional and personal lives and results, so it's not just about what's in it for the business that I do this, it's about 'this will help me in my life too', activating their personal motivation and building fulfilment.  

5. Capitalise on Collaboration -  Community and collaboration don't just make and improve culture, they help embed learning, change and improvement.  Humans just simply get more done when they collaborate and learn with each other.  Life Ladder's Community and Buddy System enables members to share learning, inspiration, work on their challenges and find accountability and inspiration partners (and have fun while they're doing it all).

6. 24/7, Scaleable , Flexible  - For many organisations, learning and development has become more challenging in an increasingly flexible working environment. For some employees this has made the need for mental resilience and self-leadership skills ever more important.  Members have access to Life Ladder any time, anywhere and on any device, helping them make the best use of their time and lead their self-development.

7. Tracking Progress - Members track their progress, change and learnings through a personalised Goals Dashboard.  This not only helps them quantify and recognise the change in their results but also feeds progress reports for teams and individuals.

8. Lower Costs to Reach Wider in the Business - When choosing Life Ladder as a professional development strategy to drive performance through the whole business, its guided learning platform develops members at a fraction of the cost of one-to-one coaching or week-long training courses.  £299 + VAT/employee/year.*

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