Why Investing in Your Staff Pays Dividends; Businesses That Want to Drive Forward the Economic Recovery Must Invest in Their Most Important Resource - Their People, Writes Leadership & Management Wales Director Barrie Kennard WEDNESDAY ESSAY

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SMALL businesses have always had to weigh up their expenditure on "need to have" and "nice to have" outlays.

Need to haves such as rent, staffing and operational costs will always take priority over less "core" expenses, such as marketing, advertising and training and development.

While any business could be forgiven for scaling back its investment in any activity that sits outside the core business expenses during periods of economic uncertainty, LMW's latest research suggests that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Wales would be well advised to look to the future before deciding how and where to cut their financial cloths.

As the challenging economic conditions continue to put pressure on business balance sheets, SMEs in Wales are having to be more mindful then ever in managing their cash flow.

With less money coming in through the door, the task of carefully controlling how this money is spent is one at which businesses have had to quickly become adept.

For some organisations in Wales, the decision is quite simple.

They are committed to getting the most out of their employees and engage in development programmes, ensuring that each person is working at their optimum level.

People want a feeling of worth in the workplace and training and development is an effective means of displaying organisational belief.

According to our study into the impact of well-trained leaders and managers on organisations in Wales, businesses that continue to invest in developing their human capital are far better equipped to navigate their way out of economic difficulties than those that rein in their training budgets as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Staff want to be led and managed by well-trained, competent people and when they see their leaders engaging in personal development, there are nebulous effects upon staff.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that a well-trained and developed workforce - not just the leaders and managers - results in a competitive advantage and more successful organisations.

This competitive edge is even more important at a time when retaining existing clients and winning new business is integral to weathering the economic downturn.

One of the main reasons SMEs in Wales engage in leadership and management training programmes is to achieve a change in the business culture in order to face future challenges and move the business forward. By maintaining their commitment to developing and enhancing their workforce, our research suggests that these businesses are significantly improving their prospects for future growth and prosperity.

Managers who embark on leadership and management development training report a significant increase in selfconfidence and motivation which enables them to put their real competencies and skills into practice in the workplace. …