Training versus Tech – Which Is the Better Investment?
The world of work keeps evolving. Recently we’ve all seen significant changes in the way we work, particularly during the last eighteen months. With budgets squeezed as a response to the challenging times in which we live, employers are often faced with a choice – invest in training for their employees or invest in tech? Let’s take a look at which is the better investment.
Training versus Tech
There are a few jobs for which training isn’t required. However well qualified and highly experienced a new employee is, they’ll still need training in how their new company functions to gain an understanding of processes, its ethos, and best practice.
The Benefits of Training
- Safety – training enables employees, both current and new, to perform their jobs safely. A recent Employer Skills Survey highlights that almost half of staff training is focused on Health and Safety. Whether that’s having the correct chair to sit on, knowing fire safety procedures or how to operate a particular piece of machinery. It’s vital that employees are kept safe and well at work
- Productivity – good training boosts employee productivity thanks to a combination of improved confidence, enhanced technical skills and knowledge of their role, and standardisation of work practices
- Better recruitment – employees are more likely to join an organisation which offers training both as part of their on-boarding package and as an on-going process than companies that don’t. Initial training makes an employee feel welcome, valued and part of their new team. It also helps them get up-to-speed on the job which in turn increases their confidence and boosts their performance from the outset
- Retention – employees who receive regular and ongoing training are more likely to stay with a company. Lowering recruitment costs and enhancing loyalty.
According to the latest available government figures UK employers spend an average of £1,500 per employee on staff training per year, with a total spend of around £42b.
The ROI on training can be easily measured; downtime is reduced, sales are increased, customer satisfaction rises, fewer mistakes are made and the bottom line is increased.
Tech Versus Training
A recent survey among UK businesses found that almost 75 percent of them had increased their tech investment in 2020, with an average company spending almost £1.5m on technology tools. No doubt this was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which swept the world, requiring employees to work from home and needing investment in collaborative tools such as Teams or Slack. As well as an increased reliance on cloud platforms, for example.
However, many organisations are also investing in such futuristic-sounding items as AI and automation which are playing an increasingly important role in the economy. It’s forecasted that the UK’s GDP has the potential to increase by over 10 percent within the next nine years, the equivalent of a further £232bn, thanks to an increased use of AI.
This ‘fourth industrial revolution’ can revolutionise how we work. It affects companies in three main areas:
- Its assets –infrastructure, data platforms and any associated machinery
- Its operations – payments, processes and customer interactions
- Its workforce – employees need to be digitally skilled to operate within new environments
Automation and AI have the potential to increase productivity which, it’s said, will lead to greater economic growth, increased efficiencies and better workplace safety. Already we’re seeing a rise in the way that employers look for staff. for example, with CVs being scanned by algorithms, and social media being used as a hiring tool.
Technology is also being used to perform repetitive tasks that were previously done by humans. It’s been shown that around 60 percent of jobs have at least some activities that can be automated – in some cases up to 30 percent of tasks have that potential. In some instances, tech has been proven to both increase productivity and reduce costs, while at the same time improve the customer experience and tighten security.
An interesting side note on the use of technology in the workplace is that it opens up opportunities for marginalised sections of the workforce to participate. People such as stay-at-home mothers or people with disabilities – who could take advantage of flexible working options created by digital platforms.
There’s no doubt that technology is changing how we work. Not just now but also in the future. And while automation and AI will affect some employees more than others, it’s vital that those who are impacted by it are trained in its use. Technology without training simply won’t work, so it’s important that employers find a balance between the new systems they are bringing online and training their staff to realise its potential fully.