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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

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Brick Manufacturers – The Lessons Those Responsible For Training Strategy Need to Learn


According to The Times on Monday, Britain is suffering from a shortage of bricks caused by the recent growth in house building. Apparently the time between ordering bricks and delivery has doubled to more than 12 weeks because many brick manufacturers closed factories to save costs. Those manufacturers are now having to invest time and money to get those factories up and running again.

My first thoughts were that it all sounded a bit short-sighted. I mean, with all the talk of a shortage of homes and the help to buy scheme, did brick manufacturers really not see this coming?

My second thought was that those who did see it coming are really going to be benefiting now!

My third thought was, oh dear, the same thing is happening in our industry. Still, almost unbelievably, we're hearing from organisations that are cutting their training budgets, or even closing whole training departments, just when the need for training and development is about to explode.;

One fundamental driver for this explosion (ignoring for the moment any need generated by growth in the economy) will be an increase in staff turnover.

During a recession, those in employment have a greater tendency to stay put. There is a reluctance to be the 'last in' to an organisation - to move into a new, unknown environment. Staying where you are feels like the safest option, even if you're not particularly satisfied or happy in your work. The result of this is a pent up demand for change. Indeed, I bet some reading this are, with the economy beginning to show those long awaited green shoots, secretly beginning to think about their next move.

According to The Employee Retention Handbook, published in 2002, staff retention in 1991 was 16%, in 1992 it fell to 10% and then from 1995 onwards, as the economy grew, it doubled to 20% and stayed there. The current rate of staff turnover in the UK is hovering around 14.6%, but if we look, more significantly at the number of staff voluntarily leaving their jobs, the figure for 2011, was a record low; just 9.3%. That figure is expected to double in the next five years, and my personal view is that this a conservative estimate.

An increase in staff turnover means new staff to train, new skills to develop and a greater need for investing in people development. But there's another point: Ironically, the staff most likely to be leaving for pastures new are those that feel that their current employer doesn't value them and isn't helping them to develop where they are. So, spending on training and development now, could help organisations manage future needs more effectively.

Closing brick factories before a building boom might seem short-sighted but before we laugh, perhaps we need to question whether we're prepared for the future or whether we're going to be giving our competitors a commercial advantage by similar short term measures that leave us equally unable to manage the demands and opportunities on the horizon effectively.

Rod Webb

The Employee Retention Handbook by Stephen Taylor, ISBN-13: 978-0852929636
CFO Insights:
Personnel Today: Resignation Rates at Lowest Level Since 2007

Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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