When business gets quiet we tend to go into panic mode. One of the best tools to help you see the big picture is a SWOT analysis. In simple terms it is a list of pros and cons for your business, or more specifically a list of:
- Opportunities, and
The benefit of a SWOT analysis is that it helps you to realise that in many cases a negative effect on your business can actually result in a positive outcome. The threat of a downturn in production can mean the opportunity to take some time to grow your business, develop your workforce and/or improve your product.
Research shows that employers who provide staff training and development activities benefit from better customer service, improved work safety practices and increased productivity. In addition, showing your workforce that you value them enough to invest in them improves loyalty and staff retention1.
In Australia, a quick search in the training.gov.au website will show thousands of nationally recognised training packages and courses ranging from mining to music.
You may find that you already have everything you need to develop staff, right there in your own office. Nigel Fenwick in his blog, Ten Steps to Increased Productivity Through Effective Training says “focus… on how people do their jobs today and how existing technology/applications can help them be more productive”. Fenwick gives the example of Microsoft Excel and Outlook and how so many of us complete our work the hard way simply because we don’t know any better2.
Picture a rainy Monday morning on a construction site somewhere around the country. Instead of sending the crew home, use the time productively by getting them to complete the free online Take 5 Risk Assessment and Hazard Observation Training Package at www.pertrain.com.au. This is a cost effective way of promoting a safer working environment for your organisation and again showing your staff that you value their health and safety.
You may even be eligible for government funding to help you meet the costs of developing your workers. For example, in Australia, see:
- http://www.australiangovernmentgrants.org/grants-loans-calculator/grant-finder.php (Small business)
- http://grants.myregion.gov.au/grant-categories/ (Various)
- http://grants.myregion.gov.au/grant-categories/education-and-training (Apprenticeships and Cadetships).
So … Next time you are starting to worry that your customer traffic has slowed down, don’t close the doors. Open a window and enjoy the breeze of opportunity. Don’t swat the flies that come in – SWOT your business instead. You may just find that a slight pause in business is the best possible thing that ever happened for you, your staff and your bottom line.
- South Australian Government, Skills for All, 2013, http://www.skills.sa.gov.au/for-employers-business/training-your-staff/benefits-of-training-your-staff
- Fenwick, N. Ten Steps to Increased Productivity Through Effective Training, 2010, http://blogs.forrester.com/nigel_fenwick/10-03-31-ten_steps_increased_productivity_through_effective_training