We seem to be entering a phase of increasing optimism with shadows of the recent tough economic times just starting to shrink back. So, it’s not surprising to see more organisations increasing headcount to anticipate future growth. However, while a rise in recruitment activity is certainly a positive move forward for the economy, we cannot afford to overlook the assets already at our disposal.

Current employees are the biggest resource for a business. Not only are they the cogs that keep the organisation running and provide the competitive advantage for the company in a busy marketplace, they are also the best advert for future talent. Staff are quite simply our biggest assets when selling a company as a great place to work. If employees aren’t currently happy in the business then it’s likely that they’ll not only leave, but also potentially impede candidate attraction. Perhaps one of the best methods of retaining top talent and keeping them motivated in their role is through the provision of training and development opportunities.

If we consider how fast paced the current business world is, the need to constantly up-skill the existing workforce is perhaps understandable. And with global competition rife, it could be considered an obvious statement to say that staff development is vital. However, it would appear that there is a startling lack of such initiatives.

In fact, recent research carried out by a&dc has suggested that a sharp drop in training is putting organisations at risk of stagnating, losing top talent and falling behind the competition. As many HR professionals might be aware, a study by think-tank IPPR for the US bank JPMorgan, has also identified that UK businesses suffered a drop in training four times greater than any other European country during the recession, leading to a skills deficiency that threatens to hold back recovery. An analysis by The UK Commission for Employment and Skills also found that only two in three employers provided any training whatsoever and the annual total spent on this had fallen by £2.4bn since 2011.

It is a sad truth that in tough times development budgets are one of the first areas to face cut backs, but an obvious truth is that It costs far more to recruit new professionals than it does to develop your existing workforce, and in many instances, the best way to utilise talent and increase output or efficiency is by maximising the potential of existing staff.  The lack of training in many organisations is also potentially damaging in terms of staff engagement. Without the proper opportunity to develop, talent will begin to look elsewhere and, as we have seen in the past, we could again soon begin to see these businesses struggling to hang on to their top professionals.