Workforce quality, not quantity most important for SA business


Business leaders in South Australia are shifting their attention to the quality of their workforce by focussing on investment in training rather than increasing the quantity of skilled workers a new survey by CEO peer support organisation, The Executive Connection (TEC) has found.

The TEC survey found 40% of business leaders named investing in staff training and boosting skills their number one priority in 2011.  Only 15% were concerned about the quantity of prospective employees in the state, with the remaining 45% listing a range of other priorities including securing higher income and increasing work-life balance as their focus.

TEC Chairman for South Australia, Dr Adrian Geering, is a mentor for business leaders in SA and believes the focus on quality above quantity is a growing trend and reflects business leaders’ recognition of the talent that can be found in South Australia.

“Recruitment of ‘the right people’ is a concern for leaders of SMEs in South Australia.  Many TEC members discuss spending time and effort on training, education and development of their employees.  The members who have invested in improving the knowledge, skills and attitudes of employees have found it benefits their business operationally and strengthens their employees’ commitment to the company,” Dr Geering says.

Mark Lewis, Executive Chairman of Bernie Lewis, is a TEC member who offers his staff ongoing training that is tailored to their personal and professional needs.  Through ongoing mentorship from his TEC Chair and discussions with his peers, Bernie was advised to spend time finding out where his staff members’ strengths and weaknesses were and to develop specific extra training or education that would benefit each individual personally and professionally.

“During round-table discussions, my peers highlighted to me the fact that ongoing training and development doesn’t need to be prescriptive, that my employees may become more engaged simply by being offered the opportunity to talk about areas they would like to improve in or explore further”, he says.  “Providing my staff with opportunities for extra training continues to be a valuable investment and through a great deal of hard work I have a dedicated team who are capable of delivering the results our customers are after”.

Dr Geering recommends business leaders engage with their employees to ensure ongoing learning and development ‘check-ins’ are conducted alongside performance reviews in order to stay on track.  Peer support groups like TEC can also provide leaders with access to fresh ideas and new ways of thinking about their employees and their developmental needs for the organisation.