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Business leaders must invest in their own skills to stay ahead

IoD North Wales chair David Roberts

As the post-covid battle for talent rages, the new chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) North Wales branch believes business leaders investing in their own skills could be the key when it comes to holding on to their best staff.

With a reported one million job vacancies across the UK, and many firms expanding their catchment area by embracing remote working, North Wales employers are facing stiffer competition for their employees.

And IoD North Wales chair David Roberts says that as well as focusing on factors such as current staff benefits to help ward off letters of resignation, self-development is a critical component.

David, who also runs peer-to-peer business advisory and coaching provider The Alternative Board in North Wales, has seen and heard first-hand the challenges companies face to keep skills in-house.

He said: “Most people start running their own companies because they have a particular area of expertise, but unless they’re running a human resources business, for example, HR is one of the many skills they just have to pick up along the way.

“HR is so much more than what to do in a disciplinary or what happens with payroll. It’s about the development of your people and looking after their wellbeing and happiness, and the techniques and best practices for this constantly change.

“Many business leaders feel like they’re supposed to have all the answers as they’re the ones ultimately responsible for their organisation, but this is an unfair assumption.

“We are past the days of employees just wanting pay rises and other monetary benefits. This means business leaders can’t just throw money at the problem; they have to understand what motivates their workforce and put steps in place.

“The big question is how do you find out what those steps are, and that’s where investing in personal development becomes crucial.”

David, who is also chair of the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership, which is part of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, also pointed at an increase in high-quality training becoming accessible due to remote learning.

He added: “Self-development doesn’t need to be time consuming. While at the top end you have Master’s degrees and PhDs, at the other end of the scale are short webinars and half-day training, with industry qualifications sitting in the middle.

“The key is identifying what your training need is and what courses will help fill that knowledge gap.

“In addition, while the ability to work remotely is increasing the chances of your staff being cherry picked by firms across the UK, the same technology means business leaders can access training they previously would have had to travel for.

“A perfect example is the IoD. Historically, members and non-members would often have to commute to London to complete learning. However, directors and senior management can now log on from the comfort of their own home and still receive the same level of training.”