Clients expect professional service providers to offer the most up to date expertise and advice. Naturally, they expect us to be familiar with relevant legislation changes, regulatory reform, reporting standards and so on. But rightly, they demand more. They want professional service providers that are equipped with the latest skills to help their businesses thrive in a competitive world.
And that mix of skills is changing, as a result of the pandemic and the march of technology. For that reason, training should never be seen as a one-off activity that happens as part of an employee’s onboarding process and never repeated. Training needs to be a continuous journey enabling both growth in knowledge and impact within the firm as well as on client projects. In a fast moving digital world, knowledge that is current today can soon become obsolete. In fact, it has been calculated that the half-life of a work skill is four years. This could mean that every four years our skills become half as valuable. That period is likely to be considerably shorter for technology-based skills.
The key to loyalty and longevity
To give our clients the best possible service and advice, we need to continually update our knowledge and upskill our workforce. That’s especially true after a shock such as the Covid pandemic, which highlighted the importance of digital skills around the world.
But continual training serves another purpose. It helps organisations attract and retain the very best talent. It is generally recognised that top employees regard lifelong learning opportunities as a crucial employee benefit.
It is easy to see why. Good employees want their firms to be successful. They also want to equip themselves to thrive in an uncertain future.
Continual training is an effective way for employees to drive careers forward today, and to equip themselves for the career challenges of tomorrow, whether that means economic downturns or the encroachment of AI (artificial intelligence) into the world of work.
Your top employees know that the skills that are useful today may be very different from those they will need in ten years’ time. Organisations that help them continually acquire new capabilities are likely to be rewarded with loyalty and commitment.
Learning is securing your future
The benefits of training and development reinforce each other. Continual learning opportunities update your in-house expertise. Employees who feel invested in work harder to deliver better outcomes. It is win-win for firms, colleagues and clients.
In addition, training adds to your organisation’s wider knowledge base, and well trained staff identify new opportunities and contribute to organisational improvements. They help to drive change.
In that respect, continual learning and development is a bona fide way to future proof your firm, because it allows you to offer new services or new ways of working as soon as a demand for them becomes apparent. That can give you first mover advantage.
Learning is all encompassing
A key point to recognise is that learning comes in numerous forms. It can mean traditional off-site classroom-based courses, though these days it is just as likely to mean webinars and classes delivered online or over Zoom.
Here at UHY we provide a comprehensive range of training webinars to our member firms around the world, aimed at continually updating both the technical and ‘soft’ skills required for effective performance, and expanding the knowledge base of our global network of great people. In a profession which is continually changing, it is important to ensure the business has all the right skills on board.
But learning and development goes beyond formal classes and courses. It can encompass, for example, work shadowing and mentoring.
At UHY, we encourage member firms to offer secondments. These can fill operational gaps in the short term, build the skills and knowledge of the individual concerned as well as support service delivery to the client.
We find that secondment is especially invaluable when it happens across borders, because it brings our professionals first-hand knowledge of the challenges businesses face when they internationalise their operations. It also exposes them to different ways of solving problems, and helps us become more effective advisors to those of our clients with cross border ambitions.
Knowledge and skills are differentiators
UHY’s continual learning programme allows our professionals to update technical skills, keep up with wider developments in accountancy – whether they be international taxation guidelines or smarter tech solutions – alongside developing leadership, management, commercial and team-building skills.
UHY offers lifelong learning and development opportunities because it is the right thing to do. Our network of talented people want long and fulfilling careers, and we want them to build those careers with us.
By investing in their future, we are investing in the success of our clients.
Image acknowledgements: Microsoft 365 subscriber content
By Rhys Madoc, CEO, UHY International
Original post March 2022