Resources for Upskilling Employees
Learn about the benefits and process of upskilling your employees to help in their career development—and your company’s future.
In today’s ever-changing world, employers are finding a profound need to fill the “skills gap” in their workforce. These gaps arise when an organization’s workforce doesn’t have the skills necessary to tackle the responsibilities of a transforming role. To keep up with demand, companies must constantly develop their employees to ensure they’re prepared to adapt to change, both now and in the future.
While there’s always been a need for professional development within an organization, the demand has increased in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a tight labor market, which makes it harder than ever to find qualified employees to fill the gaps. At the same time, roles are changing and current employees are yearning for professional development opportunities to strengthen their skill sets and knowledge. According to our internal studies, skill sets for jobs have changed by around 25% since 2015. By 2027, this percentage is expected to double.
For a business to be successful and grow, it must be forward thinking and provide opportunities for employees to also grow and further build on their career paths. Assisting the current workforce in expanding their skills and strengths is known as upskilling. More than just another buzzword, upskilling is the metaphorical key to unlocking the future of work, and here’s why.
When asked about their functionality, 59% of Learning & Development experts say upskilling takes priority.
What is Upskilling?
Upskilling is a workplace trend that’s championed in a rapidly changing business environment. To remain competitive in the job marketplace, employers need to constantly be assessing the skills of their employees and what they’ll need to succeed in current or future roles. With this approach, workers will be encouraged to learn more so they can build upon their existing foundation of knowledge and continue along their career journey.
From completing simple training courses to advancing their specialized soft skills, employees will be able to move into positions that help fill the gaps at their place of employment. When provided with clear opportunities for advancement and continued education, employees can acquire new and relevant talents that give them the leverage they need to grow in their field.
What are the Benefits of Upskilling Employees?
It’s no secret that employee turnover can be quite expensive due to the cost of onboarding and training a new employee. In fact, 79% of learning and development professionals agree: It’s less expensive to upskill a current employee than it is to hire a new one.
Upskilling employees doesn’t just boost the bottom line. An organization can also benefit in a handful of other areas, such as:
Improved Employee Retention
Not only does providing growth opportunities show that an employer cares to invest in its employees’ career development and future, it also ensures that those employees are able to envision a path to career advancement. According to a 2022 Workplace Learning Report, when a company excels at internal mobility, they’re able to retain employees for an average of 5.4 years—which is nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it.
Stronger Work Culture
When provided with a solid learning culture, employees will feel prioritized and supported along their career journey. According to research, the number one driver of a strong work culture was “opportunities to learn and grow.” This, in turn, boosts morale, teamwork, and overall satisfaction when upskilling the workforce.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Happy employees and happy customers often go hand-in-hand. When employees are current on industry trends, they’re able to provide customers and prospects with better insight. Top performing organization’s performance (those in the top 25%) depends on 4 business outcomes: exceeding business goals, responding quickly to marketplace changes, innovating faster than its competitors, and more satisfied customers than its competitors. High customer satisfaction can help to increase brand awareness and loyalty by creating strong advocates in the real world.
Expanded Talent Pool
When business is successful, a company’s reputation among job seekers and recruiters will reflect in parallel. When it comes time to expand your team, there will be a wider pool of diverse talent offering their expertise.
What Is the Process of Upskilling?
From a top-down view, the process of instituting a successful upskilling training program can seem daunting. Being proactive by focusing on your industry’s future demands will help your company stay ahead of its competition. An effective upskilling process should include training and development opportunities that are readily available to all employees.
According to an Association for Talent Development report, it was found that almost 90% of companies are currently offering digital learning courses to their workforce. Managers can encourage employees to participate in training programs by connecting their skill building to internal mobility, career pathing, and retention.
Put focus on the employee experience throughout the entire process. Make sure to provide positive reinforcement and incentives for employees’ hard work. In fact, companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it, where the average retention span is 2.9 years. They’ll feel empowered and supported along the way through a rewards and benefits plan—the happier the process, the happier your workforce.
Steps to a successful upskilling strategy
A solid upskilling strategy is a multifaceted process—and there are many ways to implement an effective program with hopes of moving the needle. Here are some of the most helpful steps to get started:
Prioritize Areas & Future Skills
Management and company leaders should take the time to identify which areas and skills are needed based on the organization’s goals. Whether implementing a new marketing strategy or adopting the latest software, understanding each department’s future needs is an essential part of upskilling.
Utilize Current Workforce Experts
When looking into gaining more employees with a particular skill set, take a look around your existing workforce. If there’s an employee with expertise in a specific area, you could offer a mentor-based upskilling program. Through one-on-one coaching, a novice can learn tricks of the trade from someone they’re either already familiar with or who may have a relatable career path from the same company. In fact, 52% of the world’s workforce is expected to upskill employees by using internal resources.
Group Training Sessions
If more than one employee needs upskilling, companies can hire external specialists for group coaching sessions. These trainings can be focused on areas such as upskilling managers in a remote landscape or educating the team on the latest productivity software. By doing this, a larger portion of employees will be skilled in an area of expertise and be part of the company’s future goals and success.
Circle Back for Progress
Following up on progress is a great way to keep track of whether or not your upskilling strategy is effective. By measuring outcomes and milestones, a company can identify which opportunities work best to help employees gain new skills, and which underperform.
Employee Enrollment in Courses
While employers can collaborate with local universities, as they may provide flexible schedules and opportunities to work on a particular area of focus, there are also great benefits to upskilling via online courses.
- Online Courses: Great for getting employees up to speed on the latest industry trends, these courses are a valuable opportunity for those with busy schedules.
- In-Person Courses: As many occupations include some sort of hands-on training, local universities may offer continued education courses that feature a more formal upskilling program.
Overall, in order for an organization to retain top talent and stay ahead of the competition, it’s important to upskill current employees and prepare them for the future. By utilizing a variety of continued education courses, employers can effectively train their teams for changing industry trends.