How to motivate your employees for upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling
Table of contents
- Benefits of motivating employees to upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling
- Roadblocks in upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling employees
- Theoretical approaches to leverage employee motivation
- Upskill, reskill, and cross-skill your workforce with a toolkit by HRForecast
Did you know that the human brain is roughly three times larger than that of our nearest primate relatives, the great apes? Larger brains enable humans to perform all kinds of cognitive operations more efficiently than other species: We have greater memory capacity, can learn and process faster, do longer-term planning, and so on.
One of the questions from an evolutionary point of view is why humans have evolved such powerful and distinctive cognitive abilities. The answer is to function effectively in the evolving world. Humans simply had to learn to use artifacts and tools, which required special social-cognitive, social learning, and communication skills.
Today, technological progress through new and improved ways to produce goods and offer services has replaced labor with machines. As more job roles get obsolete with such progress, it’s essential to focus on how technological advancement impacts skills and the terms under which people will work in the future.
Benefits of motivating employees to upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling
For employers, primarily due to the tight labor market and continuous technological advancements across industries, fewer employable individuals are seeking work, which makes hiring new talent challenging. Therefore, companies are shifting their focus from hiring new talent to upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling their current employees.
In doing so, companies are making strides toward closing skills gaps within their businesses while increasing retention.
Let’s look at the top benefits of upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling your workforce:
Effective succession planning
Succession planning involves promoting top performers. However, to do this effectively, you must prepare prospective candidates for key positions for whatever challenges they might face in their new roles. Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling employees who already possess foundational skills gives them the tools and insights to face new challenges. In addition, it sets newly promoted employees up for success.
Better employee retention
A Gallup survey has reported that in a 100-person organization, the cost of employee turnover can be as high as tens of thousands of dollars annually. Retaining employees prevents excessive onboarding and job vacancy costs in an organization. And employees are more likely to stay in a company when they know there is room for growth through learning and development opportunities.
Improved talent management
Besides redefining job roles to fit current and future workforce needs, organizations must create an environment that supports the growth and development of employees and fulfills business goals at the same time.
The key to an efficient talent management strategy goes beyond focusing on individual employees’ employability, motivation, and productivity. Businesses must consider employees’ objectives as well. Here, upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling initiatives come into play, ensuring that both parties’ interests are met.
Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can be one to two times the employee’s annual salary. This proportion can be higher based on the employee’s education level and the seniority of the position. Although companies still must put time and money into reskilling and upskilling training, the skills gained nearly always lead to cost savings in the long run. The total cost of hiring a new employee includes costs for recruiting, advertising, training, interviewing, and more.
Employee efficiency and personal growth
Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling initiatives give all employees an equal opportunity to progress in their careers by identifying and participating in learning activities that correspond with personal and business goals.
Continuous learning focuses on cross-functional skill sets, giving employees the freedom of choice and making them more flexible in adapting to different challenges and performing varied tasks. Furthermore, it incentivizes the workforce to push boundaries, learn about new technologies, and take up new project assignments. Along with the holistic development of individual employees, continuous learning leads to the company’s growth.
Roadblocks in upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling employees
A mismatch of goals
Sometimes, employees’ professional goals may clash with the organization’s objectives and vice versa. For example, if employees don’t see any career prospects at their organization, they will not be motivated to upskill, reskill, or cross-skill. Having such goals will only lead employees to move to another organization where they can develop new skills and put them to use.
Unqualified methods to identify skills gaps
Many companies struggle with upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling their workforce, with some downright failing. The reason for such failure can be a lack of real connection between expensive training and the new job, or educational material that is too theoretical. Another possibility is that companies don’t understand their workers’ current skills, articulate the skills their workers will need in the future, and figure out how to connect the dots between the two.
That’s not to say that companies aren’t trying. It’s extremely difficult to ascertain what your workers already know and need to know to succeed in an entirely different job. When companies figure out how to reskill, it’s often too expensive or too late to transform their workforce. The result? Expensive, painful layoffs and buyouts, then long and resource-draining recruitment, hiring, training, and retainment campaigns.
Overlooking employee constraints
To promote effective practices for work-based learning, HR leaders need to understand the main learning constraints and challenges employees face. They also need to know how individuals can overcome these constraints. For example, not having enough time to learn is a feeling many employees can relate to. According to a LinkedIn report, “employees only spend 24 minutes or 1% of their time learning in a typical week, while 49% say they don’t have time to learn at work at all”.
One-size-fits-all rewards and recognitions
When rewards and recognitions are not competitive enough or are common to all employees, the particular achievement or milestone doesn’t feel that special. It’s important to tailor your rewards system to employees’ needs.
Theoretical approaches to leverage employee motivation
Motivation is probably the most important factor that HR leaders must target to improve learning through upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling the workforce. Below are some scientific management theories explaining how to motivate employees and examples of companies that have successfully applied these theories.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
In the mid-1950s, psychologist Abraham Maslow created his famous hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that certain lower-level needs must be met before a person will try to satisfy higher-level needs.
According to Maslow, an individual at the “basic level” tends to work hard on earning the minimum needed to support their daily life. The lowest level of need is satisfied when the employee has found a way to fulfill their basic needs for survival like food, clothing, and a place to stay.
Once this lowest level is satisfied, employees start working on ways to achieve the second level. In this level, the employee seeks for and achieves job security as well as a safe place to stay that allows them to be healthy and protect their family.
When with all necessary functions executed in this level, HR leaders can then focus on training for upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling the employee.
Wegman’s upskilling program, for example, helps employees fulfill the most essential level of Maslow’s hierarchy, improving employees’ quality of life. By offering their workforce educational assistance, Wegman’s prepares high school employees for management roles within the company. The benefits that have resulted from this program include a more educated workforce, a higher retention rate, and an increase in student graduation in areas where the program has been implemented. The program has also increased the number of students who remained with the company after graduation.
Herzberg’s two-factor theory
Psychologist Frederick Herzberg developed his two-factor theory on motivation in the workplace in the 1960s. Herzberg’s theory explains two categories of employee needs in an organization. The first is motivation factors that give employees a sense of satisfaction, and the other is hygiene factors that determine the basic level of stability and job security.
Tesco aims to motivate its employees by paying attention to hygiene factors and participating in the organization’s decision-making processes. For example, it motivates and empowers employees through appropriate and timely communication, delegating responsibility, and involving employees in decision-making. Tesco holds forums every year where employees can participate in discussions on pay raises. By offering these things, Tesco increases job satisfaction and ensures employees’ dedication and commitment.
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
In 1960, Douglas McGregor formulated Theory X and Theory Y, suggesting two aspects of leadership styles — or, in other words, two different views of individuals (employees).
For new workers who require a lot of guidance, or when an organization faces an expected crisis and requires a leader to take control, the Theory X style of leadership is applicable. The Theory Y leadership style is best used when managing a team of experts who work based on their own decisions and need little guidance.
According to McGregor, Henry Ford was a manager who adopted Theory X, as Ford closely monitored his employees. In contrast, Theory Y can be seen in companies that trust their self-directed employees to get their work done through worker-friendly policies, such as Google’s famed 20% time.
Upskill, reskill, and cross-skill your workforce with a toolkit by HRForecast
The HRForecast toolkit comprises blog posts and ready-to-use templates for upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling the workforce.
This blog post helps HR managers lay out reasoned analysis and approaches for an upskilling system that helps employees achieve their goals and helps organizations build a more modern, highly skilled workforce.
Understand what skills are needed or valued due to technological developments in IT to significantly alter your employees’ career paths.
Prepare your current workforce to thrive in an environment of rapidly changing skill demands and frequent disruptions by understanding future skills requirements.
This blog post provides insights to HR leaders on future hard and soft skills required so they can potentially revitalize the methods employed to train and coach new and existing employees.
Read how to create an effective upskilling strategy to boost the skills of your employees, decrease turnover, and bolster competitiveness.
Make use of an editable template for assessing specific employees’ abilities in relation to the present and potential demands of their job functions.
Contact our team to learn how we can help you cope with changes in demand for skills, lay down training systems responsive to structural changes in the economy, and recognize skills and competencies within your company.