It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that organizations are motivated in retaining their workforce and creating comfortable environment where they can realize their ambitions and bring business value. However, with external factors like digitalization and competitors’ progress, businesses may find themselves unable to close skill gaps with their current workforce. Dismissing the current workforce and hiring new employees isn’t a healthy option.
That’s why organizations adopt upskilling practices that allow them to kill two birds with one stone: retain employees, help them develop professionally, and fulfil business goals at the same time.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the benefits of workforce upskilling and some tips on how to upskill your employees on a budget. Read on!
Upskilling employees vs reskilling: what’s the difference?
Creating opportunities for lifelong learning will be key. – Branka Modrusan, PwC’s Academy
Let’s start with upskilling definition. In a nutshell, both upskilling and reskilling concepts imply learning new skills required by a company or a job profile. While reskilling means learning for a further changing of occupation within a company, upskilling means advancing the existing expertise to close skill gaps. As a rule, organizations upskill high-potential employees to boost their career paths and deepen their expertise.
This concept isn’t new, however, it gained traction in 2020 after the notorious COVID-19 outbreak that caused many organizations to downsize, dismiss their workforce, or rearrange their business models. A survey by TalentLMS shows that 42% of companies started to implement upskilling initiatives to adapt to a fluctuating economics and job market. Whopping 91% of companies admitted their upskilling and reskilling initiatives helped them improve productivity.
This isn’t the only benefit you get by training your employees. Let’s see what other advantages you can get with implementing an upskilling project at your organization.
Benefits of workforce upskilling
1. Improving employee engagement and retention rates
There’ a direct connection between workforce upskilling and employee engagement. The same survey by TalentLMS revealed that 74% of employees are likely to leave a company if their current one doesn’t provide any reskill or upskill courses.
Implementing upskill projects and training initiatives demonstrates your willingness to invest in employees, prepare them for the future professional growth, and prevent them from being redundant in a job market.
2. Closing skill gaps
“People will have a range of skills that will be unique to each person tomorrow, because they will learn AI, but also cooking, and soft skills. This cocktail of skills will make the difference over time. It’s not a package that you deliver. It will be a continuous process.” – Muriel Pénicaud, France’s Minister of Labour
Candidates take over the job market, which makes employers hire for the future. Even if a candidate doesn’t perfectly fit in the job profile but demonstrates great training abilities and has adjacent skills, 78% of organization will consider hiring them and upskill later.
Such tendency results in a huge skill gap. 92% of executives in the US believe that their current workforce isn’t skilled enough as they should be. For example, such soft skills as critical thinking, communication and writing skills, and leadership are one of the most lacking among candidates.
To flatten the skill gap curve, companies upskill and reskill their workforce to meet the digitalization demand and prepare for the future challenges. For example, Amazon came up with Upskilling 2025 program that’ll include company-wide training for the future jobs. The program is aimed at retaining their massive workforce and preparing them for working in areas like cloud computing and machine learning that’ll be in demand at Amazon by 2025.
3. Optimizing a recruiting workflow
Launching an upskill project can also improve your recruiting flow. With the right upskilling program in place, you’ll be able to get:
- Wider talent pool since you can source more candidates and attract more applicants with your learning and development offer.
- Thriving employer brand. Learning programs and upskill projects add you a competitive edge among competitors and create an attractive image of a reliable and progressive company.
- Increased number of referrals. Loyal employees are more likely to refer a company to their friends, especially when there are good reasons for that.
4. Promoting the continuous learning mindset
Upskilling is a continuous process that doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s a great foundation for developing a learning culture at your organization. One of the key drawbacks of on-demand training is that people rarely get a chance to put their knowledge into practice. With reskilling and upskilling projects, employees would know their career paths within an organization in a long-term run and practice their fresh skills at work.
How to upskilling your workforce: 3 proven practices
1. Revamp the existing learning programs
You don’t necessarily need to create an upskilling project from scratch. Instead, analyse your current learning programs and see if you can repurpose them for gamification or microlearning courses.
2. Implement different learning styles
When it comes to implementing an upskilling project, businesses face common challenges like lack of time, the dilemma of learning in a free time or at work, and lack of employee buy-in. That’s why organizations come up with different learning formats to ease the learning experience of employees.
Here are a few ideas of inexpensive yet easy-to-implement learning formats in terms of an upskilling project:
- Microlearning. This format implies short content formats like 5-minute videos that employees can watch on-demand or as a part of the continuous learning initiative. Microlearning is becoming more popular as it enables employees to study at their own pace with little time investments. For example, Pandora, a jewellery retailer, launched short 15-minute micro-courses to foster healthy employee-manager relations.
- Peer-to-peer training. If you already have required experts at your organization, why don’t you ask them for mentoring and training peers? Therefore, you’ll be able to allocate expertise within your organization, avoid inviting external coaches, and help experts develop professionally.
- Self-training. If you opt or self-training, set up smooth flow that’ll keep your workforce motivated in gaining new knowledge and applying it in practice. Think about devising a personal development plan (PDP) for each employee with key learning goals and outcomes after training. Thus, you’ll be able to measure progress of your employees and tweak learning program if necessary.
3. Implement upskilling software solutions
Even large enterprise organizations opt for ready-made solutions like learning management systems (LMS), virtual reality (VR) training software, or mentoring applications.
First, you don’t need to invest a significant amount of money in building your own software from scratch as well as find development partners (or setting up your in-house team), gather software requirements, and maintain the system afterwards.
Second, ready-made software can be set up as soon as you need it.
Finally, modern tools are easily customized to each organization’s needs and can be extended with additional modules, integrations, and more. Thus, you get personalized and scalable suite of tools on demand without any hassle.
smartPeople is a customizable and feature-rich platform that helps you perform in-depth people analytics to evaluate your current skill set and build an actionable plan to close the skill gaps. Request a free demo to check out advanced skill management opportunities of smartPeople.
Employee upskilling isn’t an HR trend that’ll go away soon. With digitalization, shifting to a “new normal” paradigm, and volatile economies, employers and their workforce must go hand in hand to ensure the profitability of businesses and maintain a competitive edge in a job market.
Here at HRForecast, we believe in the power of people analytics and workforce planning that’ll help organizations build long-term HR plans and prevent skill gaps in the future. If you’d like to find out about our customizable solutions for Strategic Workforce Planning, People Analytics and Upskilling, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you shortly.
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