HR, Thought Leaders

The Importance of Upskilling Your Employees

January 7, 2020

by Paul Azorín

Founder and Chief Technology Officer, BairesDev

Companies that upskill their employees and teach them new skills prove they are invested in their workforce. This leads to job satisfaction and better employee retention.

Though using technology for work isn’t exactly a new thing, the breakneck speed at which it advances is impacting companies in unseen ways. Regardless of your industry, chances are you’ve already noticed this in several aspects. From discovering new opportunities for growth to improving your existing processes, technology has surely benefitted you.

However, technology can also be a disruptive force in a more negative sense. That’s especially true when considering how emerging technologies and their constant evolution are creating skill gaps. Though there are industries that are more prone to suffering from skill gaps (healthcare, IT, and manufacturing sectors come to mind), most modern companies have felt the rising demand for highly skilled workers.

What can you do about it? Ignoring the problem will only worsen its effects. You can always go and hire staff augmentation services to fill in the gaps, especially during peak times. That will provide you with the talent you need on-demand. However, there’s another, often neglected route that may be a great alternative in the long run: You can bet on your current workforce and upskill your employees.

What Is Upskilling?

In short, upskilling is training your current workforce on new skills. The basic motivation to do so is expanding their skillsets to face new challenges that come with technological advancements. Investing in the development of your employees is a very smart strategy to developing your company in an ever-changing landscape.

In fact, 84% of employees say their company should help them build skills.

84% of employees say their company should help them build skills

You also limit employee turnover, which saves your business money. The average cost per person leaving your business amounts to more than $15,000. That’s without considering all the money and time you’ll spend when looking for a replacement, especially if your industry is a highly specialized one such as software development.

4 Benefits of Upskilling Employees

Training your existing workforce should be considered an investment rather than a cost. Upskilling your employees will bring additional benefits to the table:

1. Upskilling Improves Your Company’s Atmosphere and Overall Employee Happiness

Upskilling shows your employees how much you value them.

In addition, your investment is a clear sign that you want them to advance in their professional careers. This, in turn, provides a better outlook for their future. That directly translates into a positive office atmosphere, as your workforce will feel happier and motivated.

2. Upskilling Increases Employee Retention

Showing that you value your employees doesn’t just make them happy; it also increases their loyalty to you and your company.

Employees will value the investment you’re making in them and reward you with their commitment to your business.

3. Upskilling Draws in Job Candidates

Talented people want to work with businesses that have good atmospheres and that treat their employees in the best possible way. Upskilling your will show that your company is a great place to work.

Your upskilled employees will advocate for your business, creating a word-of-mouth about you. Thus, whenever a new job in your company opens, candidates will learn how you treat your workforce, and you’ll end up being more appealing to more people.

4. Upskilling Boosts Customer Satisfaction

If everyone in your company is happy, that will be evident not just to candidates looking for a job; it will also be obvious to your customers.

We live in a time when clients focus on their experience when dealing with brands. A happy workforce will surely have a positive impact on your customers.

As if that wasn’t enough, upskilling your employees will provide better insights to tend to your clientele, a knowledge they’ll certainly be thankful for.

How Can You Upskill Your Workforce?

Now that we’ve seen the benefits of upskilling, you might be wondering what you can do to start doing it at your company. As with any successful process, you need to have a plan in place.

The first thing you’ll have to do is research your current workforce’s state. Try to detect the existing gaps, and pinpoint the abilities that your employees are missing or that could be improved.

The top skills employees want to improve are:

  • Technology (18%)
  • Leadership/coaching (17%)
  • Problem-solving (15%)
  • Project management (12%)
  • Communication (10%)
  • Business (8%)

Top Skills Employees Want to Improve graph

You won’t be able to upskill anyone if you don’t know where the starting point is.

Then, it’s time to figure out the necessary time and location needed for training. There are several methods you should consider, including:

  • Making courses and training sessions available for anyone interested in them. There will obviously be some employees who will benefit more from certain training programs than others. However, making them available to everyone shows that you don’t want to leave anyone out of the upskilling process.
  • Use different approaches to teaching. There will be times when online platforms can do all the heavy lifting for you, but there will be other trainings you’d need a traditional classroom-teacher setting for. Combine all the tools you can put your hands on when teaching, as people learn differently from different channels.
  • Motivate your employees to take part in the process. You’ll surely find that some people will see the upskilling process as a meaningless effort or an extra task. Be sure to motivate them properly, making them understand how they can benefit from upskilling. After the training is complete, consider rewarding participants in some way. This will make them feel recognized and valued and will entice nonparticipants to take part next time.

Invest in Your Employees With Upskilling

Upskilling is a fantastic option to keep up with the high dynamics of our technology-driven world. It improves your company’s morale, makes your workforce feel recognized, increases your employee retention, and has a positive impact on the perception of both customers and potential hires.

Upskilling shows that you’re always putting your team first when tackling new challenges. This can be reinforced by something that we haven’t mentioned yet but that’s worth pointing out — using in-house talent to fill open positions. Promoting your own upskilled workforce to positions with higher responsibilities will certainly boost loyalty and show that you’re committed to the professional growth of the people working with you.

Upskilling is a practice that shows that investing in your employees can pay off big.

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