Upskilling is essential in replacing outdated skills that are no longer relevant to today’s changing job landscapes. Deloitte has argued essential skills only last for five years on average. With the lifespan of skills in rapid decline, there are now higher demands on businesses to equip their teams with the necessary tools for success. A study conducted by PWC found that four out of five CEOs believe workers who lack essential skills and training are considered a threat to organisational growth. Whether it be through independent learning or workplace training, employers should take it upon themselves to offer learning and development opportunities for their team. Long before COVID-19 hit, evolving technologies had begun to radically disrupt the job market. Although these advancements have created exciting business opportunities, it has also left a gap in the skills required. Ideally, employers should aim to bridge the gap while retaining their current workforce. Here is where it’s critical to learn the value of upskilling. Now more than ever is the time for businesses to extend their learning budgets and make a commitment to reskilling their workforce. Whether it means being trained in a different department, learning a new essential skill or language, regardless, you’re equipping your employees with fresh and exciting capabilities that are an asset to organisational growth.
Why it is important to upskill your teams
Change is inevitable; there is no way around it. COVID-19 has proven that our world can change in an instant. Businesses have been forced to adapt to new ways of working and had to learn the importance of training and educating staff so they are more dynamic and agile in the face of change. Although these changes are temporary, the benefits gained from the new skills learnt are not. Ongoing support, education and career-building exercises help keep your employees productive, agile, motivated and engaged in solving problems and designing innovative solutions – ultimately enhancing your bottom-line results. A company who prioritises the training and development of their employees’ skill sets will be able to sustain a prominent competitive advantage in this new digital era. As Deloitte’s Bill Pester argues, upskilling is now considered a “business imperative”. Without continuous learning, organisations risk losing internal talent and lagging behind more agile competitors. Employee turnover can be a costly hit to your organisation and studies tend to agree. There are many costs associated with hiring, onboarding and training replacements. It also takes time for a recruit to familiarise themselves with the company culture and the ins and outs of their team’s workflow. Your people are your company’s most valuable asset. Upskilling your team comes at a far smaller cost to your business than hiring a replacement. By expanding the skillsets of your current employees, you will find yourself with a more diverse, agile, innovative, well-rounded workforce that can adapt quickly to change. All this, of course, can help boost your bottom-line results, but it doesn’t stop there. There are many benefits to upskilling your team and today we’re going to talk you through six worth noting:
1. Employee retention
We can all agree working for an organisation that cares little for personal growth and development is not a desirable place to work. Employees want to feel as though their ongoing training is a priority and their company supports and encourages active learning. Upskilling teams will prevent their skills from becoming redundant, while also proving you care for their future career development. Naturally, this will help to retain your current workforce and reduce costs associated with turnover. All in all, it’s a win-win situation.
2. Boosts workplace morale
This goes hand in hand with employee retention, as teams with various learning and development opportunities will have higher workplace morale overall. Not only will it provide more comfort in their working environment but also encourages employees to feel happier in their roles and have a more positive outlook on their future within the company. Upskilling your workforce paves the way for career advancement and provides a more profound sense of purpose within your organisation.
3. Greater talent acquisition
In situations where your company has proven to be successful, chances are you will need to expand your current workforce. Learning and development opportunities will provide you with access to a broader talent pool when searching for recruits. That is because such opportunities are attractive for job seekers looking to advance their careers and expand existing skill sets. Additionally, providing opportunities to upskill also helps establish a sharper brand image within the market. By supporting your team’s learning and development, they will serve as strong brand advocates for your company. This is also an attractive feature for highly qualified applicants with extensive skills and experience. Unsure how and when to hire new talent? Have a look at the HR Manager’s Guide: Knowing When to Hire New Employees, here.
4. Increased customer satisfaction
At the core of your business are your customers. To make your customers happy, you must first prioritise the happiness of your employees. As we mentioned earlier, learning and development opportunities help your team feel motivated and engaged in their roles, which means they can provide better service to your customers. Moreover, upskilling helps keep your team up to date on relevant industry trends, insights and recommendations which provide value to the customer experience. With a more knowledgeable and well-rounded team, you will find they have a better understanding of who their customers are and how they can tailor your business around them.
5. Higher levels of productivity
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that upskilling helps to increase your company’s productivity. The more skilled your teams are, the less time they will spend researching how to execute a specific task. This also means you can cut costs and save time when searching for an expert to finish the job. Upskilling also enhances your employees’ efficiency levels, yielding more significant turnaround and performance. With extra time on their hands, you will find teams are far more innovative and creative with brainstorming new business ideas and strategies.
6. It creates a culture of learning
Businesses who support training and development foster a culture of active learning. In this environment, employees will look to upskill on their own initiative. Encouraging continual learning as opposed to annual training sessions, will prevent staff from being overloaded with information they are less likely to retain. Instilling a culture of active learning will help your company be more responsive and prepared for the ever-changing nature of today’s employment landscape.
Where to from here?
Start by assessing any gaps in your company’s knowledge and encourage your staff to identify their own career development goals. Create learning strategies and personal development plans to help your company achieve its goals. The beauty of technology means learning no longer has to be face-to-face. To help people develop their skills, there are thousands of easily accessible and flexible courses offered online. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, check out 7 Examples of Great Employee Learning Programs.
The wrap up
It’s safe to say the concept of upskilling has been gaining traction long before COVID-19. As we look towards a post-pandemic future, businesses must focus on providing learning and development opportunities or risk falling behind. Moreover, there is no better time than now to leverage the additional hours flexible working arrangements have provided. Providing opportunities for staff to develop their skills will help your business excel both now and in the future.
Want more information? 💡
If you’re interested in learning more about why now is the perfect time to upskill, check out this useful guide here.