Read Time 6 minutes
Author udrafter
Date February 28, 2022

Upskilling Your Workforce: Why is it more important than ever?

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Research shows that in nearly 75% of cases, businesses see improvements in performance, productivity, and profitability when they invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees.

Are you interested in closing skill gaps and prioritising continuous training and development for your team? Are you unsure of where to begin?

Read on to learn more about the importance of upskilling your workforce. You’ll also find some suggestions on how to start upskilling your team today.

What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling is all about facilitating continuous learning through employer-provided training and development programs. It focuses on improving a current employee’s skillsets to help them advance and rise through the ranks at the company.

Some common forms of upskilling might include:

⦁ Virtual and online courses
⦁ Mentoring and shadowing other employees
⦁ Microlearning (small learning units and short activities)

What Is Reskilling?

Reskilling is similar to upskilling. However, it places more of an emphasis on teaching an employee new skills so they can do a different job, rather than teaching skills that will help them gain a promotion in a similar field.

What Are the Benefits of Upskilling Your Team?

A lot of businesses assume that they should look for highly skilled employees, rather than training and upskilling existing talent. In reality, though, upskilling can be more beneficial in the long term. Here are some of the top reasons why:

Create a Culture of Learning and Growth

If continuous learning and a commitment to growth aren’t part of your company’s core values, they probably should be. After all, what business owner doesn’t want their employees to care about their ongoing improvement and strive to be the best they can be?

When you make upskilling a priority and provide opportunities for your team members to expand their skill sets, you walk the walk, rather than just talking the talk. You’re showing them that you truly care about their evolution and want them to progress and succeed in their careers, rather than remain complacent.

Save Time and Money

Don’t forget, upskilling and reskilling can help you to save time and money, too.

Think about how long it takes and how much money it costs to fill a vacancy and bring on a new employee. Not only do you have to factor in the cost of placing job ads and the time it takes to interview candidates, but you also have to think about the amount of productivity you miss out on while you’re training new employees and getting them up to speed on company culture and mission.

Wouldn’t it be easier to upskill or reskill an existing employee and teach them what they need to know to do a different job (or a more expanded version of their current job)?

Increase Employee Retention

Upskilling your workforce also helps to increase employee retention rates.

When you show your employees that you have faith in them and want to give them the skills they need to succeed, they’re going to be more inclined to stick with you long-term. They’ll appreciate the fact that you invested in them and will repay you with company loyalty.

Keep in mind, too, that better employee retention rates also lead to increased savings.

It’s almost always more expensive to recruit new talent than it is to upskill existing talent. If you’ve been hesitant about upskilling because you think training costs too much, remember all the ways that it can actually reduce spending.

Increase Productivity and Engagement

Not only will your employees want to stay with you for a long time if you offer regular upskilling opportunities, but they’ll also be more engaged and productive.

The UK currently has an employee engagement rate of 50%. That means half of your workforce is current disengaged while on the job!

If you want to increase the number of engaged employees at your company and have a more productive, motivated, and enthusiastic team, give them opportunities to push themselves and develop new skills.

Attract More Talent

Even with consistent upskilling opportunities, you will still have times when you need to hire new talent. However, if your company is known for prioritising upskilling and reskilling among its employees, you’ll likely find that the talent acquisition process is a lot easier.

People will generally be more eager to work for a company that cares about its employees, wants to help them develop new skills, and wants to set them up for success.

If you start doing these things now, when the time does come to bring in some fresh talent, you’ll be able to fill gaps faster and find skilled, qualified employees more easily.

Improve Company Reputation

On a similar note, you can improve your company’s reputation in a major way when you focus on upskilling your workforce.

Your employees will likely be grateful that you’re providing them with chances to develop new skills and qualify for promotions and raises. In turn, they will be more inclined to act as brand ambassadors for your business and will speak positively about it when people ask what it’s like to work there.

They may even leave positive reviews on job online boards like Glassdoor, too. This will further simplify future recruitment efforts and help you attract new and early talent.

How Can a Company Upskill Its Workforce?

Are you ready to focus on upskilling early career talent? If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips that will help you create an effective plan for your employees:

1. Evaluate Skill Gaps

Start by assessing your team’s current skill sets. There are lots of tests out there, many of which are free, that you can utilise when taking this step.

Figure out what skills your employees have and in which areas they’re currently lacking. This information will help you decide what kinds of training opportunities you need to invest in and start offering to your employees.

When you conduct evaluations and assessments first, you can avoid spending money on training courses and programs that no one is interested in or that don’t align with your company’s mission and long-term goals.

2. Make Training Available and Accessible

Once you’ve decided what kinds of training are most valuable to your employees, make those training materials readily available and easily accessible.

Let your team know that you’re providing them with these opportunities, and if possible, make them free or at least very low-cost. If people have to spend a lot of money to receive extra training, they’re probably not going to want to move forward with it.

Encourage all team members to participate in these extra training sessions, too. You never know who might stand out as a rising star once training sessions begin, so don’t limit them to just a few select employees.

3. Accommodate All Learning Styles

Remember, everyone learns differently.

Some people are perfectly content to read a textbook, take notes, and sit for a written test. Others prefer microlearning sessions that last just 10 to 15 minutes, and others do best with hands-on training options.

Try to provide a wide range of learning opportunities so that everyone is accommodated, even if they don’t learn in the most traditional way. This increases the likelihood that people will want to participate, and it sets more people up to benefit from the training programs you’re offering.

4. Let Employees Make Their Own Choices

While it’s good to encourage everyone to participate in your company’s upskilling opportunities, be cautious about making training mandatory for your entire team.

When you let people decide what kinds of skills they want to develop or where they want to focus their energy, you’ll see a higher level of enthusiasm among your team. They won’t feel forced into extra work and, instead, will be excited to do something new.

In most cases, letting people make their own choices will also lead to more engagement and productivity among your employees.

5. Reward People for Their Efforts

Finally, make sure you’re rewarding people for their hard work. When someone completes a training course or masters a new skill, celebrate them. Give them a shout-out, recognise them in the company newsletter, take them out to lunch, or offer them a bonus.

When you make upskilling worth people’s while, they’ll be more inclined to continue with their training, keep progressing, and stand by your company. All of this is great for them and your business’s bottom line.

Start Prioritising Upskilling Today

Upskilling helps to reduce employee turnover, increase employee retention rates, and create a strong, results-driven company culture.

Have you been resistant to the idea of upskilling? Have you been searching for candidates who meet a highly specific set of qualifications, rather than seeking out early talent?

If so, it might be time to change your approach. To increase productivity, profitability, and retention, give new talent a try and focus on upskilling instead.

Check out Udrafter today for more help recruiting students and graduates. We simplify the recruitment process and make it easier than ever for you to find promising new employees for your business.

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