Management & Leadership

Why You Should Focus on Upskilling Your Employees

Part of retaining and attracting top candidates hinges on your company’s growth opportunities. Employees want to keep learning and growing, and they want to know that they add value and have opportunities to move up. There are many skills including soft skills that you can help your employees develop. There has never been a more apt time than now to focus on upskilling your employees. 

What is upskilling? 

According to Merriam-Webster, “upskilling” is to provide (someone, such as an employee) with more advanced skills through additional education and training. Upskilling can help professionals develop their personal and professional skills that will help them advance in their careers. 

Why is upskilling important? 

A Gallup-Amazon study stated that 48% of workers in the United States would be willing to switch jobs if offered skills training opportunities and 65% of employees believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job. 

Upskilling is essential not only for your business but also for your employees’ career paths. Focusing on upskilling programs shows your employees that you value and appreciate them and gives them reassurance that they can continue to grow within your organization. Here are some reasons it’s important to focus on upskilling programs: 

  • Markets and job roles are always evolving, so upskilling employees will help your business keep up with current trends and new knowledge. 
  • Upskilling keeps employees and the business competitive because they are able to identify and fill skill gaps with their additional or sharpened skill sets.
  • It boosts employee satisfaction, morale and productivity as employees feel they are cared for. 
  • Upskilling enables more promotions from within the company rather than having to hire externally. 
  • It reduces employee turnover and increases employee retention, a big bonus for maintaining top talent. 
  • Upskilling is a way to invest in the future of your business. 

Creating an upskilling program 

As you get started on building an upskilling program, here are some tips to help you create your strategy. 

1. Identify employee goals as well as business goals 

Create a plan with goals related to the business as well as your employees. Determine the overarching goals of the business so you can see how your employees can help fulfill them. This is the best way to create a strategy and seek the necessary tools moving forward to fulfill the plan.

2. Explore business and employee strengths

What are some of the strengths of your company? Additionally, what are your employees’ strengths that add to the company? Map out all the strengths and skill sets when making an upskilling strategy. You want to work on focusing and developing these strengths and skills to level up performance and productivity.  

3. Communicate the value of upskilling 

You need to let your team know the value of upskilling and how it can benefit them individually and the company as a whole. Be open and prioritize learning opportunities for every role and at every level of the organization. Having ongoing conversations about upskilling will keep employees engaged and inspire them to seek out learning opportunities to further their career growth

4. Provide the opportunities 

Give easy access to learning opportunities. Provide access to programs and other growth initiatives that employees are able to participate in without undue effort on their part. Allow employees to carve out time during their work week to participate in these programs so that they are not doing it all on their own time. This encouragement should come from leaders and managers to further demonstrate the organization is sincere about growth and learning.

5. Create personal development plans 

Work with individuals to come up with goals and aspirations for their careers. This is a great way to come up with appropriate plans to help them map out a potential path in the company.

6. Get feedback and make improvements 

As you implement a new program, you will find gaps, mistakes and other areas that need improvement. Take the time to gather feedback to see what works and where you can do better. This is the best way to have a program that works and continues to inspire individuals to grow within your organization. 

Upskilling is necessary when it comes to retaining top talent in your business. You need to start investing in your business and the best way to do this is with your employees. They are the ones who bring results and help achieve business goals. New programs can be challenging, but with adequate feedback and learning, they can evolve to be effective for everyone.

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