Upskilling is the concept that you invest in learning and development for existing employees. You actively work to help them to learn new skills instead of recruiting new employees to fill skills gaps.
So, why should your organisation focus on upskilling? Not only will it help your organisation remain competitive, but it also provides a great return on investment because employers who invest in their people, tend to see increased loyalty. Employees who receive upskilling opportunities are more likely to stay to use their new skills.
What is Upskilling?
Organisations that upskill assess the current workforce and identify gaps in skills. The idea is to not change systems or processes to meet people where they are but to elevate the workforce to learn new skills. Upskilling helps employees learn vital skills needed to advance in their career paths.
Upskilling is empowering your team to diversify their skill set. When you empower employees with more skills, you will see improvements in productivity and performance.
A recent study showed that over half of the global workforce will need to complete upskill training to accurately do their jobs by 2030. Does your organisation need help to craft a strategy? It's important to understand how to create a unique strategy to meet the needs of a hybrid work environment.
How to Craft an Upskilling Strategy for a Hybrid Work Environment
The first step in creating a strategy is to assess your organisation. Where are gaps showing up? What skills are lacking?
This assessment will help you understand what areas need improvement. It will also show you what areas employees want to improve in.
Then, you make a plan to resolve these issues and meet employee expectations. Upskilling should be seen as an ongoing investment in your global workforce.
Merging learning and development into your organisation's culture is vital for success. By allocating more of your budget and gaining employee feedback about training, you take a large step toward achieving this.
When it's time to execute the plan, you must assess individuals and adapt according to specific skills. Monitoring the progress of your program to ensure success is a vital step in the process.
Challenges in Upskilling
Many organisations expect technology to move their company forward, but if an organisation wants to grow, it must invest in its talent. Organisational leaders should conduct a comprehensive analysis to understand where knowledge falls short.
Sometimes, a company focuses intensely on internal training but still fails. This is because they didn't measure if teams were actually learning the skills. Organisations must align programs with specific organisational needs to see optimal results.
Developing an Upskilling Program
First, you must assess the skills gaps in your in-house and remote teams. After you assess your organisation, you should prepare your leadership team. This may mean more training for them in order to upskill employees.
With a hybrid model, you must focus on soft skills that may be lacking for your remote and on-site employees. Oftentimes, working remotely isolates employees. You can navigate this with tools to improve communication and collaboration virtually.
When designing the pieces of training, using a blend of in-person and self-paced learning modules with increase learning retention. This could include webinars, live sessions, and collaborative workshops. Hands-on training sessions will also help improve communication and collaboration.
You should shape your training sessions around the needs of your virtual team. If you have a global workforce, this may mean unusual meeting times or hosting more than one to hit all the time zones. Recording live sessions for employees who can't make the session is also an option.
Finally, adapt the program to your teams' needs. Assess learning styles and methods to implement a robust program that fits your organisation's culture. The right learning and development software will go a long way in organising your content and streamlining the process.
Benefits of Upskilling
There are many benefits to increasing the skills of your team. The number one benefit is your team can do more! They are empowered to make decisions and apply new skills to problem solve common problems.
Additional benefits include:
- Employee engagement
- Employee retention
- Prepares your team for anything
Hiring new employees is a costly process, so why not focus on upskilling your existing team instead?
A true upskilling program that offers opportunities for employees to grow improves engagement. Investing in your workforce shows them you care about their career paths. It also enables them to succeed.
Prepares Your Team for Anything
When you equip your team with more skills, they are prepared to face new challenges. Upskilling positions your teams for growth and career progression.
92% of organisations are dedicating resources to improving the employee experience. This is a key step in retention, but so is upskilling. When you invest in talent and truly understand their needs, you will keep more employees on board.
Investing in professional development can get quite expensive for employers. By including upskilling as a key component of your learning and development strategy, you motivate employees to stay with your company.
Actively working to improve their skills and support their career path goals shows them you value them and are serious about supporting growth. A structured upskilling program can also be used in job descriptions to attract top talent.
Challenges of Engagement and Talent Shortages in a Remote Environment
20% of workers polled about The Great Resignation said they would leave their existing company for a job with the same pay, if the new company offered a flexible work environment. This confirms that a flexible work environment is important to a lot of workers.
So, how do you navigate these challenges? Workers clearly want remote working or a hybrid environment, but how do you make sure they receive the same experience your in-office team does?
One solution is to increase engagement through upskilling. A team member that feels valued, respected and that their company invests in their interests is much more likely to stay on board than one that feels like their employer doesn't support their career goals.
At Xref, any information or training sessions that we run are done so through a combination of those who have travelled to the office and those working from home. An individual team can host an in-person workshop or there might be cross-team opportunities. These gatherings allow Xref employees to meet and brainstorm with one another, opening up training and working experiences for everyone involved.
Tips on Upskilling to Remain Competitive
There are several paths companies can take to build an upskilling program. Investing in learning and development software or external training programs is a great way to upskill. But did you realise there are several ways to achieve it internally?
For example, organisations could:
- Have senior employees train new hires
- Partner new hires with a mentor
- Develop knowledge transfer sessions
- Restructure teams and redistribute workloads to allow time for learning
- Create opportunities for employees to cross-train
By upskilling your employees and creating a competitive advantage for your company, it's a win-win for everyone.
1. Have Senior Employees Train New Hires
You have many senior employees who showcase the skills you desire, so why not have them train the new hires? They will share their knowledge and expertise to set them up for success from day one. Increasing the salary of an existing employee is much more cost-effective than outsourcing.
Having internal experts to train also helps build collaboration and communication. If your team is working with someone they trust, it'll go a long way in retaining the information shared.
2. Partner New Hires With a Mentor
Pair a new worker with someone to mentor them when they first start working. This can go a long way to not only helping them learn vital skills but to feel welcomed and a part of the culture. Starting a new role is often overwhelming and daunting for workers which can lead to turnover.
You can help them initiate important relationships by assigning a mentor. Additionally, the mentor will be able to identify skills gaps or strengths. This information can help you to place them within the organisation so they'll thrive.
3. Develop Knowledge Transfer Sessions
You don't want to face a crisis if one of your employees leaves suddenly. Knowledge transfer sessions allow employees to share critical information on a regular basis. These sessions will also help to upskill your team by sharing new ways of working.
Your organisation should approach knowledge transfer strategically. Focus on what knowledge is necessary for the sessions and craft your plan accordingly.
4. Restructure Teams to Redistribute Workloads
Leverage your team member's strengths and restructure teams. When you redesign how your team works, you can also redistribute workloads based on strengths.
Leaders also need to ensure workloads are distributed fairly. This is to avoid resentment or frustration among team members.
5. Create Cross-Training Opportunities
With cross-training, you educate team members on how to do several jobs. This may address existing skills gaps, but it also will help with career progression. Employees want to feel valued and like their goals matter, so support them!
Cross-train in areas they are interested in to help them prepare for promotions. Cross-training also helps to prepare for future situations where someone is needed to fill in for an absent employee.
At Xref, many of our employees have started out in a particular role and progressed throughout the organisation. They have received mentoring and training from fellow colleagues. The opportunity to see a particular role or skill in action allows our people to make informed decisions about their training opportunities.
We offer plenty of opportunities for our people to create and mould their roles. This future-proofs our company and allows our people to bring their unique set of skills and passions to the table.
Upskilling helps employees to remain relevant but also gives workplaces a competitive edge. The current competitive hiring environment and the future of work will see many businesses turn internally for new skills and experiences to grow, rather than looking to hire outside. There is no denying that the hybrid workplace can create challenges in upskilling, but with digital transformation, the hybrid work model is here to stay. With careful planning, workplaces can successfully roll out training programs for all those who want or need upskilling, regardless of their location.