Employee Training

How to Reskill and Upskill Your Workforce

Jasmine Quigley
July 3, 2023
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Table of Contents

Could it be time to upskill your workforce? The fact is that 31%* of those aged 18 to 34 say that having opportunities to learn and develop new skills is one of the most important factors when deciding where to work. It’s clear that any business looking to the future needs to regard reskilling and upskilling as a critical element in attracting and retaining staff. The great thing is that this can be much more cost-effective than simply hiring specifically to fulfill skills needs on an ad hoc basis. This article sets out a plan for how to implement such initiatives effectively.

Evaluate company needs 

In order to address your skills gap, you first need to understand the learning and development challenges you’re facing. You’ll already have a lot of information at your fingertips that can help you do this.

Start by assessing the existing skills and competencies of your workforce, focusing on the areas where you think upskilling is needed. You can use a wide range of approaches here, including:

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Self-assessment questionnaires
  • Performance data analysis
  • KPI reviews

Gather information about the skills employees currently have, their proficiency levels, and any areas where they feel they need additional training or support. This will help you identify gaps and prioritize training areas.

It’s vital to consider your company's strategic goals too, particularly in the context of industry trends and advances in tech. For example, a software development company might decide that all teams need some basic training in machine learning and AI so that the business doesn’t fall behind the competition.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback directly. Managers and supervisors usually have a good feel for what’s needed in their team, since they’re very close to day-to-day operations. But all employees should be giving input at this stage.

You can hold feedback sessions to explore what skills your staff feel are needed, which learning methods they prefer, and whether there are any specific challenges they face in their roles. This will come in handy later on when you’re designing the training.

An employee completing a digital survey
Employee surveys should be accessible and simple to complete

Set clear and achievable objectives

It’s crucial to define specific and measurable objectives for your reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Be specific. Set objectives that are measurable so that you can track progress in a transparent way.

Start by setting out clearly what the target skills or competencies are and establish criteria for success in numbers. For instance, imagine you want your developers to broaden their coding skills. You could turn that into a concrete objective by aiming for everyone in that role to increase their proficiency in a specific programming language by 20% within six months.

Once you’ve decided upon your objectives, break them down into individual milestones. This allows for a phased approach and helps keep employees motivated since they can follow their progress as they go.

One word of caution: the upskilling process can take longer than you think. Even though it can be tempting, it’s important to avoid setting objectives that are too ambitious or can’t realistically be achieved within the time available. Instead, focus on achievable goals. 

Unrealistic timeframes can lead to frustration and demotivation among employees. Remember that your employees have their hands full with plenty of other work commitments, and plan accordingly.

Prioritize cross-business adaptation

It often pays to take a step back and look at how training would benefit your organization as a whole. Cross-business adaptation means encouraging workers across the entire company to develop a diverse skill set. This way, it becomes easier for them to handle multiple roles or work across different projects.

Whether this is relevant to your organization or not depends very much on the field you’re in. Obviously, if your business involves managing multiple teams with very niche skillsets that are all different, training your entire staff to do everything will not be realistic.

However, most companies can benefit from this approach to a certain extent. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is key. ERP tools are a handy solution for storing business-critical data in one central hub and keeping it updated in real time. This means they provide the necessary infrastructure and data visibility to support cross-business adaptation efforts and prevent siloing.

For example, let’s say you run a construction business. Using ERP for construction industry specialists, your company could use real-time data to train its workers on a wide range of skills that are generally relevant. It also gives employees continued access to business-wide data, which means they stay in the loop, continuing to update their knowledge and skills. 

This might include areas like project management, taking advantage of information coming from multiple sites and suppliers to give your teams hands-on experience as they learn. Other training programs you could take a similar approach to might include upskilling your staff in safety protocols, quality control, and sustainable construction practices.

The advantage of doing this is that suddenly, your workforce becomes a lot more flexible. Your employees will be more versatile, enabling them to contribute to multiple aspects of construction projects.

Implement bespoke training programs

Not all training programs are right for everyone. For one thing, people vary in terms of the kinds of learning styles they favor. Many of us have a more visual learning style than our colleagues as well, so do much better with video-based instruction.

This speaks to the need for making sure your training programs are customized to the individual worker. Consider putting in place a mixture of internal training, external courses, workshops, and seminars.

Although this may seem like a lot of effort, it’s worth doing. That’s because it’s the best way to encourage employee engagement with corporate training. When your staff see that you’re going the extra mile to make sure the training will work for them, they’re much more likely to get fully on board.

A plan showing learning is made up of something new, practice, gaining knowledge, and gaining experience
Employees need dedicated time to learn and put new skills into practice

Monitor progress and effectiveness

You’ll want to monitor progress so you can tell which parts of the training are working well, and which could do with some fine-tuning. Use performance metrics, assessments, and participant feedback to establish the impact of the training programs as they progress.

Often, you can achieve this partly by repurposing familiar metrics. For example, if you run an ecommerce business, you’ll already have a pile of sales-based data you can reference. You may be able to find evidence of progress by tracking improvements in sales conversion rates or customer satisfaction scores.

For those more intangible elements, you’ll need to create specific goals. Assuming you set out clear objectives and milestones at the beginning, then it’s just a matter of comparing how well these are being met.

Provide support

Offering support to employees throughout their reskilling and upskilling journey is essential for several reasons:

  • Increase engagement: When employees feel supported, they’re more likely to be proactive, committed, and invested in their own learning journey.
  • Build confidence: Reskilling and upskilling can be challenging, especially when you’re trying activities that are completely new and unfamiliar. Support helps employees overcome obstacles and build confidence in their abilities.
  • Help retain top talent: Receiving adequate support during reskilling contributes to the creation of a positive working environment. This means your top people are more likely to stay with the organization rather than look at opportunities elsewhere.
  • Improve chances of success: Learning new skills and adapting to change can create anxiety and resistance among employees. But as long as you put the right support in place, you can reassure your teams and make it more likely your upskilling initiative will succeed.

So what is the right way to go about providing support?

One approach is to use enterprise business management software to create and curate a centralized resource library along with other business documents. 

This could include upskilling materials, training modules, videos, and guidelines about best practices. The benefit of this kind of software is that your staff will be able to access the repository at any time that’s convenient for them. In other words, it’s wonderfully convenient.

Is there more you can do? Absolutely! You could also try a mentorship scheme. You can pair up experienced employees with those looking to upskill in their area of expertise. This creates a supportive environment where employees feel encouraged to take risks and learn.

Foster continuous learning

When you encourage continuous learning and development within your organization, it has a positive impact not only on user adoption of training, but also on the wider work culture.

By promoting ongoing education and professional development opportunities, you reassure your employees that you’re serious about investing in them. It nurtures a culture of growth and innovation which benefits both individual employees and the company as a whole.

Digital badges representing earning new skills across increasing levels
Reward employees as they gain new skills with shareable digital badges to motivate and promote continuous learning

To put this into practice, offer a variety of learning opportunities to cater to different learning styles and preferences. Think creatively and use the resources you already have as well as adding new ones.

For example, it might be possible to leverage existing talent via workshops or webinars. Alternatively, is there any possibility of introducing a job rotation program to help more of your teams gain a broader perspective of your organization?

Finally, make sure you acknowledge and reward your employees' efforts so that they continue to be motivated to learn. 

Reskilling and upskilling to get future-ready

The greatest resource any business has is its people. Attracting new talent is an ongoing challenge, but retaining the best people is just as important.

By devoting just a little time and effort to reskill and upskill your workforce, you can begin to develop a learning-first culture that brings all kinds of benefits to the table. And best of all, you’ll be making sure your organization is ready to face whatever the future brings.

Reward and engage your reskilling and upskilling team members using digital credentials. Feature-rich, portable, and shareable, digital credentials enable your teams to showcase their competencies and make it easy for training leaders to track and maintain ongoing skill development. Reach out today for a platform demo.


Further Reading

Looking to launch your own internal training? Get our free, downloadable guide Digital Credentials in Corporate Training and learn how to implement engaging employee development programs supported by secure, verifiable digital badges and digital certificates. Use the guide to identify the common challenges in corporate training, research solutions for credentialing in corporate training, and explore how to implement easy-to-manage, scalable digital credentials for your learners.

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