In recent years, upskilling has become a workplace trend that employers and HR managers should not underestimate. As the name suggests, this is the process of improving your employee skills and responsibilities to a new, higher level. Unlike reskilling, which involves learning new skills, upskilling primarily focuses on empowering your employees to become relevant in skills required in your workplace.
A study by Gallup estimated that the cost of replacing one employee is equal to two times the employee’s yearly salary. On the other hand, upskilling is a smaller investment compared to the cost of hiring and training new employees.
There are several reasons and benefits as to why upskilling is increasingly becoming popular in modern workplace and employment environments. Generally, upskilling impart new knowledge and skills to your employees, makes your company attractive to job seekers, and boosts employee experience. Even though upskilling programs are quite expensive, they have a strong ROI.
As mentioned, creating upskilling opportunities for your employees is cheaper than employing a new workforce. Providing free upskilling opportunities also increases retention rates, which decreases turnover and lowers hiring and onboarding costs. Other benefits of upskilling include;
- Improves employee engagement – the modern workforce prefers employments that offer opportunities for training and professional development. Providing these opportunities satisfies your employee demands.
- Optimizes employee productivity – improving your employee engagement is a recipe for increased productivity. If your employees don’t know how to operate technological installations in your company, they won’t excel in their work. That said, upskilling is very vital, especially if you recently introduced new technology.
- Better employee retention – providing upskilling opportunities reduces employee turnover significantly. Workers who feel that their employers have invested in improving their professional growth are more likely to commit. Upskilling also makes your employees happier and motivated to complete their responsibilities.
- Increases customer satisfaction – a happy workforce will automatically improve your customer experience. Employees will also use their recently acquired skills to solve customer problems efficiently.
- Keeping up with industry standards – upskilling is important if you want to remain competitive. An upskilled workforce will ensure that your organization maintains its competitive edge.
Employers and hiring managers can upskill their employees in various ways. You should choose the best method depending on the needs and skills gap in your organization. You may also combine more than one upskilling technique. These techniques include;
- Learning and Development
Learning and development is a common technique that most organizations use to upskill their workforce. However, this requires an astute learning and development strategy to be effective. Regardless of your chosen strategy, it should have four key phases. They are;
- A thorough analysis of training needs or skills gap analysis
- Specification of upskilling objectives
- Designing training method and content
- Monitoring and evaluation
Different organizations often end up with varying learning and development programs. Therefore, the learning methods chosen by a company to upskill its employees also vary. For instance, some companies may prefer online courses, others real-class lectures or seminars. Veterans can receive discounts on online courses if they need to upgrade their skills.
- Job Enlargement
Upskilling through job enlargement involves providing additional activities at the same level as the employees’ existing roles. Simply put, the upskilled employee will have more activities and responsibilities than their initial role. The main goal of job enlargement is to provide additional knowledge and skills for career growth. However, note that additional responsibilities require more training.
- Job Rotation
As the name suggests, job rotation involves shifting employees from one department to another. This is an excellent method of job redesign that transfers specific knowledge, skills, and competencies amongst your employees. However, note that job rotation is lateral and temporary. This means that it can only be done to employees in the same capacity. Employees can also come back to their initial job placement after a given period.
- Peer Coaching
You can also use peer coaching to upskill your employees. With this technique, two or more employees work together to build, refine, and expand their skill set. Like job rotation and enlargement, peer coaching will expose your employees to a wide range of skills.
The best thing about upskilling through peer coaching is its informal side. In most cases, your employees are peers who can consult directly, ask questions that arise, and learn by watching others. For instance, pairing a content creator and marketer will create mutual learning opportunities for both employees.
- Peer Mentoring
Peer mentoring has some similarities with peer coaching. However, unlike peer coaching, peer mentoring occurs when an experienced employee imparts skills and knowledge to less-experienced workers.
Upskilling is an important practice for companies that want to equip their employees with future-proof knowledge and skills. How you will handle your upskilling strategy largely depends on your specific needs as an organization. Combining one or two upskilling techniques can work best.