A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey showed that 68% of companies invested in reskilling or upskilling to handle changes within the organization. 65% invested in training employees on new technologies. The same survey also noted that 91% of companies and 81% of employees believe that upskilling or reskilling has boosted productivity at work.
Clearly upskilling and reskilling have become topics of note for organizations. In this Astronology® we will discuss the benefits of including such training programs in your organization, and steps to consider when developing your own upskilling and / or reskilling program.
Upskilling vs Reskilling
Although thus far we’ve mentioned upskilling and reskilling combined, they are in fact two different elements in training. Reskilling is learning a new set of skills or training for an entirely new and different role. Reskilling is often attached to the goal of transitioning into a new job or even new industry. Upskilling however, is learning additional skills, or enhancing a current skillset with the goal of advancement. For example, a bank teller or retail store employee could upskill when transitioning to a management or corporate role. A truck driver who wants to become a web designer would need to reskill.
Benefits to Upskilling
Upskilling and / or reskilling employees provides the twofold reward of closing challenging skill gaps and providing new goals for employees. In fact, we’ve seen this in real-time during the current pandemic. Although there was already a burgeoning skill gap emerging, the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 heightened the demand for upskilling / reskilling.
For example, some organizations spent time training staff and configuring manufacturing spaces to create COVID-safety items such as hand sanitizer. Other organizations recognized during the nationwide request to “Work from Home” that some job positions / responsibilities could be consolidated, while other roles and tasks emerged as sorely needed. This resulted in remote crossing training staff in order to meet these new needs. There are other benefits surrounding upskilling and reskilling, including the following:
- Improves Retention Rates: Upskilling and reskilling are a cost-effective way to keep your current talent. Organizations save money by not having to spend on constantly hiring and training new staff.
- Boosts Morale: Employees respond favorably when leadership demonstrates their belief in staff by helping them to grow. New skills often mean new opportunities and mobility within the organization – great motivator!
- Promotes Adaptability and Productivity: COVID-19 taught everyone the valuable lesson of being adaptable. Upskilling / reskilling allows organizations to reinforce this lesson, giving them the ability to shift with their market. Staff also will gain a deeper understanding of their role and what their contributions mean to the organization. This results in not only a motivation to do their best, but also often leaves space for creativity and new ideas for overall organizational improvement.
- Increases Diversity and Inclusion: Since upskilling and reskilling give staff of all levels (entry-level to executive) the open ability to develop their own unique career paths within their organization, it also unlocks the door for a more diversified workforce. Upskilled and reskilled staff with diverse backgrounds and perspectives are given the ability to move into jobs they may not have had the opportunity to attain prior to training.
How to Develop an Upskilling / Reskilling Program
Naturally, upskilling and / or reskilling your talent pool will look different across industries and fiscal capabilities. Regardless, there are five fundamental steps that everyone needs to consider no matter the organization’s circumstances:
- Identify Gaps in Skills: Assess your current and future organizational goals. What will a future workforce need in your industry? Identify gaps in skill or roles needed. Examine the current structure and ask, which roles could be upskilled? You can even survey your staff population to see if there is potential for reskilling employees.
- Build a Skills Strategy: This can be developed in a variety of ways. Could your organization look into including job rotation? Could you take certain roles and expand them via job enlargement or job enrichment? Could you look into adding peer coaching?
- Make it a Part of your Culture: By promoting upskilling and reskilling as part of your organizational culture, you help the staff to buy-in to the new program. Employees will be more enthused to participate than worry about reskilling or upskilling becoming a sign of pending redundancy.
- Develop an Upskilling and / or Reskilling Plan: This plan must include carving out time for staff to delve into the new training and remain engaged. You can increase buy-in and motivation by including rewards / incentives for training completion.
- Evaluate ROI: We’ve discussed in previous Astronology® articles the need to include data metrics in Human Resources. The best way to track your ROI from investing in upskilling and / or reskilling is to monitor it via metrics. Compare your results over time. Adjust if necessary. Consider using Astron’s web-based talent management software FLARE® to track growth.
With organizations such as Amazon, AT&T, and JPMorgan Chase investing millions of dollars in upskilling and reskilling their employees in 2020, it is safe to say that the trend of upskilling / reskilling will be an ongoing one in human resources across industries. Has your organization recognized the need to train its staff? Have you decided to focus on upskilling / reskilling talent? Share your thoughts below in our comment box!