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March 10th, 2021 · 4 min read

How to upskill your employees

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What is upskilling?

Benefits of upskilling your employees

  • Decrease employee turnover. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, turnover costs U.S. businesses alone an estimated 11 billion dollars each year. Investing in employee improvement programs helps to mitigate these losses for your company and bolster both retention and your bottom line.
  • Improve employee engagement. Providing your employees with ample opportunities for upward mobility can boost morale and foster better engagement. It gives workers an outcome to strive for and gives them concrete ways to build new skills and qualify for advancement opportunities.
  • Attract qualified talent. Opportunity for growth and internal mobility is immensely important for many job seekers on the market. Advertising your upskilling programs can be an impactful part of your talent acquisition strategy. 

Effective ways to upskill your employees

Make development opportunities available and affordable to all employees 

  • Mentorship programs are a simple way to help junior employees gain valuable and time-won skills and expertise from senior staff. Plus, cross-functional mentorship allows employees to build a strong internal network and boosts knowledge-sharing between teams. 
  • Encourage self-training and independent learning by providing paid training times and making room on the schedule for education.
  • Give your employees the time and flexibility they need to participate in upskilling programs while working full-time and juggling personal responsibilities. 
  • Empower your employees to choose an upskilling program that works best for them. Every employee has a unique path to learning and upskilling and it’s important that you avoid a one-size-fits-all approach if you want to set everyone up for success.

Make learning accessible to everyone

  • Podcasts and other audio-based media
  • Traditional classes, complete with textbook or other written material
  • Videos or other visual media with comprehensive and accurate captioning 
  • Short-form seminars and lectures 
  • Real-world work simulations and role-plays

Reward growth 

  • Celebrate individual and group completions of training and certification programs.
  • Similarly, honor employees as they complete a short-term upskilling course or a longer-term program such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • Reward successful upskilling with a promotion or increased wages and responsibilities.

Foster a culture of learning 

  • Leadership should participate in mentorship programs to encourage cross-level communication and knowledge-sharing within the company.
  • Expectations around upskilling should be established at performance reviews. Have your supervisors ask employees about their continued learning. Are they applying their new and/or improved skills in their daily job? Do they feel more confident and successful in their work? What other skills do they want to integrate into their repertoire?
  • Encourage curiosity with cross-departmental training. It’s easy for employees to feel siloed within one department if they’re unfamiliar with what else is out there. Exposing your employees to all aspects of the company facilitates questions which lead to independent skill-building. 

The importance of upskilling employees

You can address talent development challenges