How To Build A Successful Upskilling and Reskilling Program

by Gabby Davis Oct 5,2021

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

If you have been keeping your ear to the ground, upskilling and reskilling have been the buzzwords of the HR industry for a long time now. But with the pandemic changing the way everyone works, it has become a prime focus for organizations to keep the workforce agile. 

This article is a part of our two-part blog series. In our previous article, we stressed on the importance of upskilling and reskilling your employees. In this article, we will guide you on how to do so efficiently.

Career Pathing And Skill Gap Analysis

Career Path of Employees

Source: rawpixel

HR leaders and managers often end up creating complicated and disconnected upskilling and reskilling strategies for their employees. They are mostly based on business needs, and employees are rarely involved in the process. As a result, it fails to align with employees’ personal and professional goals. Ultimately, such initiatives feel forced and tend to disengage the employees.

Skill Gap Analysis helps organizations to map the skill inventory with business needs and goals. They are able to bridge the gap between the desired and current skills of the workforce and plan for the future. It helps in identifying knowledge and skills missing from the workforce. Career pathing, on the other hand, is the process by which employees chart their career progression and development within the organization. It requires a sound understanding of one’s own skills, goals, competencies, knowledge, personal characteristics, and experience.

Also Read: Giving Constructive Feedback To Peers

A proper understanding of skill gap analysis and career pathing of employees helps in designing effective upskilling and reskilling strategies. When organizations align skill training with an employee’s career path, they are more engaged and satisfied working at the organization.

Shortlist The Eligible Employees

This is one of the most difficult tasks in an upskilling and reskilling initiative. After career pathing and skill gap analysis are over, the next step involves short-listing the eligible employees. It requires thoroughly understanding the skills of each employee and asking the following questions to self as an employer:

  • Is it going to be a department/organization-wide initiative or only for a selected few?
  • Will technology changes or other factors affect any department drastically that will require employee reskilling?
  • If it is for an employee, then what impact it will have on the employee’s current team?
  • Have I identified the critical skills of the employees?
  • How to utilize the secondary and tertiary skills of the employees?
  • Do the employee’s professional goals align with the business goals?
  • Will the cost of upskilling/reskilling be more than the cost of onboarding new hires?

It will give a clear vision and a better understanding of which employees to select for reskilling and upskilling initiatives.

Choose The Method

Employee learning and training

Source: rawpixel

Once the candidates have been shortlisted, the next step involves choosing the correct method for upskilling and reskilling your employees. Here are some common ways:

1) Learning and Development: It is one of the most common upskilling and reskilling initiatives adopted by organizations.

Give your employees access to online academies such as edX, Udemy, Coursera, etc. These online learning options are easily accessible from anywhere and anytime, thus making the process more flexible. It also gives them access to a wide variety of options to learn from.

Organize skill-specific trainings, workshops, seminars, etc., for your employees by industry-recognized experts. Currently, as everything is remote, virtual platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet can be utilized to conduct these events.

Also Read: 5 Tips For Building A Learning Culture In An Organization

2) Job Shadowing and Rotation: Job shadowing is a budget-friendly reskilling process in which an employee follows the day-to-day activities of an experienced employee. The new employee or the employee who wants to be reskilled follows and observes everything the experienced employee does. It helps employees to understand the daily tasks and take up a new position easily.

Job rotations are generally time bound and require employees to work in different departments of the organization. It helps them to understand how other departments function. And also, it gives them ideas on how to improve their own department. Job rotations improve employee retention as employees get more flexibility to change roles within the organization.

3) Mentoring: According to Forbes, 70% of Fortune 500 companies have a mentoring program in place.

Mentoring is an effective way for employees to connect with the seniors of the organization. Presence of a mentor in these uncertain times will be helpful for your employees. Mentoring will not only help them develop professionally but personally too. It also helps them to connect better with the senior leadership and the organization. Invest in mentoring software such as Mentoring Complete that uses their proprietary algorithm and a 3 step matching process to find the correct mentor-mentee match.

Also Read: 4 Leadership Skills To Improve In a Hybrid Work Environment

4) Form Learning Communities: Often, employees who are at a similar level or are from the same department show interest in learning the same new skills. It is a great opportunity for organizations to create peer learning platforms. Employees with similar interests can collaborate and learn together. It will give them a common platform to share learning content, guides, study materials, industry-related news, etc. Not only will it help them learn, but will also allow them to connect with others and stay engaged.

5) Digital & Soft Skills: Although this is not a method of upskilling or reskilling your employees, focussing on digital and soft skills is vital for all organizations.

When the pandemic hit, everything became remote and employees became completely technology dependent. Consequently, it is important for employees to stay continuously updated with the changes taking place in technology. As employers, train your employees on the latest software, tools, and applications that will help them work remotely efficiently. It will especially be helpful to the older generation of employees and bridge the digital gap.

Often organizations focus too much on hard skills or technical skills and tend to ignore the soft skills. Hard skills are important, but so are soft skills. Teamwork, communication, time management, leadership, etc. are some of the common soft skills which are required by employees in the long run.

Measure Success

Just upskilling and reskilling your employees is not the end. Measuring the success of the process is as important. Set up parameters and metrics to track success. Connect with your employees from time to time, learn how they are implementing their new skills and how it is helping them in their job roles. Conduct 360 degree feedback and employee surveys involving their managers and team members. It will give an accurate view of your employee’s performance. The reskilling and upskilling programs can be iterated accordingly.

Encourage Continuous Learning 

Reskilling and upskilling is a continuous process and not a one-time process. Promote a culture of learning, growth, and development in the workplace. Employees should be enthusiastic about learning new skills and improve themselves. They should be excited about and eager to choose their own learning paths and development process. When employees are open to the process of learning, implementing reskilling and upskilling initiatives will become easy.

Want to know how Engagedly can help manage your employees better? Then request for a live demo!

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Gabby Davis

Gabby Davis is the Lead Trainer for the US Division of the Customer Experience Team. She develops and implements processes and collaterals related to the client onboarding experience and guides clients across all tiers through the initial implementation of Engagedly as well as Mentoring Complete. She is passionate about delivering stellar client experiences and ensuring high adoption rates of the Engagedly product through engaging and impactful training and onboarding.

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