Today, upward career mobility is a top priority for modern employees, and upskilling is an excellent way to make it happen. Having a thorough and deliberate upskilling program in your workplace that empowers your employees and elevates their professional worth is crucial in any growing organization.
An ideal upskilling program should be in-depth, objective, and customizable to suit different employees. It should cut across the skill spectrum, focusing on everyday office skills such as communication skills and more niched skills like data interpretation.
How to Upskill Employees?
Upskilling employees is a valuable investment for any business looking to enhance its talent pool and increase productivity. Here are some steps businesses can take to upskill their employees for the changing business environment.
1. Assess Skill Gaps and Priority Areas
Identifying specific skills your company needs now and in the future should be your first course of action. First, conduct a detailed skill gap analysis to angle your upskilling program toward satisfying those individual skill requirements. To complete a skill assessment effectively, you should assess both your current and future needs.
To identify your employees’ current skill gaps, do the following:
- Review your key performance indicators (KPIs): KPIs help you track your company’s progress and performance in priority areas. Assessing individual KPIs is an indicator of how well employees are performing in their assigned roles, helping you identify skills that might be lacking.
- Organize skill-mapping workshops: You can hold these workshops in-house (and have your department managers lead them) or partner with learning institutions, talent recruiters, and other relevant associates.
- Leverage 360-degree reviews: Collect feedback on employee performance from managers, peers, clients, and responsive vendors. Typically, you create employee surveys and request these stakeholders to participate.
To identify the future skills your workforce will need, follow these techniques:
- Analyze workforce data: Pull industry-specific data from professional recruitment networks and analyze the new skills they’re searching for. Job boards are a good source of unique workforce data because they draw from multiple employers worldwide.
- Observe industry trends: By observing and predicting disruptive trends in your industry, you can foretell what new skills will be required to run operations in the future.
- Source insights from industry leaders: Consult your industry’s opinion leaders about future trends and insights.
Conducting a skill gap analysis enables your upskilling program to better cater to your current and future skill needs. A skills gap analysis also helps you pinpoint which areas to channel more training resources into.
2. Create Employee Personal Development Plans
As a manager or business owner, you should know your employees’ short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Find out what skills each employee is most interested in learning and how they envision their career progression within your company.
The best way of gathering this information is by creating employee development plans. As the manager, one of your biggest roles is ensuring your employees’ professional goals align with your company’s goals.
Employee development plans give you insight into an employee’s career expectations. This way, you can allocate the right training resources to the right employees. Also, you can give your employees better feedback and empower them to set professional goals with a higher chance of success within your company.
3. Set Aside Time for Learning
You should approach your upskilling program with a collaborative win-win mindset. With this approach, you should allot sufficient learning time to your employees within work hours.
Creating dedicated learning time allows your employees to fully immerse themselves in upskilling and advance their skills without sacrificing too much of their personal time.
Besides allocating time for upskilling, leverage mobile learning techniques to make upskilling easier and more engaging for your employees. Your business will directly benefit from upskilling once an employee masters a gainful skill and puts it into practice.
4. Connect Employees to a Mentor
Ultimately, learned skills can only be perfected through real-life experiences. Including workplace coaching and mentoring in your upskilling program ensures employees apply their newfound skills successfully.
All too often, learning new skills and applying them to real-world situations comes with a steep learning curve, and employees might make mistakes. In this case, more experienced employees can offer guidance and help newly-trained employees avoid costly mistakes.
Mentored employees have more opportunities to polish their skills, grow their networks, and bring more value to the company. Better yet, you can supplement your in-house mentoring program by leveraging mentoring platforms such as ADPList and Mentoring Complete.
5. Create a Post-Training Plan
When one team member attends an upskilling program your company has sponsored, the skills acquired should benefit the entire team. As a result, it’s a good idea to set up a post-training engagement where the trained employee shares their newfound knowledge with the rest of the group.
A post-training program ensures you get a good long-term return on investment because it establishes a clear path of knowledge transfer within your company. This way, even if the trained employee gets better job offers and leaves your company, you’ll still benefit from the upskilling investment.
Additionally, a post-training program helps newly-trained employee better comprehend their acquired skills. For instance, if the employee attends a coding boot camp, sharing what they’ve learned with other team members will allow them to practice their coding skills, making them much better coders.
To make knowledge transfer more effective, let the employees attending training know that they’ll be teaching their peers after the training is complete. Encourage them to take notes too. It makes them extra focused and stimulates them to approach the training program with a learner’s and mentor’s mindset.
6. Match Your Employees to Real-Life Opportunities
You might lose your investment in your employees if you don’t support their career advancement. An employee that’s learned new skills but doesn’t have use for them in their current job could be easily poached by your competitors. That’s why you should ensure that upskilled employees receive assignments allowing them to practice and develop their new skills.
For instance, if an IT staffer completed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software training, you can have your CRM manager assign them roles befitting their new skills. The employee could collaborate with your customer service team to help them navigate the technical aspects of CRM tools, like pooling and analyzing customer data while retaining their duties in IT.
Make Your Upskilling Program Mutually Beneficial
You and your employees are after the same thing — progress. You want to grow your business while your employees want career progression.
Because an upskilling program directly benefits you and your workforce, it pays to put extra effort into getting it right. Thankfully, these six tips will help you make the right investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What do upskilling employees mean?
Ans. Upskilling employees refers to the process of helping employees to expand their knowledge by providing them with the required resources. Employers can do this by providing them access to various courses and education programs.
Q2. What are the benefits of upskilling employees?
Ans. Some of the benefits of upskilling employees include:
- Improves retention
- Increases customer satisfaction
- Boosts morale
- Attracts new talent
Q3. How are upskilling employees beneficial to employers?
Ans. Employers and employees are mutually beneficial through this process, as it helps to grow employers’ businesses and employees can learn new skills required for career progression.
This article is written by Eva Chan.
Eva Chan is a Career Counselor and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) at Resume Genius, and has a background in the education management industry. Eva graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in English. She’s since coached several professionals in building their resumes and finding fulfilling work.