Upskilling your team
Want to keep your employees? Offer them opportunities to develop and learn new skills. Upskilling is a cost-effective way to bring in competitive experience without hiring new people.
What’s the difference between skilling, upskilling, and reskilling?
Skilling: Training employees to perform their current jobs competently.
Upskilling: Helping employees advance their skills to thrive in their current roles.
Reskilling: Helping employees learn new skills to thrive in different roles.
Investing in upskilling employees
Upskilling doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require a few hours a week. This investment can pay off by reducing costly turnover and improving engagement.
Improve employee retention
If employees have more opportunities to advance their skills and grow their career, they’re more likely to stay — reducing turnover and preserving institutional knowledge.
Reduce hiring costs
Upskilling and reskilling employees lets you strategically move people around your organization to fill skills gaps. Oftentimes, this costs less than hiring external talent. It also encourages people to stay longer, further reducing costs.
Increase employee happiness
Opportunities for professional development can improve employee engagement and job satisfaction. You can also strengthen your employer brand, attracting outside talent when you need it.
Identifying skills gaps
Before you can start upskilling or reskilling your employees, you need to know their current strengths — and which skills they’ll eventually need. This can help you effectively invest your time and resources.
Make a list.
List the soft skills and technical abilities your company will need now or in the future, then survey employees and their managers about their own skills. This is an opportunity to identify reskilling opportunities.
Get leaders involved early.
Work with leaders to understand current business needs, long-term goals, and industry trends. This can help you prioritize skills and focus on the important ones first.
Define roles that may change.
Speak to managers throughout the organization about which jobs are at risk of automation, which roles are emerging, and which skills are becoming more vital or less.
You don’t need a large budget or an extensive learning and development program to advance your team’s skills. Use existing resources and talent within your organization to continually train and strengthen employees.
Share existing training resources.
If you already have training resources tailored to specific roles, open them up to the entire company. Share industry insights, webinars, and other materials to support knowledge and skills development.
Create educational guides.
Develop guides to help your company retain knowledge if someone leaves. For example, you can document how to use a particular software with screenshots and simple explanations.
Foster cross-functional teamwork.
Employees who collaborate with other teams can discover new skills and passions. If someone shows a particular interest or affinity, work with managers across departments to see if reskilling and transitioning to a new role would be beneficial.
Encourage employees to train one another.
If an employee is particularly skilled in one area, ask them to teach the rest of the team. Record these training sessions and roll them out across the organization.
Offer mentorship opportunities.
Mentorship gives employees the opportunity to learn from more seasoned coworkers. But make sure every teammate has equal access to mentors — otherwise, those with weaker networks can miss out.
Use online learning and employee engagement solutions.
Measuring the success of upskilling
Measuring your team’s success can help you improve your upskilling efforts over time and avoid wasting resources on tactics that don’t work. Measurement can also help you make a business case for more investment in upskilling.
Analyze employee retention data.
Track adoption rates.
If upskilling is optional, track how many employees participate. This can tell you if the learning material is engaging enough or if additional support is needed. It can also help you spot early adopters who may champion learning initiatives.
Have candid conversations about learning.
Encourage managers to discuss learning and development regularly and openly in their one-on-ones with direct reports. What have your teammates learned so far? Do they feel supported? Are there any other departments they want to collaborate with?