7 essential benefits of upskilling your employees
The benefits of upskilling employees go way beyond the obvious. As we broke down in our 2022 Deskless Report, skills development is lacking in frontline roles, and this creates a major missed opportunity for managers looking to strengthen their teams and their organizations. The following are some of the key benefits of upskilling that shouldn’t be overlooked.
1. Improved job proficiency
Upskilling is all about providing training that allows employees to be more knowledgeable and effective in their existing roles. It’s a gradual process that enables you to address skills gaps and develop more versatile team members. Upskilling is similar to reskilling, but it involves expanding a person’s existing technical skills rather than introducing a whole new skillset.
For instance, a retail business might upskill its associates by training them to provide effective omnichannel retail experiences. So whereas the associates once focused on face-to-face transactions, they can now accommodate customer interactions through multiple channels, such as “shop online, pick up in store” transactions. They’re essentially doing the same job they were hired for, but they’re now more versatile and more proficient.
2. Improved performance
Upskilling is often ideal for employees struggling with performance issues, as the problem can sometimes come down to lack of knowledge or preparedness. Upskilling requires employees to brush up on what they’ve already learned while also expanding upon that knowledge, and this can inspire breakthroughs in employees who are underperforming.
As you make upskilling an active part of your employee training routine, you should notice general performance improvements in all employees, and not just those who aren’t meeting expectations.
3. A more agile workforce
Upskilling equips employees to handle more types of tasks with greater proficiency. As a result, you build a more agile workforce that’s prepared to weather the challenges associated with employee turnover, labor shortages and unforeseen absences.
Ideally, as your existing employees become more proficient, you can shift them between similar job roles with short notice. For instance, a grocery cashier can oversee the self-checkout customers if a co-worker suddenly calls in sick.
4. Improved confidence
Employees should become more confident in their abilities as they learn new skills and sharpen their existing ones since it leaves them better equipped to make important split-second decisions without second-guessing themselves. This way, they’re able to provide excellent customer service experiences and also grow within the organization.
Confident employees are also more open to reskilling and cross-training opportunities. They see the value in their own personal and professional development and are less apprehensive about taking the leap into uncharted waters.
5. Greater employee satisfaction
Research shows that employees value learning and development and that 65% of prospective employees look for upskilling opportunities in a job. So it’s not a matter of pushing employees towards professional development—they actually want it!
By incorporating upskilling into a continuous training process, you can satisfy the learning needs of employees and help to promote a happier, more engaged workforce with fewer skill gaps.
6. Greater retention
When your employees are more knowledgeable, more confident, better performing and more engaged, you’re far less likely to lose them either through resignation or termination. You’re making a commitment to their personal growth and equipping them to do their best—the payoff here can be enormous.
In addition, increased retention translates to lower recruitment costs. And when you consider that replacing an employee can cost up to twice the employee’s annual salary, this is a significant victory.
7. Growth potential
Upskilling provides a foundation for long-term growth. You can feel good about promoting from within because you’ve invested considerable time in developing and sharpening your employees’ skills.
Once they know the job inside and out and are prepared to oversee it, they can even help develop the same types of skills in newer employees.
How to develop skilled employees
We’ve focused on the “why” of employee upskilling, but it’s equally important to address the “how” component. After all, most employers would love to upskill their teams, but not everyone has the time or resources.
The key is to incorporate upskilling into the flow of work. Make it part of your general training program, and make the training continuous. Rather than subjecting employees to hours of monotonous training, use a mobile-friendly learning management system that supports microlearning—delivering lessons in under 10 minutes per day.
When choosing a training solution for your upskilling needs, just make sure that it:
- Is accessible on the devices your current employees already use
- Incorporates microlearning for lessons that are short and impactful
- Provides a personalized learning experienced for each user
- Offers an engaging format that keeps users returning day after day (gamification is a great way to engage employees, as is social learning)
The benefits of upskilling are well-known and, importantly, within the reach of any organization. Start upskilling your team, and get more from your training.