Upskilling is teaching your employees additional skills to give them, and your business, a boost.
Why is upskilling important?
The number of skills required for a single job increases by 10% every year. So if employees don’t keep upskilling, they’ll fall behind. And so will their employer.
Things now move so quickly that a third of the skills that appeared in an average job posting in 2017 are no longer required. That’s a huge number of obsolete skills in just a few years.
So it makes sense that 48% of US workers would switch to a new job that offered skills training opportunities.
And that 65% of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job. Upskilling means they get more present and future opportunities.
Upskilling is an even higher priority for millennial and gen Z workers, with 93% of them expecting employers to offer learning opportunities.
Providing upskilling opportunities for your employees will help you retain your current team members and attract new ones. It could even mean you attract better quality hires who stick around for longer.
For workers who’ve recently taken part in an upskilling program, the average salary increase is $8,000 or more. That could make a huge difference to someone’s quality of life, especially in the current economic climate.
And as AI becomes a larger part of the workplace, offering opportunities for employees to upskill or reskill will be pivotal to maintaining a positive company culture. Especially when so many people are worried AI will take their jobs.
Creative ways to upskill your employees
So, how can you upskill your employees? There are lots of options, and something for every budget:
Start a book club
Books are a great way to learn. The increased availability of ebooks and audiobooks also means that they’re more accessible than ever. With material available on nearly every subject imaginable, you can use workplace book clubs for upskilling employees on a wide array of topics.
Create internal training modules
If you’ve got a particularly complicated product, or a lot of internal knowledge you want to retain and share, internal training modules can be a great way to spread that information.
Investing in e-learning software means employees can dive in as part of their onboarding, during a set day/time, or at their own pace.
You could create these modules on anything from how to use a particular tool to company culture and everything in between.
Start an employee group
Employee groups are a simple way for team members to connect with people who have the skills they need, or for them to learn together.
They provide employees with the chance to interact with people from outside of their department and learn things they might not have otherwise had the chance to.
A robust community of employee groups can not only do wonders for your employee engagement rates, but can help with upskilling on both hard and soft skills.
Mentoring enables employees to receive one-on-one support to help them grow in a particular area. This means they get training that’s tailored to their individual situation, helping them grow faster.
This is also particularly useful for succession planning. A manager’s replacement can shadow them for a set time, for example, to help them fully understand the role and how to react in different situations.
Volunteer work allows employees to engage in upskilling while giving back to their community. There are volunteer roles for just about every skill set, so whether it’s cooking in a soup kitchen or doing admin for a charity, there’ll be something for them.
Supporting employees to give back to their community also improves your employer brand, showing the outside world that you really do care about more than just money. Which can further help you attract and retain talent.
For employees who work remotely, or long hours, volunteer work also provides them with a desk break, improving their mental health through spending time with other people and helping them.
A break from the office (whether that’s a company office or a work-from-home office) can refresh tired minds and encourage creativity.
The higher-ups at Marvel regularly do this to plan their upcoming movies and TV shows. It’s a way to disconnect from the outside world and our everyday lives, which can reduce stress and boost idea generation.
Away days are also great for cramming in lots of knowledge in a short space of time.
Employees don’t need to worry about picking children up from school and missing the end of the session, or the dog needing to go outside at an awkward time.
They have more energy to focus on learning new things, which helps them retain the information.
They can also spend time with other employees—or even people from outside of the organization—learning the same thing. This can improve loneliness, increase their sense of belonging, and lead to future career opportunities, too.
Everyone knows something we don’t. Networking is therefore a crucial way for employees to engage in upskilling.
How can you encourage networking within your organization?
Some ideas include:
- Breakfast sessions
- Lunch and learns
- Evening pizza
- Charity events (such as running a total number of hours as an organization in a month)
- Holiday gatherings
- Town hall meetings
Upskilling doesn’t have to be hugely expensive for businesses or employees. But the more businesses and employees foster a culture of learning, the more it will benefit the business and employees’ skills and mental health.
It also future proofs employees’ careers and the business itself, allowing them to adapt to the changing times.
Want to find out what your employees really want from upskilling? Workrowd makes it easy to deliver upskilling opportunities in a wide variety of formats, and track employee satisfaction.
With all your groups, programs, and events in one place, everyone can easily tap into what works for them. Plus, our automated feedback requests and real-time analytics ensure you always know what is and isn’t getting results.