Effective ways to upskill and reskill your employees
Close your organisation’s tech skills gap by upskilling and reskilling your existing staff
The war for tech talent has never been greater, as businesses across the country are struggling to recruit and retain their IT staff. Research from AND Digital reported 81% of UK managing directors say a lack of digital skills is negatively affecting their company. Simply put: when companies don’t have the tech talent they need, their growth is stifled and it takes them longer to achieve their goals.
While many companies are struggling to recruit new talent, the solution may be right under your nose. Why spend months searching for prospects in a shrinking talent pool when you could upskill and reskill your existing staff?
What’s the difference between upskilling and reskilling?
- Upskilling your employees means making them better at what they do
- Reskilling your employees means training them for a new position
Underpinning both approaches is the drive for your staff to make the most of their careers – encouraging them to adopt new approaches to work (or new responsibilities entirely) so they can achieve their results better.
What can you do to upskill and reskill your employees?
Upskilling and reskilling are not simply matters of wheeling out training sessions and reassessing job descriptions. You need to look at your organisation as a whole and think critically:
- Are we approaching tasks in the best way possible?
- Are we making the most of the talent we have available?
- How can we approach work more efficiently and effectively?
Once you start asking these questions, opportunities for your employees grow out of natural ways you need to improve your business and achieve your goals. Here are the key initiatives that can make a difference to your organisation and how you approach upskilling/reskilling your staff.
Provide mentors and coaches
One of the clearest ways to provide more opportunities for your employees to grow their skills is to set up a mentoring program or establish internal career coaches. When staff are trying to upskill themselves or tackle new subject matter, you must remember that they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. Establishing someone (or a team of people) as a go-to resource so your staff can learn with confidence and ask questions in a supportive environment is invaluable.
At Ten10, we have established career coaches who support people throughout our organisation. Once Academy Consultants complete their core technical training, they work with their career coaches to continue growing their skills – whether that’s through certification in a new tool or technology, or simply adjusting to being part of a new team and adopting new responsibilities.
Invest in new tools and technology
Nobody knows the ins and outs of your industry better than the people who work on the frontlines every day. That means investing in new tools and technology is a chance for them to kickstart their upskilling journey. Empower your staff to approach you with solutions, rather than just problems, and to suggest the tech that will improve their work. This ownership can be the catalyst for an employee to upskill themselves to become a subject matter expert in your team or reskill themselves entirely as they explore the wider applications of technology in your business.
Identify automation opportunities
Automation should be a priority when researching new technology. Automation has the power to revolutionise how you approach tasks as big as fulfilling nationwide supply chains or as small as changing a customer’s profile information. But your staff may have questions about utilising automation – there persists an idea that staff will be ‘automated away’ and be out of a job, replaced by a bot.
In reality, you should identify opportunities for your staff to utilise attended automation to improve how they complete their work and find employees with an interest in learning more about it. Bots can be programmed to work as automated assistants that complete time-consuming tasks for your employees, freeing them up to complete strategic, creative, and collaborative work. Selling these benefits and emphasising that utilising automation means your staff can grow their skills in a new area and improve their results will help them understand how the technology is an opportunity, not a threat.
Grow a culture of continuous development
Ultimately, upskilling and reskilling should not be an ‘initiative’. It should grow into a company-wide culture of continuous development. That means:
- Championing people who upskill or reskill themselves so other people are encouraged to do the same.
- Sharing knowledge and tools between teams so all staff can find creative solutions to their tasks.
- Never assuming someone’s knowledge and providing a safe environment for people to ask questions when they are curious about something (especially for people adopting technology into their roles for the first time).
- Providing forums and opportunities for staff to suggest new ideas to problems your business regularly faces.
We’ve grown such a culture ourselves, by hosting Lunch and Learn sessions across our business, regularly canvassing staff ideas for new solutions, sharing career transformation stories, and growing our combined internal knowledge into our Tenology® approach that every consultant can utilise and learn from.
The benefits of upskilling and reskilling
Increased job satisfaction and staff retention
When employees are given opportunities to learn and develop new skills, they are more likely to feel valued and engaged in their work, leading to higher job satisfaction. As employees gain new knowledge and abilities, they also become more confident in their ability to handle new challenges. By providing growth opportunities, you demonstrate a commitment to your employees’ professional development, building loyalty and reducing turnover rates.
Retention of subject matter experts
The product knowledge your staff amasses over time is irreplaceable. When a truly established subject matter expert leaves your organisation, you may be able to find someone with comparable technical skills but it will take them years for them to gain the historic familiarity of your lost talent. And it’s no surprise that SMEs look to move on when a massive 58% of knowledge workers have never received digital upskilling from their employer.
When you prioritise upskilling and reskilling your staff, your SMEs are encouraged to combine their knowledge with technology in new ways and grow their responsibilities organically. They likely already have workarounds and manual processes they use in their day-to-day work, meaning they know where automation can be applied to achieve quick wins.
Improved customer experience
You won’t only feel the benefits of upskilling and reskilling your employees internally – when your staff are fulfilled and empowered to make the most of their roles in your business, your customer experience will improve. Staff that upskill themselves become better at their roles, leading to faster issue resolution and replies to queries. Staff that reskill into new positions in your business frequently bring new ideas based on their customer interactions, meaning you can prioritise new features or services that your customers have been requesting.
Attracting new talent becomes easier
Upskilling and reskilling your employees is all about making the most of the people already part of your organisation. But when you provide these opportunities and promote your staff’s progression publicly (through your website and social media channels), you also make recruiting new employees easier. What prospect doesn’t want to join a business that supports and encourages them to pursue professional development?