Invest in training to engage the workforce
Knowledge Is Power: The Benefits Of Upskilling For Employers and Employees
POST WRITTEN BY
Communications Specialist for Insperity Recruiting Services, specializing in employment branding and recruitment marketing.
In July, the U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 3.9%, continuing unchanged in August. As 201,000 jobs were added in August, the job market continues to tilt in favor of job seekers. However, with the addition of new jobs comes an increased temptation for employees to seek other opportunities in order to expand their knowledge and skill sets. This, in turn, incentivizes employers to focus on retention to avoid increased recruiting and onboarding costs. So how can employers entice workers to stay, while mitigating a widening skills gap by ensuring their training remains updated and relevant in an ever-changing marketplace? The answer lies in upskilling.
Upskilling refers to the process of teaching current employees new skills. As technology creates opportunities, employers seek to fill new jobs with candidates who possess specialized skill sets. By upskilling current employees, companies can fill open positions while retaining their current workforce by creating learning opportunities. Let’s look at some advantages of upskilling to both employers and employees.
With the job market booming, employers should make every effort to prevent employees from job hopping their way up the corporate ladder, forcing companies to backfill positions and costing thousands in recruiting expenses and lost productivity. By investing in their employees’ education and skills training, employers not only increase employees’ value to the company but also send them the message that they are worth the investment and have a place in the company’s future.
Every organization should ensure it can continue operating successfully if one of its key employees departs. This involves upskilling current employees, providing them the training, knowledge and experience to step into leadership roles if needed. Failing to do so could jeopardize a company’s operations in the event a leader leaves suddenly or unexpectedly without a qualified successor.
In a recent Gallup report, 87% of millennials prioritized professional or career growth and development opportunities in a job, while 69% of nonmillennials said the same. When upskilling becomes ingrained in a company’s culture, it naturally attracts job seekers who value learning opportunities. In addition, brand ambassadors within the company are more likely to refer friends and colleagues to open positions when they know the company will invest in their future.
With the job-hopping stigma quickly disappearing, many believe employees should change jobs every two to three years to ensure continuous learning and engagement. However, if an employer provides workers with ample opportunity for learning and growth, and employees remain engaged with their work, their time is better spent focusing on the opportunities available to them while performing a job they love, rather than searching for new opportunities and spending weeks or months applying, interviewing and onboarding.
Discover New Talents
Few people can predict their entire career path. For most, a career is a long and winding road, full of surprising twists and turns, hopefully more positive than negative. Upskilling allows employees to gain knowledge in a new arena in which they may excel. This can lead to previously undiscovered talents, passions and, eventually, career paths leading to even more opportunities.
Even if an employee loves his or her job, the future is never guaranteed. Industries change, employers are forced to downsize, jobs are replaced by artificial intelligence, etc. The best way employees can ensure their future is to increase their value to their employer by expanding their knowledge and skill set. When opportunities for promotion arise, their employer will look favorably upon their willingness to learn and take on new tasks. For those who leave the company, upskilling will only add to their resume and make them more attractive to future employers.
Taking The First Step
For employers, it’s important to let employees know what upskilling opportunities are available to them. This should be covered during onboarding or shortly thereafter. Remember that the more options that are offered, the more employees will take advantage of them. While many may be interested in upskilling, they may have different interests, choose different paths or absorb information in different ways. Employers should be sure to offer some type of incentive for those willing to expand their horizons — not all employees will view knowledge as its own reward. A recognition program or a clear path leading to opportunities for promotion will separate those interested in moving up from those simply looking for a paycheck.
For employees, the sooner they take advantage of upskilling opportunities offered by an employer, the better chance their career stands to benefit. Employees should approach their manager about a career development plan, and work with him or her on mapping out its progression, including learning and training opportunities offered by the company that will help them reach specific milestones. While it’s an employer’s responsibility to offer career growth and development opportunities, it’s an employee’s responsibility to implement them into his or her career plan, while working with his or her manager to achieve small goals in the pursuit of larger ones.
As employers and employees work together to take advantage of upskilling, both sides will benefit from a more knowledgeable workforce, the career opportunities such knowledge provides and the employee engagement resulting from increased opportunities.