It’s important in business that companies and organizations don’t stand still. That inertia is what can allow the competition to catch up, and the bigger a business is the more important it is to outperform its rivals. But, the temptation for many leadership teams is to say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, as they wish to avoid the risk of making changes for the sake of it and slowing their momentum.
As always, nothing is ever black and white when the fate of an organisation is at stake but as a rule, companies should be making moves to continually improve their infrastructure. From future-proofing to changing market demands, what works now isn’t guaranteed to be as essential in a few years from now, let alone a decade or two.
Whether you feel like you are behind your competitors in digital transformation, have noticed efficiency on a downward trajectory or your processes are becoming outdated, your workforce will need refreshing. With that in mind, let’s look at the ways companies can upskill their workforces as part of their business development strategy.
Skilling and upskilling should be seen as business investments
Many shareholders may look at the cost of training their staff and view it as an expense they can do without. Certainly, training is costly, but if companies can switch their perspective to view it as an investment, they can begin to own their learning and development capabilities.
Rather than sprinkling learning opportunities here and there as your industry dictates, a constant approach to training is required for establishing a learning culture within your organization. Training and bringing new skills to the workforce should be a longer-term investment that will yield results over several years rather than a quick fix.
When it comes to the skills an employee or team has there, should be no end to their learning – whether that is to sharpen their existing skills or to add new strings to their bow, individuals and departments thrive. According to research by Deloitte, companies that adopt a continuous learning approach are 46% more likely to be first to market and 92% more likely to innovate.
While upskilling is a great way to close the skills gap in your company, regularly readdressing and refining those new working methods and abilities ensures that the initial training is worthwhile. Those skills will be retained and staff will be less likely to regress to their previous methodology.
Apply your latest knowledge
Similar to retaining the skills that workers learn, there must be a mechanism within a company’s operations to adopt the latest knowledge, skills and methods learned by staff. Facilitate those new skills and allow staff the opportunity to put their new knowledge into practice.
Failing to successfully onboard these new skills and methods is a waste of the initial investment, but it can take time. Not only will a company need to invest in the training, but also make a considered effort to alter its infrastructure to welcome and embrace change. Flexibility often comes at a cost; just try booking an open-ended airline ticket!
Additionally, technology continues to improve, and integrating new hardware or machinery into your operations can maximize productivity. New tech can streamline processes and procedures but staff must be competently trained to utilize it.
Make learning fun
The temptation for some can be to find an e-learning tutorial and sign their staff up to watch a passive series of videos. This approach might help some but studies have found that learning is more effective when it is engaging. Just like when we were in school, the more engaged a person is in learning through practical examples, discussions and feedback, the more likely they are to enjoy it.
If you want your staff to put the skills they are learning into practice then effective and engaging training is essential to put it into context. Active learning improves critical thinking skills, increases retention and transfer of new information, increases motivation and improves interpersonal skills.
Leaders benefit from enhancing their skills too
Leadership is a critical area of a business’ performance and is often the difference between success and failure, whether that’s during a particular campaign or the company’s wider fortunes.
As such, leaders should set an example to all staff by investing in their own training and upskilling. Working with an executive coach can help leaders better develop their strategy and planning, improving their accountability while enhancing their understanding of business stewardship and human capital management.
What are the benefits of regularly upskilling staff?
Companies looking to upskill their staff benefit in a variety of ways. Not only does it make their workforce smarter, modern, and more versatile it can also change how staff members feel about and within their job roles.
Improved retention rates
People bored with their work are more likely to leave, so by offering new strings to their bow, companies can help improve retention. That sense of progression is what can make a difference in how an employee feels about their job and career.
Feeling like they are stagnating because they haven’t received training or learned anything new in months, or years, can lead staff to look elsewhere. When someone feels like they can continue to progress in the role they are in they are less likely to seek pastures new.
Having belief and showing faith in your staff can give them a renewed sense of purpose. For example, an underperforming member of staff may be demotivated due to a stagnant role but with new skills under their belt, they will feel more engaged.
Attracting better staff
With a track record of backing and training your staff to improve themselves, your company will become more attractive to those outside. People dissatisfied with their current company’s lack of ambition may seek you out provided you learn to share your successes with the world.
From sharing social media posts and blogs on your website about training initiatives to including them in job adverts, the more you can celebrate your upskilling culture the better. By setting such a benchmark, you can attract top-level talent, improve existing staff and drive your business forward.
Improved productivity and morale through upskilling
Ultimately, the goal of training is to improve the staff already within a company and it is an effective method to make a positive impact on the inner workings of a business. Employees who are confident in themselves and what they’re doing through learned skills will undertake a higher standard of work.
This produces better results and improves efficiency as tasks are completed faster and with a higher success rate – reducing time lost having to repeat or redo poor work. As more staff embark on their upskilling journeys, the company morale as a whole will improve, leading to a happier and more engaged workforce.
Positive work cultures matter as staff are more likely to go above and beyond to help their teammates while absenteeism rates through sickness will reduce. Happier staff are more creative and offer better analytical skills, helping solve problems more efficiently.