As society, culture, and technology evolve, working professionals need to adapt, reskill, and upskill to remain relevant and keep up with current workplace trends. A 2021 report from Gartner found that 58% of the workforce will need new skills to do their current jobs successfully. This isn’t a surprise. As far back as 2016, the World Economic Forum estimated that 65% of children entering primary school will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
Driven by technological advances, business model changes from the pandemic, and new attitudes towards work, many organizations now need to identify and train for skill gaps within their current workforces. To address this need, companies are pursuing ambitious talent agendas that involve reskilling and upskilling existing talent to support the future organization.
In addition, a lack of opportunities for advancement was one of the top reasons Americans quit their jobs last year, and 65% of workers refer to employer-provided upskilling when evaluating a potential new job. With an increase in employees seeking development opportunities, effective learning programs have become a key differentiator in a competitive talent market.
What is upskilling?
Upskilling employees means bringing the skills and expertise of your current employees up to date with emerging trends and requirements.
Benefits of upskilling employees
- Employee retention: Upskilling your employees can make them feel empowered and encouraged, which can help to discourage turnover.
- Employee engagement: When employees learn more skills, they’re likely to be motivated to put them into practice and engage with their work.
- Employee satisfaction: The opportunity to upskill can lead to higher employee fulfillment and improved performance.
- Fill skill gaps from within: It’s more cost-effective to invest in your current employees’ skills than to recruit new employees.
- Attract new talent: Become an attractive employer by offering ongoing opportunities for employee development.
- Build a competitive advantage: Strengthen your company’s position in the market by upskilling employees with relevant skills.
With these benefits in mind, here are 5 strategies to upskill your workforce in 2022:
1. Emphasize skills training in onboarding programs
New workers may come into the organization with skill gaps, so it’s important to focus on a formal onboarding program that becomes a competitive advantage. Blueline delivered an award-winning, simulation-based onboarding experience at the legendary consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. The Booz Allen employee onboarding program took the form of a branded, phased, 12-month series of events designed to help new hires learn new skills, engage with the organization, feel comfortable joining their teams, and internalize the firm’s culture and core values.
Watch this video to learn more about the Booz Allen approach to comprehensive employee onboarding.
2. Identify upskilling needs
Most employees can benefit from some form of upskilling, but to see the highest return on your investment, you’ll need to identify priority areas and skills based on your company’s goals and vision, as well as your employees’ personal growth objectives. Blueline’s Voice of the Business process mines insights from inside the business, allowing you to gain a clear picture of where employees feel under-skilled and how you can best support them.
3. Train for people leadership skills
Remember that upskilling doesn’t only involve learning new technical or process-based skills. In the new hybrid workplace, specialized interpersonal skills are in high demand. The pandemic also brought employees’ mental wellbeing to the forefront, which means that training for empathy has taken on a new level of meaning and priority. People skills like empathy, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving apply to almost any job, so it’s important to equip leaders and individual contributors with the people skills they need to succeed in the workforce.
4. Make learning enjoyable
There’s a proven link between employee engagement and knowledge retention, which is why any upskilling program should be an enjoyable experience for the learner. This is where good learning design comes into play. Instead of subjecting learners to passively observing PowerPoint-based presentations, learning experiences should be immersive and engaging. Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform provides an interactive environment for teams of learners to collaborate and engage in discovery-learning experiences that enhance skill acquisition and application.
5. Prioritize hybrid learning for the hybrid workforce
Today’s workforce has become increasingly geographically dispersed, with plenty of organizations announcing a switch to a permanent hybrid or remote model. When it comes to delivering upskilling training, organizations need to cater fairly to those who are unable or prefer not to be on-site. To avoid proximity bias and promote inclusivity, it’s essential to use online and hybrid learning platforms that transcend delivery mode for your upskilling training.
An example of an upskilling strategy in action
One of our clients was faced with the challenge of having very few people who could access, manipulate, and analyze all of the data owned by the organization. We partnered with the company to elevate its organizational performance and distinguish itself from the competition by democratizing the use of data at all levels. This involved upskilling all employees by advancing their data skills so that they would be empowered to use data to their advantage.
To upskill the workforce with data analytics skills, we created several simulations that modeled the data sets and questions employees should be able to access and answer independently. Designed and delivered through Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital platform, each simulation was made up of progressively more challenging scenarios carefully crafted to develop employees’ skills and confidence to use data and analytics to respond to business questions.
Change is the only constant
To remain competitive in this fast-paced marketplace, your organization needs to be equipped to adapt to rapid change. Upskilling is essential amid the modern business world’s ever-changing processes, technologies, and organizational goals. The pressure to constantly learn new skills can be overwhelming for both employer and employee, which is why organizations choose to partner with Blueline. Contact us to learn more about how we can create and implement an upskilling program to create a competitive advantage for your business.