Investing in employee development and training, known as upskilling workforces, is not just a formality, but it could be crucial for a business to adapt and succeed in uncertain times.

In the past, during economic downturns, learning and development initiatives were often viewed as discretionary or non-essential expenses. However, as companies started reducing their L&D budgets and focusing on immediate needs, keeping current employees has become more vital than ever.

In this scenario, investing in upskilling workforces and employee development is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have to ensure business continuity and the ability to adapt in these challenging times — post-COVID.

What’s the importance of upskilling the workforce?

upskilling workforce

Companies invest in various forms of capital, such as technology, equipment, and facilities. However, an organization’s most crucial form of capital is human capital.

Unlike equipment or software that can be used immediately upon purchase, human capital requires time and resources to develop and train before an employee can make a full contribution to the organization’s operations and revenue.

Additionally, human capital is difficult to replace, but it is a common occurrence due to employees switching jobs frequently. According to The Balance, workers change jobs 12 times during their careers.

As a business leader, it’s clear that the quality of an organization’s workforce is crucial to its success. Therefore, attracting and retaining top talent is critical to managing any business.

However, as the cost of living increases, many employees are not only looking for salary increases to cope with financial pressures — but also reevaluating their priorities following the widespread adoption of hybrid working during the pandemic.

What was previously seen as employees leaving their jobs could now be seen as a shift in priorities — as employees seek greater flexibility and opportunities for personal and professional growth in their working lives.

This is supported by recent research, which found that 83% of employees consider developing their skills through upskilling a top priority in the workplace.

upskilling workforce
Source: Forbes

This highlights that employees see upskilling as a way to advance in their careers and attain a better balance between work and personal lives.

Employees who don’t feel valued tend to look for other job opportunities where they feel more invested. This exacerbates the already existing talent shortages in various sectors and industries.

It results in a problematic situation for businesses, as they lose valuable employees when they can’t afford to replace them, let alone make new hires. This is a big concern for companies and a problem that can’t be ignored, as it can affect the company’s performance and growth.

Investing in employee development through upskilling can help retain staff and lower turnover rates, which is crucial for managing business challenges during difficult times. Rather than cutting training budgets, companies should prioritize a people-focused approach to ensure long-term success.

How can upskilling workforces help in cutting your L&D budget?

L&D budget

According to a report from the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC), up-skilling current employees is more cost-effective than hiring new talent. The study found that the cost savings can reach as high as £50,000 per employee in the financial services industry alone.

Investing in upskilling during stressful times can help bridge the skills gap and keep employees productive, contributing to the organization’s growth. This is especially important as companies seek to increase efficiency and adapt to changing workplace pressures.

Upskilling workforces enables employees to identify new trends and opportunities and adapt to new challenges. Additionally, it makes employees feel valued and equipped to work effectively. This is vital when businesses need to do more with less, and finance is a concern.

Upskilling and reskilling programs can foster internal mobility by providing employees with career advancement opportunities, leading to a more positive company culture and improving staff retention.

This is because it makes employees feel valued and that there are opportunities for growth within the company, promoting a sense of belonging and job satisfaction.

It’s crucial to note that effective upskilling programs should not only focus on technical skills but also consider a broader range of skills, such as interpersonal and management skills.

The most successful organizations recognize the importance of a diversely skilled workforce in building a solid management structure. This holistic approach to upskilling helps develop well-rounded employees who can excel in their technical roles and effectively lead and manage teams.

A positive company culture can be fostered by developing a range of skills, including technical and soft skills such as resilience, curiosity, empathy, and communication.

When employees possess these skills, they can work effectively in teams, solve complex problems and be productive, leading to a more favorable group dynamic and better management of large teams. This will improve employee retention as teams will feel empowered and engaged.

The long-term cost benefits of upskilling your workforce

upskilling workforce

In times of budget constraints and program cuts, investing in employee development through upskilling or reskilling may seem difficult to justify.

However, it is essential to consider that investing in the development of existing employees can have a long-term impact on reducing turnover rates, which can be a significant cost for businesses.

Additionally, with the right approach, upskilling can help organizations be more efficient, adapt to new trends and increase productivity. Therefore, cutting L&D programs could be costly in the long run.

Given the increasing costs and challenges of hiring and onboarding new employees, upskilling existing staff should be considered a vital investment for the well-being of a business.

It can help reduce turnover rates, improve productivity, adapt to new trends, and enable employees to identify new opportunities and adapt to new challenges.

This is particularly important for the long-term health of a business, as developing talent from within is more cost-effective and less disruptive than constantly bringing in new talent.

In summary, upskilling has become a crucial business strategy for many organizations. As companies recognize the importance of employee development, it is being integrated into the broader business strategy.

Investing in upskilling workforces can help reduce turnover rates, improve productivity and help employees adapt to new trends.

This saves on unexpected hiring costs, helps build a strong company culture, and enables teams to grow and thrive even after economic pressures have subsided.

How can upskilling workforces boost productivity levels?

upskilling workforce

Upskilling existing staff enables them to acquire new knowledge and skills that they can utilize in their profession, whether in their present position or different roles within a company. Employers who embrace this effort will experience the following five key advantages:

Less employee turnover

Upskilling current employees can help reduce the high costs associated with employee turnover. When an employee leaves, companies are faced with the expense of replacing them, which can be significant.

The cost of replacing a salaried employee can range from 6 to 9 months of salary, and this cost increases for more educated and senior-level positions. Additionally, there is a lag time while the new employee gets fully up to speed, which can take up to two years.

Investing in upskilling workforces can improve retention rates and reduce these costs, making it a more cost-effective alternative to recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

Increased options for growth

Upskilling can help employees feel more fulfilled and less likely to leave the company. Research shows that employees want to continue learning, improve their skills and increase their value to the company.

However, many employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential. According to Gallup, 70% of employees are not working to their full potential.

By offering upskilling opportunities, employees are given a chance to develop and grow, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and empowerment. Additionally, it can help to reduce employee turnover, as boredom is one of the main reasons for leaving a job.

A boost in engagement

upskilling workforce

Providing opportunities for learning and development can improve employee engagement and increase productivity. Employee disengagement is a common problem and can significantly impact various aspects of the business, such as teamwork, quality, customer service, and revenue.

Upskilling workforces provides employees with the tools to grow and improve, and it helps them feel more invested in their job and the company. Engaged employees tend to be more productive and motivated, and this can lead to a positive impact on the bottom line.

According to a Gallup poll, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Providing learning and development opportunities can significantly improve employee engagement.

Upskilling workforces not only delivers new skills but also renewed enthusiasm and productivity. This is particularly true among millennials, with 86% stating that they would stay in their current job if offered learning and development opportunities.

This highlights the importance of investing in employee development to retain top talent and improve the organization’s overall performance.

Enhanced teamwork

Upskilling helps to preserve relationships and teamwork, which in turn improves productivity. When new employees join a company, they lack social relationships among existing employees, and establishing these connections takes time and effort.

By providing opportunities for current employees to learn and grow, you can retain the social capital that already exists in the company. This helps maintain team cohesion and productivity, as employees can rely on established relationships to work together effectively.

When new hires are brought in, they disrupt the existing relationships and teamwork, affecting productivity. Additionally, not every new hire will fit in with the current organizational culture, and if they are not a good fit, it can cause long-term disruptions to productivity.

By upskilling workforces, companies can avoid these disruptions by upskilling and preserving their social capital and teamwork, resulting in a more productive workforce.

Upskilling not only helps to retain employees but also helps to maintain the social capital within the company. When employees are trained, they gain new skills and knowledge that they can bring to their job, but the social networks and relationships that they have already established remain intact.

This allows employees to focus solely on applying their new knowledge rather than having to rebuild their social connections. This helps to maintain the integrity of the social capital, which in turn helps to improve productivity and teamwork.

Competitive edge

Upskilling workforces offers a competitive advantage by enabling organizations to retain employees, reduce hiring costs, increase employee engagement and preserve social capital.

By providing training and development opportunities, businesses can retain top talent and improve productivity, ultimately giving them an edge over their competitors.

Additionally, upskilling workforces helps to adapt to new trends, technologies, and market demands which can be crucial for the business’s long-term success.

In addition to retaining and developing current employees, upskilling can provide a competitive advantage by allowing an organization to staff new positions quickly. This can make the organization more agile and responsive to changing needs.

For example, training existing employees can fill these positions faster and more cost-effectively than recruiting and hiring new employees in industries where specialized skills are in high demand, such as cyber security or data and analytics.

This also allows organizations to have the expertise they need in-house without disrupting the organization’s social capital. This can be a significant advantage over competitors waiting months to find and hire the right candidate.

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Choose a reliable training provider for upskilling workforces in your firm

When choosing a training provider for your company, there are several factors to consider:

  • Qualifications and expertise of the faculty: The training provider should have a team of qualified and experienced instructors who are experts in their field.
  • Quality of content: The training provider should have high-quality content that is up-to-date and relevant to your industry.
  • Structure of the curriculum: The training provider should have a well-structured curriculum that is easy to follow and understand.
  • Delivery of instruction: The training provider should offer flexible delivery options, such as online or in-person instruction, to meet the needs of your employees.
  • Focus on emerging technologies: The training provider should offer training in emerging technologies such as cloud computing, cyber security, digital marketing, and data analytics.
  • ‘Alignment with professional training institutes: The curriculum should be accredited and aligned with professional training institutes to ensure that you are getting the industry’s ‘stamp of approval.’ Alignment with professional training institutes: The curriculum should be accredited and aligned with professional training institutes to ensure that you are getting the industry ‘stamp of approval.’
  • Tailored to your business needs: The training should be tailored to meet the specific needs of your business, such as project management.

By investing in upskilling workforces, organizations can proactively increase employee engagement and retention, gain employee loyalty, increase the value of their employees, grow the company’s knowledge base, and gain a competitive advantage over companies that don’t invest in employee development.

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