Business success is based on how well you can execute your strategies and plans to obtain your end goals. In order to ensure the successful execution of ideas, you need the right team. As the world goes deeper into the digital age, there will be a set of skills your current workforce lacks. It goes without saying that you cannot allow that gap between what an employee can do and what they need to do to grow too wide.
Some bosses think the solution is to hire fresh talent, as newer members of the workforce possess the latest business skills and know-how. However, this approach would result in a team of inexperienced employees, and a lack of leaders, and would send the message you’re willing to let go of long-time workers, which could increase employee turnover. Instead, you must think about how you can upskill your current employees, and this guide will show you how to do that.
Allow accessibility to learning tools
If the biggest hindrance in the knowledge base of your current team members is the fact that they are not informed about the latest trends and technology, then you should give them the tools to educate themselves. This can be done in various ways. For example, you could provide access to educational videos or podcasts that can comprehensively explain the requisite information to the employee. You could invite professors and industry leaders to speak at seminars and give short lectures that could inspire the workforce.
If you have an employee keen to gain a formal education in a particular subject, let’s accounting, give them the chance to do so without worrying about their job. There are several MBA in accounting programs online that allow professionals to update their credentials flexibly. Whether you let the employee work part-time during their education or promise them a job when they come back, you would have won a person’s loyalty who significantly increased their skillset. Each person learns differently, so you might have to adapt the approach according to your employees, but the best thing you can do for your employees and your company is to give them the room to learn.
Incentivize upskill programs
The simple truth is that not everyone will be keen to learn and better themselves, and you would need to motivate them to pick up new skills. If you have an experienced worker who has been in the industry for decades, they might feel like they’ve earned their place and don’t need any new skills. Before you resort to the stick (the threat of firing them), it’s better to use the carrot. Have development plans that directly offer benefits to employees who engage in these upskill programs.
The most obvious reward for attaining new skills is the chance to get a promotion or raise at work. You can also introduce these development programs into the metrics of your workers and give them bonus points in their regular performance reviews. At the same time, you must ensure leaders and managers within your organization are aware of the importance of these programs, so they can allow the employee the time and space they need to learn these new skills. If self-learning is particularly important for your work culture, you could even offer employees paid slots during their workday that must be used in upskilling. Remember, the upskilling program is a business investment, not an expense.
Use data to define goals
In today’s aggressive market, you need to stay ahead of the competition, and one indispensable tool on your side is the power of big data. The analytical tools can easily be used to optimize the breakdown of your raw data into useful reports used in predicting market trends and identifying shortcomings within your operation. Speaking about the former gives you the chance to recognize which specific skillsets will be needed by your employees in the future and begin training them now.
On the latter point, you will be able to understand where certain employees are struggling and offer them a more bespoke learning experience. For example, you might have someone in the marketing department who understands social media trends but is not well-versed in graphic design and cannot make posts properly. You would be able to offer him a course or put him in touch with someone adept in software like Canva or Photoshop.
Utilize stretch assignments more
The saying goes that a lump of coal only turns into a diamond under pressure. Similarly, some people learn best when placed into a testing situation. A tactic used by some businesses is a stretch assignment, which is a task or job outside the employee’s field of expertise. In simple terms, you are forcing the worker out of their comfort zone, so they need to pick up new skills to adapt to the job at hand. This could be something as simple as delegating a leadership role to a junior employee or having someone work in a vastly different department temporarily. This would place the employee in a position to utilize their creativity and think on their feet and learn rapidly to ensure the successful completion of the job.
However, you must ensure the employee has the right resources and support during the stretch assignment. This is similar to preparing a student for a test; you need to ensure they have the books and lectures needed to answer the questions they’ll face.
With the right training and development initiatives, you can upskill your workforce to be better equipped for the changing challenges of the business world. Moreover, by upskilling your current workforce instead of relying on fresh talent, you will decrease employee turnover and attract more qualified talent by showcasing yourself as a business that displays loyalty to its employees. According to one estimate, the cost of replacing an employee is one-third of that employee’s salary, so this is indeed a worthwhile investment. And as is the case with any investment, you should have specific goals and timelines to ensure you get the returns you are looking for.