It’s no secret that the last 12 months have been tough on businesses of all sizes, but it appears we’re not out of the woods yet. Initial figures suggest that over 6 million businesses could be left in a ‘precarious position’ following months of uncertainty. But there are some businesses who have weathered the storm – and have come out on top. By upskilling and even reskilling employees they’ve not only survived, but they’ve also been able to adapt their business model.
Upskilling and reskilling programs are a way to bridge gaps that arise as a result of constant change. These gaps could be because of staff shortages from furlough and redundancy, changing demands of customers, and evolving and emerging technology. In the past, companies would hire the skills that were needed, but investing in your existing workforce can you save you time and money.
The more you can work with your current staff and help them make themselves more marketable and more skilled in their sector, the more employee loyalty and productivity you’ll inspire.
Decide on formal versus informal reskilling and upskilling
Before you set off to upskill and reskill the workforce, you should think about how you’re going to go about it. Employee training can be done formally, by providing specific classes and training sessions, or informally, allowing employees to study at their own pace.
Learning new skills is one thing but being able to apply them on the job is what matters the most, therefore it’s important that you get staff input. Formal training allows you to set goals, objectives, and timelines, but it’s important to remember that not all staff learn in such a structured way.
Of course, having the right funds to provide the training is important, so you might want to consider business funding options before committing to a training programme.
Assess which employees will receive training
Before signing up all your employees, it’s important to identify those who have the passion, drive, and desire to learn new skills. Even if they have no previous knowledge of the upskilling or reskilling involved, they’re far more likely to learn these new skills – and be proud of them.
If however, you enforce all your employees to upskill or reskill, they may become disgruntled and disloyal, and this could affect moral and willingness amongst other team members.
Set goals for the process
Once you’ve decided on who you want to upskill and retrain and you’ve thought about the way in which you’ll go about it, you’ll need to think about the tangible goals you want to achieve. Understanding why you want to upskill and retrain your team will help you set these goals.
To make your goal successful – and achievable, it must be specific, measurable, aspirational, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). Setting these goals and performance indicators will help your employees understand the process too.
Allocate training time
It’s one thing to create a training programme for your employees, but if you don’t allocate enough time for them, neither you, nor they will get the results you want – or need. To make it effective, you should make training part of the work hours instead of hoping they will do it in their spare time.
Depending on the type of training needed, the staff member involved, and the nature of your business, you may find that allocating a set time for them and clearing their diary is the best approach. Alternatively, you could allow each employee to use the time given at their discretion.
Encourage employees to take charge of their development
It’s important that your employees have autonomy over their own progression. As a manager, you may have an idea of the skills you want your team to learn, but you could find that by speaking to them on an individual basis they’ll be able to tell you where they see themselves within your organization, as well as how they want to develop.
An often overlooked, yet vital part of upskilling is to allow your employees to take charge of their own development. Often, self-motivation and drive are key characteristics that will help a business thrive.
Hire with upskilling in mind
When you do come to hire new employees, it’s important to look for behavioural attributes, in particular adaptability. A person is far more willing to adapt is a good bet that they’ll be far more amenable to upskilling and reskilling.
No matter what your business or sector, reskilling and upskilling your employees can help your company prepare for the inevitability of change.