Upskilling offers countless benefits for businesses in a whole host of industries, from finance and marketing to skilled trades, cybersecurity and tech. But it’s not just improving skills within the business that upskilling can help with – it can also be an advantage to the individuals in question by improving motivation, enhancing company culture and boosting confidence. 

Here, we examine what upskilling is, who can benefit and the advantages it can offer your team. 

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of developing existing skills and enhancing that skillset with additional, complementary skills and qualifications to build your expertise and knowledge. It’s beneficial to both the employee and the employer, ensuring that businesses have the right skills in the workplace and also improving career prospects for individuals through training and development. 

For example, an employee may be promoted within the company to a managerial position and while they have the knowledge of the company culture and how internal processes work, they may lack broader managerial skills if this is their first management position. Upskilling here would provide them with training and knowledge of how to be more efficient in their job and provide skills that will benefit the business. 

Most industries can benefit from upskilling, since there may be skill gaps in the industry or a shortage of qualified individuals for vacancies. There’s a vast shortage of skilled electricians, for example, that has been exacerbated by qualified people retiring from the industry and not being replaced, and an increase in devices, buildings and vehicles which rely on electricity. For those already working as an electrician, there are huge opportunities to upskill and specialise to gain more senior roles and higher salaries. 

Similarly, as more businesses adopt new digital ways of working and HR departments master how to respond to new technologies, there are ongoing opportunities to upskill staff. Companies need to keep apace in how to utilise tech more effectively to grow the business and stay current, particularly in industries such as finance which are notorious for lagging in talent development. 

upskilling can help

Photo by Claire Nakkachi on Unsplash

Develop confident teams

One of the primary benefits to employees is that upskilling can help to boost confidence and develop stronger, more capable teams in the business. When you have the necessary skills to not only do your job effectively but grow and build on that knowledge, it’s a huge confidence booster. Upskilling and having relevant training increases self-esteem and helps people feel able to take a proactive approach to their work and identify solutions quicker. And, well-supported employees feel more valued, which is hugely beneficial to your business as a whole. When your staff are confident, they’re more likely to speak up, innovate and express ideas and opinions which helps your business move in a positive direction. 

Boost engagement and retention

It’s a known fact that if employees don’t feel like there are any opportunities for progression within a company, they’ll move on to a different role elsewhere. So, if you want to retain your staff for as long as possible, you need to provide training and development programmes that offer progression and continual learning. When you upskill employees, you’re retaining staff and staying one step ahead of your competition, as well as boosting engagement and motivation within the team which goes hand in hand with productivity. 

Create a sense of belonging

It’s important that your employees feel a sense of belonging, that they feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work and part of a team dynamic. But when staff are neglected and their training and development needs are ignored, it can have a negative impact on their ability to feel like a valued member of the business. It can leave people feeling disconnected from their work when they notice that their employer isn’t willing to invest in them or their progression, and that can impact productivity in the long-term. Show that you value your team, that they are appreciated and a necessary element of the business, by investing in their training and skills. 

Motivate top talent

By providing the chance for gifted employees to build on their expertise and talents, you increase the chance of retaining their loyalty and they’re far more likely to stay with the company for longer. Upskilling enables you to not only have a stronger, more expert team but it also keeps these employees away from your competitors. In upskilling top talent, you are building managers and leaders of the future, making it a worthwhile investment in your business and its long-term success. 

How to upskill your employees

Upskilling can take various forms, depending on the skills you’re trying to build and the way in which your business operates. It’s all about finding solutions that work for your business, with the ultimate goal of staying ahead of the industry’s demands and ahead of your competition. 

Make training accessible for everyone

Training needs to be accessible in order for staff to feel as though they’re able to gain the same opportunities as everyone else. Whether that’s group training, online learning that can be carried out remotely or a mixture of the two, make sure that the training and development options work for everyone. This not only makes training accessible but it also ensures that no matter what learning style someone has, they’re not excluded from progressing and building their skillset. 

Empower employees to make choices

Put your staff in charge of their own development by enabling them to make decisions over where they see their career going, the skills they feel they’d benefit from learning and how they’d like that training to take place. In doing so, staff have greater ownership over their development and this can motivate them further and encourage confidence. 

Reward growth and effort

Finally, reward those in your team willing to push themselves to learn more. When an employee is motivated to do more and strive for better in their career, it’s something to be celebrated. Positive recognition contributes to a happier and more engaged workforce, so don’t forget incentives when it comes to completing development training to reinforce the value and how much the business appreciates its staff.