Upskilling your Employees and why it is Important

by Daniel Hannig - September 6, 2019

Employees do not always show engagement from the outset. The employee’s workplace needs to provide a conducive environment for this. With the necessary framework in place, a company can promote this commitment of its employees. On our blog, a wide array of topics relating to employee engagement can be found, e.g. what you should pay attention to if you want to increase your employee retention rate, or how to make friends at work and be more productive. Upskilling your employees is another factor that plays a key role in establishing and cultivating employee engagement ‒ which is also why it is one of the nine metrics we used to design our product.

Want to learn more about this topic? Download our Employee Engagement ebook

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“Once you stop improving, you stop being good”
– Philip Rosenthal

There is a relatively new, dynamic area in human resources that specializes in personal development and upskilling. It is called “Learning and Development” (L&D) and focuses on internal talent development.
The Workplace Learning Report 2019 deals with the topic of personal development and what measures are implemented by companies to ensure employees can benefit from this. The report emphasizes the constant need to further one’s competencies and skill-sets, and even replace them from time to time.

So, what lies behind this development?

More Money, More Methods

Never before have companies had such an extensive budget for upskilling employees and implementing personal development measures as they do today. The aforementioned study shows that only 27% of all respondents stated that a low budget was a problem in achieving their goals. This is an encouraging result, especially considering the fact that in 2017 companies considered budget allocation to be the biggest constraint for personal development.

The budget is not the only factor that has changed. The methodology is also new. While in the past most courses were conducted by trainers, today they can be done online. Naturally, online training will never be able to completely replace face-to-face training by a professional. But it certainly has other advantages: you can take courses wherever and whenever you want to, and learn with the help of multiple forms of media.
Numerous online training methods help talent developers combine and match their unique content to subsequently create curated learning methods, either internally or with the help of an online library. This makes it easier for employees to find the best learning materials within one integrated experience.

There are several reasons for this paradigm shift regarding budget and methodology.

1. Reduced Expenses

Many companies increasingly invest in training their employees for the simple reason that it is cheaper to train existing employees in an unfamiliar field than to hire new employees with relevant experience. Depending on the position that has to be filled, how long the position remains vacant, and how many employees are involved in the hiring process, the cost of hiring a new employee can easily equate to several thousand euros. And even then, you still run the risk of the person not being a good fit for the company.

people in presentation

2. Digital Agility

The digital age is transforming the way we work and the skill-sets required teams at work. A team with extensive tech knowledge and skills has a clear advantage and can adapt more quickly to new situations. Against this background, many (non-tech) companies from various sectors are investing in the digital upskilling of their employees.

It is evident that our work environment is changing, and along with this, the expectations of employees. For employers, this in turn means that they must make greater efforts to increase employee engagement. And this is not a bad thing, because you will reap many benefits from upskilling your employees.

Upskilling your Employees Leads to Employee Engagement

A study by Gallup shows that 87% of millennials and 69% of non-millennials indicate that opportunities for personality development and upskilling within the company are highly relevant to them. Investments in this area reflect the willingness of a company to nurture employee growth. But above all, the company that responds to employee’s needs for personal growth shows that they want to empower their employees and that their voices count in the organization.

woman holding presentation

According to the aforementioned Gallup survey, many managers believe that employees must first prove that their upskilling or training and the associated costs are worth investing in for the company. On the one hand, it is understandable and also natural for a company to expect a return on investment. On the other hand, when investing in the growth of an employee, it would seem reasonable for a company to find that the mere existence of motivation to grow should be reason enough to provide employees with said training opportunities, regardless of their age or level of experience.

A company that claims to offer opportunities for upskilling and learning, but then actively fails to follow through because of cost concerns, does ultimately not act in the interest of the business. Employees will be left with the feeling that there is no room for personal growth in their current position and will start looking for other companies that offer this possibility.

Increased Performance

Up to this point, we have focused mainly on the employee’s perspective and how upskilling your employees has a positive effect on them and their morale. However, we must not forget that this is a win-win situation for both parties. The company benefits from further training just as much as the employees, if not more. In an ideal case, upskilled employees work more effectively, with more motivation, make fewer errors and perform their tasks with a deeper understanding of the context. Even if this ideal case does not eventuate and only one of these benefits has been achieved with upskilling, hasn’t the investment already paid off?

Why not upskilling your employees is not an option

In sum, companies that have employees who are interested in further training and upskilling should encourage, stimulate and make training available accordingly. As mentioned above, this does not necessarily require expensive face-to-face training with experts. Even though face-to-face training remains the most effective method, the trend nowadays is increasingly moving towards the more practical and economical online courses. In any case, managers who promote personal development in their company communicate one thing to their employees: a sincere interest and support for their growth. This, in turn, will translate into a significant increase in employee loyalty and motivation.

Want to learn more about this topic? Download our Employee Engagement ebook

Download PDF

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