How to Upskill and Reskill Employees

Employees participate in upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

Most employers upskill and reskill their employees because it provides a greater return on investment and helps them address skills gaps without having to hire new people, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It also ensures that your employees and organization can evolve alongside a changing business landscape. This approach is especially useful with the rapid expansion of technology-led business approaches, such as artificial intelligence and automation.

Here’s how to create professional development initiatives that help your employees gain the skills and experience you need to make your business more successful. This way, you can prepare your workforce for whatever changes come your way while minimizing employee turnover.

What Are Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling is the process of upgrading a current employee’s skills to meet your business and market needs. For example, perhaps your company helps small businesses leverage new technology to grow their business. Your employees need to be consistently trained on new programs and keep up with the changing industry so that your business can remain competitive. So, instead of hiring new employees who have the necessary skills every time there’s a major shift, you can use your upskilling strategy to train current employees how to adapt to these new technologies and processes.

Reskilling, on the other hand, refers to the process of teaching your employees new skills when they will be performing an entirely different job function. For example, perhaps you have an employee in your finance department who wants to transition to your marketing team, where there’s an open position. When employees transition into a new role or move into a different department, you need to provide them with the proper training so they can step into an unfamiliar environment and help your company rise to new demands.

How Do You Upskill and Reskill Your Employees?

As you can see, though upskilling and reskilling might sound formal, they’re simply terms that focus on how your employees can have the knowledge necessary to perform their role in a way that meets your company and market needs. Whether you decide to upskill or reskill your employees, the steps are essentially the same. Here’s what to do.

1. Identify skill gaps within your organization

To begin your upskilling or reskilling process, identify and bridge existing skill gaps within the organization. To accomplish this, thoroughly assess your current employees’:

  • team structure
  • list of roles
  • performance reviews
  • satisfaction and future goals

Next, compare these findings to your organization’s future needs. Ask yourself:

  • How will our team structure look in one year?
  • Which positions will we need to create or fill?
  • Which employees are close to transitioning into these positions?
  • Who might not be close but is interested in transitioning to a new position?

This will help you see the areas where your employees could benefit from additional training and development. Use your analysis to determine who needs to be upskilled or reskilled and how to make it happen.

2. Develop a training strategy

Once you’ve identified your organization’s skill gaps, you can use what you’ve learned to flesh out your training strategy and approach. Perhaps your team could benefit from online courses that teach coding or bring them up to speed on the latest technology trends. Or maybe senior employees can train new hires to learn specific job functions.

Consider how best to train employees by choosing from a variety of methods, including:

When you align your training programs with your specific job function and business goals, you can maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. Also be sure to take into consideration your employees’ learning preferences. If you aren’t sure what they are, take a poll for valuable insight into the best methods for your team.

3. Encourage a culture of learning

Get employees excited to continue learning and growing by offering regular professional development opportunities. Reward them for reading relevant books, host team communication trainings, and invite guest speakers to inspire your workers.

You can also create a resource library with books, articles, and online resources for employees to explore and learn from at their leisure. Try establishing a company-wide policy that encourages employees to spend a certain amount of time on professional development each week, so they can learn at their own pace.

When you promote a continuous learning environment, it gets employees excited to grow and encourages a culture of professional development. This makes it easier to adapt to changing economic environments and continue growing your brand, no matter what your industry looks like.

4. Promote cross-functional training and collaboration

Employers can create cross-functional training opportunities to expose employees to a variety of skills and processes outside of their current roles. When teams across different departments collaborate, it opens the door for more teamwork and allows employees to learn new skills. In fact, companies that collaborate successfully report 30% better innovation and 36% increase in productivity.

This type of collaboration enables employees to identify transferable skills that can be applied in various ways within the organization, so be sure to provide ample opportunities for departments to work together and share knowledge.

5. Support employees career paths

The key to upskilling and reskilling employees effectively is to ensure you’re training the right people for they would not only be skilled at but would also enjoy. This is why part of the process is matching employees with learning opportunities that support next steps in their careers.

Encourage managers to support their team by getting to know which developmental opportunities they’d be interested in pursuing and plan the framework for next steps. When you invest in the career development of your employees, your organization benefits from a highly skilled and motivated workforce that is committed to helping your business succeed.

Continue Building a Skilled Workforce

When you upskill and reskill employees, you promote an organizational culture based on learning and personal growth. By implementing these strategies, you will better position your business to thrive regardless of the economic outlook, since you’ll be helping employees consistently adapt to the new demands of your market. Get started today and gain access to millions of skilled candidates looking to work for a company like yours.