4 Ways You Can Adopt a Long-Term Upskilling Programme
The culture of work has changed so much in the last few decades. From the times the PC took over offices in the 1980s and replaced the piles of paperwork, to discovering the World Wide Web and gaining instant knowledge in the 1990s and 2000s, there has been a sea change in the way people approach work.
Now, in the last decade, with the social media revolution and the knowledge boom, we are going through yet another rapid change in the way our workplace and work relationships function. This doesn’t necessarily spell doomsday. Change is inevitable, and as history has proved time and again, we will adapt, evolve and equip ourselves.
Businesses are slowly beginning to feel and understand the positive impact of investing in training employees. This is especially true, as more companies get further along on their journey to automation and digitisation. One of the critical questions they have to face is how to handle their workforce.
India is among the fast-growing countries for startups, and we also have a young population, that is constantly looking for new experiences. Many businesses pivot and certain skill sets suddenly grow redundant. Or, several old world companies have senior staff whose roles are no longer relevant. In such a scenario upskilling becomes relevant.
These days, I’m finding more and more employers who are comfortable with people who can adapt to situations, possess multiple skill sets, and have diverse work experience rather than people who are specialists as the former can add immense value to the company. In this context, training and upskilling employees have become part of the serious conversation in HR circles. Companies have realised that upskilling is good not only for businesses but also for the employees involved.
However, the more pressing question floating around in boardrooms now is whether the training should be a one-time thorough exercise, or whether it should be continuous and how much should really be spent on training employees when there is no guarantee that they will apply the learning or stay long enough.
In my opinion, the key is that the training should measurably add value to the company and improve its bottom line. Several companies are beginning to see how continuous ongoing training is a better solution.
Another very real problem that requires affordable and workable solutions is repurposing employees who are likely to lose their jobs to technology. While popular opinion suggests machines will entirely take over our jobs, the future of jobs has many more influencing factors.
A well thought out upskilling and training programme, therefore, will ensure an improvement in most facets of the overall business.
Here are four ways in which you can implement an ongoing training programme for employees:
1. Embrace technology, and invest in continuous training:
When companies adapt to new situations, they generally follow a pattern to either hire a whole new team of employees or to outsource those needed skills to another company entirely. But gaining technology skills for the advancement of your organisation does not necessarily mean losing your people. Training should be a crux for any organisation’s digitisation strategy. By investing in your existing workforce, you create a healthy work environment based on continuous learning and collaboration. Equally important, you hold onto the specific knowledge each of those employees has about your business.
Simply put, employees keep their jobs, companies keep their knowledge advantage. This advantage cannot and should not be undervalued. It’s entirely possible that not every employee will want to make the shift, but those who do have to be given a chance. This doesn’t mean that you don’t let go of employees. That may be inevitable. However, you can retain those who are good and those who are willing to learn. This will also go a long way in the reputation of your company. Practically, this may be viewed as a big expense for your company. However, in the long-run, a well-trained employee will give back to the company, and this will also encourage job satisfaction and arrest attrition.
2. Build a culture of knowledge sharing:
Creating a conducive culture not only provides a fillip to learn but also allows employees to want to participate and put their newly acquired skills into practice. Besides, ensuring your employee’s skills are up to date in terms of knowledge and new technologies is useful for overall competitiveness in the industry and is also of immense value from a business compliance perspective with updated regulations and new and improved technologies.
With digitisation and automation looming large, being ahead of the industry is a must. Learning also leads to better productivity, and can drastically improve employee engagement. This will positively affect teamwork, quality, approach to customers, and ultimately revenue generation. One way to do this is to provide opportunities to showcase newly acquired skills to participants of training. Initiate internal programmes where employees are assigned a buddy to transfer learning. Effective peer learning comes down to the fact that learners share similar experiences, and that common experience has significant benefits. Employees understand the issues they face on a day-to-day basis better than any consultant or trainer could. And importantly, it also optimises training costs.
3. Encourage peer-learning, participation across age groups:
While on one hand companies are grappling with repurposing talent, they also constantly have trouble locating candidates with in-demand skills, especially in fields like technology. In such a situation, upskilling allows companies to invest in workers, giving them a chance to acquire the skills the business needs to succeed.
Upskilling can provide a competitive advantage when you’re able to staff new positions right away rather than go through the cumbersome process of hiring someone for a specific job. This makes an organisation much more agile and responsive to ever-changing needs.
Companies can provide employees with access to programmes that help them acquire new skills or skills that are lacking in their teams.
This allows businesses to close skill gaps with trusted workers who show the proper amount of potential. And as far as hiring new talent goes, companies can partner with higher educational institutions to promote the development of current skills and can in turn help in hiring the most relevant talent as well. In this way, the organisation can achieve two objectives in one go, as in this can mould the next layer of workers to meet business needs, and also help in job creation. The idea is to device ways of encouraging participation across age groups and strategies to support lifelong learning.
It is very essential that you are up to date with the latest industry trends. This will help your company be two steps ahead always. This will also ensure the company has the right and relevant talent.
4. Ensure job satisfaction:
Since employees are given an opportunity to learn skills that would otherwise cost them a lot to learn elsewhere or themselves, this adds to employee motivation and enhances their sense of satisfaction within their current careers and employment. This is useful in preventing competitors from poaching some of your best talents by offering them upskilling incentives. Recruiting new employees is an expensive affair. Since employees are always looking for opportunities for more responsibility and better employment packages, continuous upskilling makes for a great opportunity for both employees and employers to get what they want. Upskilling also helps to improve teamwork and boost productivity as it retains social capital.
Some simple ways you can ensure career satisfaction is to see that new recruits have a realistic understanding of their roles and see that they match the values of the organisation. Feedback on employee satisfaction should be taken seriously and addressed. Plus, having an open door policy between employees and managers gives free access, and is helpful in breaking down communication barriers.
Most importantly, measure and evaluate recruitment and retention practices to implement any improvements that can be made. Every organisation will encounter hurdles not only around evolving technology but also around the very culture of their workplace. The technology is the easy part. It’s changing your organisation’s culture that’s the challenge. So have a plan and strategy in place. The key thing to remember is upskilling need not be an expensive exercise. It is a way to make the best use of human capital and will go a long way in benefitting the company in the long-term.
Yellow Spark can help you devise relevant, continuous training programmes for employees. This will help optimise costs and ensure they stay relevant, and add value to your organisation. To know more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.