The cost of training an already-here employee to perform new tasks and fill the gaps turns out to be less of a burden than that of trying to replace them. Apart from that, giving staff members the opportunity to learn more and advance their career is a sure way to keep many of them happy and engaged.
We know that because millennial workers say so. Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Work and Live reports that training opportunities play a large role when millennial professionals choose a job. According to Gallup, 59% of them say one of the most important criteria when applying for a job is room for learning Moreover, 87% of them agree that the opportunity to develop their career matters in a position in general.
Upskilling is thus the sweet move that, if done right, can be instrumental not only in filling skill gaps but also in helping businesses secure employee retentionhelping businesses secure employee retention while fostering engagement, which never fails to pay dividends.
However it’s important to keep in mind that training employees who want to learn the way they want to learn is key to a successful program.
Don’t push it
The LA airport Concourse Hotel, in its initiative to become a Hyatt Regency Forbes four-star unit, invested in substantial staff training to upgrade skills to 4-star level. Programs trained managers and the hotel’s unionized workers on the four star standards, upskilling the workforce to prepare them for working in new rooms, facilities, amenities and restaurants.
Because they needed to improve the limited English speaking skills of the housekeeping staff, the hotel scheduled two-hour lessons twice a week in 6-week cycles. The program was optional; learners were chosen from those who volunteered. The willingness to leave their comfort zone and acquire new skills to stay afloat doesn’t merely show motivation, it also shows commitment to the business’s vision.
On the other hand, making training compulsory and enforcing its completion, as useful as it might seem, tends to reinforce a common misconception that training is punishment. Moreover, selecting the most motivated ones to upskill makes sure you are left with the best. In fact, those who refuse free training and say, “No, I guess I’m fine with being underskilled” are actively choosing to make themselves redundant.
Make it customizable
Effective training means taking an employee from where they are to where they ought to be. Considering different individuals will initially be at different starting points, the best approach to ensure efficiency is to allow them to craft their own journey by picking what they need. That will prevent duplicating what they already know — and losing engagement due to boredom — or be overwhelmed by more than they were ready for.
An AI-powered platform will be able to personalize the learner’s experience by adapting to their progress, but conducting a needs analysis before training might also be necessary. From self-assessment to online testing, there are multiple ways to identify gaps in performance. Statistical analysis can indicate where departments and individuals fall short of the results expected from them.
Make learning a natural part of the company’s culture
Upskilling will be easier if learning is intrinsic to the company’s culture. Besides, engaging workers in a way that encourages the enhancement of existing skills and development of new ones, the company will benefit from a workforce willing to adopt new methods and processes. With the pace of change accelerating, emerging technologies and the rapid deployment of automation means today’s workers will have to learn learn new skills to keep up. With a culture that values and invests in learning, knowledge gaps won’t grow so wide to the point where they become a competitive disadvantage.
Capitalize on self-driven employees
While some may need encouragement (and the realization that they need to step up), some other professionals are naturally hungry. Do you remember the stats that show younger professionals find growth crucial? Well, some of these employees want to walk the extra mile and learn beyond their basic training, and it’s in everyone’s interest that they do. Informal lunch and learn sessions are a productive way for motivated learners to improve their skills.
There’s also no shortage of useful content waiting to be curated into supplemental learning materialcurated into supplemental learning material that can be made available via a LMS or the company intranet. Jason Wingard, Dean and Professor of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University, emphasizes the need for HR to take on a content curator role. While maintaining employee ownership of learning is important, he says HR should still play a part in crafting L&D programs that guide and incentivize employees to learn more of the skills that are specific to the company’s needs.
One other smart idea to consider is leveraging the knowledge of your workers by inviting them to create short training videos.
Upskilling can be a win-win for business and employees. Not only will it provide benefits for workers, but it keeps the organization able to retain talented motivated workers and to jeep pace with market changes.