Upskilling Your Team - A Comprehensive Guide

It doesn't matter what niche your business is in, future-proofing your workforce is always an investment worth seeking. One of the best ways to do that is through upskilling your team.

There are many benefits to upskilling, and there's even more work involved in successfully and effectively upskilling your team/workforce. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll show you how to upskill your team successfully, including the right skills to invest in and the best education technologies, platforms, and places to train employees online —all while maintaining your current level of operations.

What is workforce upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of teaching, learning, and practicing certain competencies that are relevant to meet the demands of an evolving job market.

To put it simply, upskilling is basically what it sounds like; upping your (or your teams) skillset.

Through this, you expand your team's capabilities and employability so they can keep up with the rapidly changing economy and field. 

For an upskill training initiative to be successful, you should identify the skills that will be most valuable today and in the future. Then, convert that applicable knowledge of skills into productive results for your team and your company.

Why is it necessary to upskill?

Like we've said, upskilling is an investment. 

It's a huge leap to ensure that your workforce will be all set for the future —all while keeping your company running smoothly and efficiently. Upskilling will cost your company certain resources, but the ROI is worth it.

Some key benefits of upskilling are to increase employee retention, boost morale, and save money.

Benefits to upskilling your team/employees/workforce

6 top benefits of upskilling your team

  1. Fill a role
  2. Save money
  3. Prepare for inevitable skill gaps
  4. Improve employee retention
  5. Boost workforce morale
  6. Attract new talent

1. Fill a need within the organization

What do you do if you have something that only needs a few minutes a day, or a couple of hours a week, but no skilled employee to do the job?

You could hire someone freelance and spend time teaching them your companies intricacies and culture. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, and all too often, leaders spend a lot of time and money on a commitment to someone who is not committed to them long-term. 

So what's the best alternative?

You could train one of your employees, on your own time, the skills they'll need to complete that job the best way possible.

2. Upskilling saves money and is financially responsible

The cost of recruiting, hiring, and training can quickly add up. Upskilling provides a way to reduce those costs by utilizing two key things: current team members and free-time.

If there's an employee with necessary prerequisite skills and some free time, it would be a good use of time to train them to be able to take on more types of tasks for the organization.

Cross-trained employees are more effective, engaged, and efficient.

3. Avoid & prepare for skill gaps

Upskilling is a way to stay ahead and be best prepared for the future. There are a number of factors that can and will contribute to skills gap that all employers need to face. 

Two main factors contributing to workplace skills gaps

Two main reasons for a workplace skills gap are:

  1. An aging workforce
  2. Technological advancements

 

As your workers retire, you're left with open positions that are hard to fill internally or externally. Not only that, but there will also be skills and knowledge that get lost in the process. A position's qualifications are just the lowest bar set —your employees' individual skills, expertise, and competencies are most important. 

Even if the incoming replacement is just as qualified as your previous employee, there will always be information and expertise that gets lost in the process.

The second reason for potential skill gaps comes from rapid advancements in technology. New developments are happening left and right, notably in automation, education, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Ever since we've entered the 'digital age,' technology has become more and more incorporated in our lines of work, and we now face the necessity of keeping up with the times.

This changes the nature of many jobs and the skills needed to fulfill them. 

It can be perceived as a threat to the livelihood of a comfortable and content workforce, but these developments should be harnessed towards increased efficiency and preparation for the future.

Upskilling is the best way to address and protect against inevitable skills gaps. As a leader, you can gauge your own team's individual skills and hone them to keep up with the constantly changing environment.

4. Upskilling improves retention.

Your workers' capability to become more productive is not just the main focus of upskilling. Employees want to contribute to a company who invests in their career development.

Career development through upskilling is an important tool to ensure that your employees stay loyal to your company.

There is a risk of investing in developing your people who leave anyway, resulting in negative ROI. However, it's a bigger dealbreaker if you don't invest in career development and they stay.

People want to grow with their employer and feel a part of the team looking forward to the future.

So what does this mean for your company?

Low employee retention is a red flag for most of the applicants and third-party employers. If your company goes through employees like disposable wares, you'll have multiple positions unfilled that no one would want to apply for.

With upskilling, you'll be able to provide your employees the right skillsets that won't become obsolete in five years or so. This shows that you care about their current ability to fulfill their career needs and their future goals, regardless of whether they stay within your organization. 

That leads to more production and effort from employees who rely on the growth of their employer.

5. Having the right skillset will boost employee morale.

Sometimes, it's also about having the right attitude.

Employees who are well-equipped with the right skills and have development and training opportunities are much happier in their company roles. This is because they are not worried about being stuck in their current career, or worse, left behind. Plus, they are also confident that they can have career advancement potential because they have the right skill set to succeed.

With the increasing competitiveness in the market, it's important to keep your employees at the same level of competitiveness. Knowing that they are working competently towards something that would benefit them in the future creates a deeper and a better sense of purpose.

6. Upskilling will attract prospects and new talents.

More and more HR professionals are having difficulty recruiting because of the existing shortage of skilled candidates.

This is why companies are doing their best to promote their brand towards applicants, especially when they want highly-skilled individuals as their employees. But more than any marketing strategy, your current employees are stronger brand advocates for your company. 

If your employees are well-taken care of and have a higher sense of purpose in their position, they're more likely to recommend your company to their network, whether it's their colleagues, family, or friends. With that, you'll now have a diverse pool of talent and prospects to choose from when the time comes that you need it.

How to upskill your workforce

Now that we've established why it is necessary to integrate upskilling in your workforce management let's get to the part where you start your upskilling plan?

When it comes to upskilling, you can't simply hire a professional to teach your employees a new skill or buy a course online for team members to complete. You need a proper roadmap and strategy to ensure that your upskilling methods have a purpose and are beneficial to your company to reap positive investment returns. Typically organizations will focus on job-centric upskilling that immediately impacts an employees ability to successfully complete a task.

 

There are 8 steps to take when upskilling your team. 

 

1. Set your goals for the upskilling process

Before you decide to upskill your team, you have to know first why you're doing it.

Your reasons will be your solid foundation on how you're going to upskill because different reasons should also yield different results. 

You should be able to set your goals for:

Employees: What are the areas of improvement? What groups require a higher level of focus?

Team: How do your employees fare in terms of teamwork? How do you make them more efficient as an individual and as a team?

Service improvement: Which areas of service require improvement? What skills are needed for your team to be more efficient and effective?

When setting your goals, always be SMART about it. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Aspirational, Realistic, and Time-bound. This way, you'll be able to gauge the success or failure of your upskilling initiative.

2. Schedule dedicated training times

To ensure that your upskilling initiative is useful, you have to allocate a part of their working hours dedicated to it. 

It's important to dedicate time slots focused entirely for learning and training, whether this is like a traditional paid 'weekend-course' or during normal working hours. Work with your employees to allocate a certain number of days or hours for their training that promotes a good learning environment without hindering daily operations. 

Depending on your upskilling process, you can have all of your team members do it synchronously. That way, keeping track of their progress will be much easier. But in some cases, you'll have to leave the pacing to your employee's discretion.

3. Have a dedicated learning space.

Make learning more efficient and effective by eliminating distractions and building a learning space dedicated to their upskilling process.

Have an auditorium or a conference room booked during hours that they're supposed to be studying their training materials. While it's easier to distribute modules or learning handouts to your employees' desk and leave them to it, the current office set up that most companies have aren't conducive for learning.

This will also help them prioritize learning and enhancing their skills instead of using the allocated time to do their unfinished work-related tasks. 

4. Utilize EdTech & MOOCs.

There are so many incredible resources for learning and upskilling that improve the efficiency and effectiveness. There are affordable resources available for use at your own pace and on your own time teaching everything from sales and corporate strategy to marketing, SEO, leadership, photoshop & video editing, web development, and much more.

You can check out the top rated upskilling resources & courses available online.

5. Outsource proctors/instructors if necessary

When you're planning to allocate the time and resources to upskilling your employees, you also have to make sure that your employees are getting quality information and skills. 

It's common to tap another employee with a higher position to facilitate training because it's less of a hassle for the company. Since you're working under the same organization, the instructor can shape the learning method around your company's vision.

But if you believe that your team would benefit from someone who is more knowledgeable or can't find someone inside your company to be a proctor, don't be afraid to outsource.

There are a lot of companies out there that specialize in providing instructors for upskilling purposes.

6. Maximize personalized training.

Every employee has a different learning curve. Some might learn best when they're in a group, while others retain more information alone.

Even if you've hired the most qualified instructors, there will be employees that might get little to no benefit from their teaching methods.

Incorporating a personalized learning and training program into your upskilling process is a great way to address this situation. This will allow your employees to actively engage in different skill-based courses depending on their needs, as well as your company's. 

This will also address the existing skills gap between your employees. Not everyone is on the same learning page. Through personalized learning, your employees will train based on their past performances as an individual. 

7. Have a post-training plan prepared.

Going through the upskilling process is just the start of improving your company's team and their service. Once they've undergone adequate training to upskill, there should be a post-training plan in place to make sure that your team will be able to practice and implement what they've learned.

At the same time, as the leader, you should provide them with the necessary tools and resources to apply their new skills at work effectively. 

8. Assess and reassess the results.

Upskilling is a continuous process. So it's up to you to assess your upskilling process's effectiveness and determine whether your team needs further reinforcement.

Also, just because your company did an upskilling program once, that doesn't mean that it ends there. Remember that information is continuously changing —and so to are the skills needed in your field if you want your team to remain competitive.

Continually reassess your company's state regarding your employee's skillset and determine if it's time for you to hold another upskilling program.

7 most useful skills to consider when upskilling your team

As we've learned, the skills and training needed are unique to each business and individual. So, what are the most useful skills you can teach your team members and employees?

It all depends on your company and how your services are managed. But in the corporate world, there are technical or corporate skills that provide value to any team, across all fields. Here are some of the top skills worth considering when upskilling your team:

1. Sales

Your business is selling something to someone…right? Your team should always have sales at the front of their minds, and it should affect everything they do. 

Knowing how to sell, when to sell, where to sell and why, is crucial. Surprisingly this is one skill that isn’t as common as it should be in the business world. A huge step up on the competition is having a team that is prepared with the knowledge and experience of sales, to not only benefit your company, but every other business you interact with. 

The good news is, sales thinking is one of the fastest and simplest skills you can acquire through online training and upskilling platforms. Here you can find the top rated online courses and resources teaching sales.

2. Leadership

Behind every successful business is an effective leader. So why does your team need to be leaders too?

The CEOs and top-hat managers don't just learn leadership skills. You would want to invest in building a team that cultivates leadership because, essentially, the skills that influential leaders have are also essential skills to be a stellar team member.

If the individuals on your team are comfortable with the idea of leading, you'll have a workforce that is not afraid of responsibility. That reduces the need for micromanaging and task delegating because you'll have employees who are capable enough to do it themselves.

Best leadership courses and resources online can be found here.

3. Digital Marketing

In this day and age, where almost every aspect of the business has its own online presence, digital marketing became a crucial tool for every employee. If you want your company to have a robust online presence, upskilling your current team with digital marketing is a great idea.

With a high demand for employees with digital marketing skills, it's more efficient and cheaper for a company to upskill their current workers with the right knowledge and skills for digital marketing than hire someone. 

It's not necessary to cover a wide array of subjects too. You have to pick the relevant ones and the most useful for your team and your company. Common digital marketing skills are running ad campaigns, creating content strategies, or social media.

Here are the top rated digital marketing resources & online courses.

4. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO goes hand-in-hand with digital marketing and developing an online presence.

For you to be established online, you need to have traffic on your site. To do that, you'll need good visibility on search engines. That's where SEO comes in.

Having in-depth knowledge of how search engines work and producing content optimized for internet consumption is important. If your company hasn't started incorporating SEO into your marketing strategy, you're losing many opportunities that you could get from your online audience.

SEO is a great focus for upskilling because it's a long-term investment that shows no signs of becoming irrelevant.

Find top rated SEO resources & online courses.

5. Persuasive Copywriting

This is a skill that is often overlooked by both employees and employers. 

Writing a well-crafted paragraph that will get you where you want to be is a skill that should be widely used in a corporate setting. Not all employees are comfortable when it comes to writing. If you want your team to be as effective as possible, you should certainly consider investing in improving this specific corporate skill.

Copywriting is not just about grammar and sentence structure —although those are very important. It's also about writing effectively and knowing how to write in certain situations and scenarios. 

Every piece of copy, whether its a blog post or a sent email, represents your brand. All employees need to communicate appropriately and in line with your business.

6. Graphic Design

Knowing how to do basic design is a skill that is very much appreciated when it comes to employees. Even if your team is not directly working at a creatives department, knowing graphic design elements will significantly improve the quality of work that your team produces.

You don't even need to pay for expensive professional software to engage in graphic design. There are a lot of graphic design tools available online that are built for professional and business use. 

Graphic design is everywhere when it comes to corporate work. From designing letterheads for internal communication to creating engaging presentations, or digital marketing, design is involved.

Graphic design online courses and resources

7. Computer Programming (Literacy)

The rise of digital technology created a huge need for employees who are well-versed in the programming niche.

Now that most businesses have an online presence, your company can benefit from having employees who know the basics of programming and structure. Even if tech isn't your companies niche, communicating and understanding it probably is. 

Aside from technological benefits, leading how to code will also develop your team's soft skills. More often than not, you're working in a team when coding, which needs a certain level of interpersonal skills. That includes collaboration, working in a group, proper communication skills, and building an excellent professional relationship.

Best web & computer development online courses/resources.

Conclusion

As a leader, it's your duty to make sure that your team is evolving with you. Upskilling is a crucial part of managing a workforce for today and into the future. One should not be content with the current knowledge and ability they have, especially in business and corporate where everything is competitive. 

Upskilling is essential for the growth of all businesses and individuals alike. We have put together the best & top rated online courses for upskilling you and your team today.