The digital era has changed the face of modern small and medium organizations (SMB) and large enterprises alike. The call to keep up with the latest, the fastest, the most user-friendly innovations is old-hat – we hear it daily. What’s not so evident is the pace of change hitting us from all sides. It’s like going down the worst rapids of the Colorado river that only a few oarsmen are skilled enough to navigate. Trusting those untrained to tackle such white water turbulence would be a bold but foolhardy move.
It can’t be overstated: No matter your organization, people are your most valuable assets. The process of recruiting and training, then keeping recruits motivated, is a serious investment in time and money. When a staff member leaves the position for any number of reasons, the estimated lost investment is $15,000 on average. That excludes getting back on the recruitment treadmill to find a replacement.
- Gaps in our strategies regularly appear as competitive pressures call on us to improve our brand and customer experience (CX).
- When people you rely on to meet these challenges throw in the towel, the gaps widen and may quickly become critical.
Right there, we have sound reasons for upskilling and creating loyal employees with job satisfaction. Moreover, considering the high cost of hiring and rehiring, it’s a prudent route to invest in your current workforce. If there’s buried treasure in your backyard, what’s the point in wandering far afield looking for the same thing?
How receptive is your workforce to upskilling?
As a business owner or CEO, you’re not the only one buffeted by the winds of change. Your people worry about their jobs becoming redundant – a stark reality in today’s world. They desperately want to avoid being left behind as the employment train passes their station. Hundreds of thousands of jobs, taken for granted only a few years back, are dead in the water, making a last stand, or on the endangered list. There are many examples of this in numerous industries:
- Gone are the lines of operators pushing and pulling electrodes into switchboards. PABX systems, working through the cloud, handle massive phone traffic seamlessly using AI voice communication to replace humans.
- Publishers of newspapers and magazines are disappearing into the distance, as readership dwindles. Millennials and even older generations prefer online alternatives offering the same thing. There are hundreds of job designations (like “typesetter”) hitting the dust.
- Home channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others are slamming the traditional cinema outing, thus kicking jobs like “usher” and “projectionist” to the curb.
- Clean energy like wind, solar, and nuclear power threaten coal mining jobs on a global scale.
- Also, the new fracking technology has boosted oil and gas as a preferred and affordable energy source. Jobs for mechanics, electricians, technicians, realtors, and drillers have not disappeared but shifted to remote towns hardly heard of before.
- Watch fax repairman going the way of the dodo, killed off by internet-connected email, WhatsApp, and a dozen other messaging options.
- Consider that Uber or Lyft drivers are endangered species as self-driving cars emerge as a transport option in the gig economy.
- Indoor food growing technology and (seemingly impossible) lab produced nutrition are pushing traditional farmers aside.
- Retail malls are going dark everywhere as online shopping steams ahead. Multiple sales attendants in every store department, a staple job for centuries, may soon be a rare sight.
The list goes on and on. Upskilling, as a company investment strategy, must keep jobs relevant in the first place. Therefore, it should teach the existing workforce the latest trending skills and, more importantly, how to adapt to change. It plays directly into a better employee experience (EX) based on the not surprising statistic that 84% say they expect and want the company to raise their level of competence.
The benefits of investing in upskilling
From every angle, the pluses are compelling, and the minuses are genuinely non-existent. A few benefits to upskilling include:
- It improves employee experience (EX) along with a big bump up in employee morale.
- By upgrading skills, it effectively keeps job obsolescence at bay.
- It creates employee loyalty and commitment to your company.
- Employee enthusiasm may go viral and reach the ears of talented candidates looking to join progressive organizations like yours.
- It uplifts employee competence, keeping them engaged, motivated, and job satisfied.
- All the items above contribute to better teamwork with common goals, working together in a supportive atmosphere.
- The super-charged energy and positivity that upskilling creates can be contagious enough to impact your customers and customer experience (CX).
- Avoiding the loss of $15,000 every time an employee leaves, and the thousands of dollars to replace him or her, are massive reasons to upskill all on their own.
The million dollar question: How to upskill?
There’s a logical process, and it begins with finding the gaps in the skill network of your workforce. Searching questions, if answered accurately, reveal the weak spots quickly. As a yardstick, the skill areas most wanting across a broad range of industries are as follows:
- Technology at every level (18%)
- Leadership and coaching (17%)
- Solving problems in a team setting (15%)
- Project management (12%)
- Communication and social media (10%)
- Business and finance (8%)
Train your staff without disrupting regular work schedules. Podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, organized seminars, and more, are incredibly flexible options that can do wonders in the training arena.
Here’s an example:
- A construction company with many complicated projects was held back by disruptions when staff members left the company.
- After some research and consideration, they found a method where engineers, wearing virtual reality helmets as they work, recorded their experience step-by-step.
- Then, recruits donning the same helmet were able to see the process through his or her predecessor’s eyes.
- This virtual apprenticeship quickly closed skill gaps left by those resigning, retiring, transferring, or moving up the ladder.
Upskilling is not a subsidiary company activity. It’s a central mindset, a strategy, a corporate theme with significant consequences that require priority attention. EX and CX connect to upskilling, which means that it has the power to elevate your business to new levels of accomplishment.