Insights for Organisations

10 Benefits of Upskilling your Employees

John Smith

According to the World Economic Forum, companies are likely to provide reskilling and upskilling opportunities to the large majority (73%) of their staff in the lead up to 2025. With jobs consistently evolving, over 40% of skills that employees need to effectively perform their jobs will change over the next few years, meaning many companies are now prioritising training initiatives.

In fact, employers should expect more roles to become redundant and see emerging professions grow from 7.8% to 13.5% of the total employee base. It is estimated that an incredible 85 million jobs will be overridden by 2025, as a result of the shift in the division of labour from humans to machines and algorithms.

However, it’s important to recognise that upskilling is not only a necessity to keep up with the changing digital landscape. Upskilling your employees can also provide a host of benefits for your business and your employees, from improved job satisfaction to improved ROI.

Let’s explore the benefits of upskilling your employees in more detail…

What’s in this article?

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the practice of offering existing employees the opportunity to learn new skills and advance their capabilities. This may be through additional training, mentoring or peer coaching.  

Employee upskilling is important for boosting staff satisfaction and retention rates, as well as future-proofing your business, ensuring you maintain a competitive edge over competitors in your industry.

10 Benefits of upskilling your employees

There are numerous benefits of upskilling your employees, including the following:

  1. Adapt to new technologies
  2. Build resilient teams
  3. Boost employee satisfaction
  4. Increase employee retention rates
  5. Provide a better quality of service & diversify your offering
  6. Increase ROI
  7. Attract new talent
  8. Enhance diversity within your teams
  9. Streamline succession planning
  10. Bridge the digital skills gap

1. Adapt to new technologies

With rapid advancements in technology continuing to exceed all expectations, it’s important employees constantly develop new skills to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and software. Upskilling is essential to do this, enabling employees to adapt to new technologies and use them to their fullest potential. This is particularly important as machines are expected to take over half of all work tasks by 2025!

It is predicted that millions of routine or manual jobs could be replaced by automation or other technology, which means the lowest skilled workers will feel the largest impact. As a result, millions will require reskilling or upskilling to deal with the shift in demand. So, as an increasing number of organisations undergo rapid digital transformation, it is imperative that you give your employees the skills they need to make the transition.

2. Build resilient teams

The job landscape is ever-evolving, especially in the technology industry due to quick-changing technological developments. However, we are currently feeling the impact of this now more than ever. The demand for digital skills was heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic that forced societies to become more agile and receptive to change.

For example, the pandemic paved the way for more flexible working arrangements, and although lockdowns are a thing of the past, working from home and hybrid working are still common practice. But who knows what’s next? It’s best to be prepared. Ensuring your teams’ skills are always up-to-date, you can put your organisation in the best possible position to mitigate future hurdles.

When faced with new challenges, employees with a broad range of skills are better equipped to find creative solutions and adapt to changing circumstances. Upskilling can provide employees with the tools and knowledge needed to meet these challenges head-on.

3. Boost employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is influenced by various factors that contribute to an individual’s overall job experience. This could include things like salaries, work-life balance, work environment and, opportunities for skills development.

According to a study by Willis Towers Watson, 70% of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave because they see no future advancement in the current job”, so to ensure the happiness of your employees, it’s critical that they feel valued and have clear career progression goals. 

Upskilling staff is a great way to show your employees that you care about their progression and help them feel there’s something ‘in it for them’, which can in turn boost employee morale and improve job satisfaction among your teams.

4. Increase employee retention rates

Ensuring high employee satisfaction rates across your business is crucial for keeping productivity and quality of output high – and employee turnover rates low. In fact, upskilling is pivotal to talent retention, with recent research revealing that 32% of employees in the UK changed jobs because their employer did not offer upskilling or training opportunities.

Increased job satisfaction can lead to higher levels of employee retention, as satisfied employees are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Likewise, upskilling initiatives can boost employee engagement, which means employees have higher levels of commitment to your company and a stronger connection with their job. It can even foster a sense of loyalty among your employees as they feel that their employer is investing in their development and growth, and feel appreciated.

5. Provide a better quality of service & diversify your offering

Equally as important as employee satisfaction is client satisfaction. Providing excellent experience or service to your clients is imperative to win repeat business or new clients through word-of-mouth recommendations or case studies. 

With ever-changing business demands, new technologies and high competition, continuous upskilling can help your business keep pace and stay competitive. It’s simply not enough to do as you’ve always done, as your business will quickly fall behind. As the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work states: “Today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow, and newly acquired skills may quickly become obsolete.” 

Upskilling your workforce through regular training and hiring specially trained talent to integrate into your existing teams, enables you to adapt to new demands and stay agile in a competitive market. Employee upskilling can also introduce new skills into your organisation and create new specialisms, allowing you to offer new services or leverage new technologies to improve your offering.

6. Increase ROI

Upskilling your employees has many benefits, including improving financial returns for your business. In fact, an overage of 66% of employers see a return on investment within one year through upskilling and reskilling staff. So, it comes as no surprise that over 70% of employees plan to offer reskilling and upskilling to their staff by 2025!

Similarly, it can prove more expensive to hire new staff than upskill your existing workforce. There are multiple costs and time considerations to take into account when hiring, such as HR, recruitment agency fees, job advertisements, candidate screening, and onboarding and training of course.

7. Attract new talent

Professional development and training opportunities are ranked highly by job hunters when identifying prospective employers. This is particularly true among younger employees (ages 16 to 24) who feel as though they lacked on-the-job training as a result of remote working arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, offering upskilling opportunities can make an organisation more attractive to prospective talent in the job market.

By offering upskilling programmes, you can differentiate your business from competitors and attract, and retain, high-performing candidates who are looking to enhance their skills and advance their careers. These are the types of candidates you want to hire and that will contribute to the success of your organisation!

8. Enhance diversity within your teams

Hiring for specific skills can often mean choosing from a limited talent pool and perpetuating homogeneity within your teams. By overly focusing on specific skills, organisations may miss out on diverse talent that can bring unique perspectives and strengths to the team.

Instead, consider proactively implementing diverse sourcing and recruitment strategies to ensure that you reach out to a wide range of candidates from diverse backgrounds with the potential to learn and grow with your organisation – even if this means hiring under-qualified candidates. You can use upskilling to provide successful candidates with the right skills they need for the job. In this way, you can also make their skill sets perfectly-suited for the role and build stronger teams.

9. Streamline succession planning

Upskilling can play a key role in streamlining succession planning within an organisation in a number of ways. For example, training programmes can be used to identify high-performing employees with the potential to excel into leadership positions, or even address any skill gaps in potential successors.

Offering internal promotions, as opposed to hiring externally for senior roles, can benefit an organisation by ensuring that the candidate has good knowledge of the company culture and values, reducing onboarding time and costs, improving employee satisfaction and loyalty, and increasing employee retention rates.

10. Bridge the digital skills gap

Ultimately, upskilling your employees will also have a positive impact on the wider industry, helping to bridge the digital skills gap. The demand for technology experts is rising in order to keep up with technological advancements, fill job positions, and contribute to the growing economy. So, by offering upskilling opportunities to your staff, you can contribute to achieving these goals. Learn more about how upskilling could be the answer to bridging the digital skills gap.

How can businesses upskill their workforce?

Below we outline the key steps you should consider when creating an upskilling strategy for your organisation. 

1. Identify your skills gap

It’s important to compile multiple sources of information when evaluating your organisation’s skills gap. Consider how your company is performing in relation to its set KPIs and its growth trajectory. Then, examine whether there are any obvious obstacles to growth that can be overcome with additional resources and upskilling training. It’s also critical to speak to your employees first-hand to gauge the key areas that require improvement and which skills they feel would be most beneficial in their day-to-day life.

2. Make training ongoing and available to everyone

Ensure that all employees have access to upskilling training. This means hosting it in an easily accessible way, such as via an online portal, so staff can access it when working remotely or at a time that suits them. 

If you are a multi-regional organisation, ensure you have localised training to accommodate employees with a different first language. 

3. Reward and incentivise employees

While the majority of employees will likely embrace upskilling training, there will always be some employees who are less enthusiastic, whether that’s because they feel they don’t need the training, they’re simply not interested, or because they have limited time available. Consider incentivising your employees, either by giving them recognition (shout outs, leaderboards or positive reinforcement) or by rewarding them with prizes or financial incentives.

4. Ensure training is accessible for all 

Don’t forget that all employees will have different learning styles and needs. Make sure you offer upskilling training in a range of different formats so it’s accessible to all. This means taking into account any employees that may have visual or auditory impairments, as well as catering for neurodiverse employees. 

Closing your skills gap with FDM

FDM is one of the UK’s leading providers of business-ready diverse tech talent. Partnering with FDM can help to fill speciality skills gaps and boost the overall skillset of your workforce. 

If you need real business impact, fast, we can provide a pipeline of talent via our Graduate, Ex-Forces and Returners Programmes. This offers a flexible and effective alternative to upskilling as it allows you to bring in specially-trained professionals to meet new demands or challenges. 

Our consultants receive ongoing development support during their placement with your business, meaning you too, can reap the benefits of the ongoing upskilling that we provide them.

Are you ready to future-proof your teams? Check out our consultant services or get in touch for more information!