Many business owners agree upskilling is great for team morale and staff retention. Professional development on your team positively affects business success and future opportunities but it is easy to overlook when you’re busy and constantly focused on bottomline. Combined with other barriers, such as lack of time and fear of staff leaving the business, not making time for staff development can lead to missed opportunities for future growth. Let’s take a look at the benefits of upskilling staff, what a training program involves and why you should prioritize staff development in your business.
What is Upskilling?
It can be difficult to keep employee engagement high with any business as complacency and routine can spawn autopilot mode for many. Staff then feel unmotivated to think outside the box. Which is one of the many reasons why focusing on their training and career development helps employees feel more engaged and should be priority for your business.
But what does the term upskilling actually mean?
Upskilling means putting staff through progressive learning and training programs in order to advance their skills. This in turn aids staff with their own career progression and opens new doors as employees learn new skills, as well as helping your business grow by filling in technical gaps among the team.
The Importance of Investing in The Development of Your Team
Reports show that 60% of CEOs endorse strong upskilling programs because they improve company culture. It provides added job security for staff and helps them build up their repertoire of knowledge. Plus, it means you can invest in your existing staff without the hassle of having to employ someone from outside the business to fill knowledge gaps. Furthermore, there are multiple benefits of upskilling staff including the ability for staff to take on more responsibility, improved problem solving, better quality of work, ability to attract new talent and a host of others which are detailed below.
The Benefits of Upskilling your Staff
Now, more than ever, creating opportunities for your staff should be seen as creating opportunities for your business. Why? It all stems from happy staff. TINYpulse found that staff who feel they’re progressing personally and professionally in their careers are 20% more likely to stay at a business after one year. In our recent report, 34% of trade businesses cited retaining staff as a top priority for 2023. Investing in upskilling and minimizing barriers to your workers gaining new skills and qualifications will not only help staff stay engaged but will also create a positive working environment. Let’s take a look at further benefits of staff upskilling.
Staff who are trained in new skills can take on new tasks and responsibilities
This sounds like a no-brainer, however giving staff the opportunity to develop and grow professionally is often an afterthought. Once staff have new strings to add to their bow in the workplace, they can take on new responsibilities and challenges, keeping them engaged. It also helps you fill any gaps with additional responsibilities that would otherwise need to be filled from an external source.
Improved problem-solving and decision-making abilities
Nobody wants an insecure workforce. Upskilling staff increases their confidence on the job. An increase in their own personal abilities increases productivity enabling staff to work more efficiently and effectively. This will in turn help your staff with problem-solving and their decision-making abilities. For example, an inability to understand new technology used by the business leaves staff feeling inadequate and deflated. If you invest in further digital skills training and upskilling your staff, they become more confident at work and therefore make better informed decisions on the job.
Higher quality work leads to happy customers
The trade industry, like many others, relies on customer satisfaction (among other factors) for repeat business and a steady stream of income. By prioritizing staff upskilling you can provide teams with tools to complete high quality, effective work. This also results in higher profit margins as the quality of work increases. The upskilling of staff and investing in their learning and development opens vast opportunities for more complex work. This helps your bottom line and keeps your business account in the green!
Growth & development opportunities can increase job satisfaction
Change in the workplace can be daunting from a staff perspective, but feeling content and valued at work is also very important to your team. So as a business owner, you want to do everything possible to keep your workforce happy, which is another benefit of upskilling staff. Whatever the size of your business it’s very likely you’ve got a diverse set of staff when it comes to length of service. This can be a huge factor as to why certain staff may feel complacent or stale in their roles. Perhaps Sally from accounts has reached a plateau in her finance career and wants to expand her knowledge base and skillset. Investing in a training program and dedicating time to coach Sally one on one can give her that boost in job satisfaction. This also makes having a positive attitude in the workplace much easier.
Develop a competitive advantage
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, especially in business. Finding the perfect thing that gives you a competitive edge against others in your area can be tedious and time consuming. However, if you focus on staff upskilling you’re not only filling any technical knowledge gaps, but potentially getting a one-up on the competition. By expanding the quality and options of service provided by your business it’s very likely you’ll cast a wider service net and build a bigger customer base. Are there specific services that you can provide that are not commonly offered by other trade businesses? If so, capitalize on that gap in the market. Word of mouth travels fast and before you know it customers will share the good news and you reap the benefits of new business.
How to Upskill your Workforce
To reap the benefits of upskilling staff, figure out a method of attack first. Let’s talk about some of the things you’ll need to think about when creating a plan:
- Identify areas for improvement within a team
- Create a budget
- Encourage staff to share their own knowledge and skills with others
Identify areas for improvement or gaps in your team’s skills
If you think about your company goals and visions for the future, are there any milestones you’ve yet to achieve? What’s holding you back? One of the things that can be a sticking point are individual skills and abilities between teams. Identify skill gaps and work towards upskilling staff within those areas. The business will benefit from staff having additional skillsets and the individuals have the opportunity to expand. For example, you may want to focus on an area of the business that could provide an additional or premium rate service by upskilling a specific team's abilities.
Create a plan and allocate resources toward training and development
Once you’ve identified where you can improve, create a plan that details how to implement an upskilling process. Goals and outcomes must be clear so employees can monitor their own progress. For example, a project management software provides the ability to create tasks, with clear goals outlined in a checklist fashion. Using this to monitor staff progress in upskilling provides transparency both for employer and employee. If you’re upskilling staff to reach a business goal and that goal is achieved, you can deem your upskilling process a success.
Encourage staff to share their knowledge and skills
Nobody likes a know-it-all. But in business, the more you know, the better. Especially when focusing on upskilling staff within a single team. Encourage the workforce to share their knowledge and skillsets. This helps individuals build confidence to help achieve your business goals faster.
Look for external training opportunities such as workshops, seminars and online courses
One of the easiest ways to upskill staff is to invite them to attend external events or trainings. External courses can be a great solution to provide key members of your team the opportunity to bring newfound skills to your business. There will be courses aimed at specific skill sets or training programs that last for varying lengths of time, ranging from one day to a series of weeks.
When you start seeing the benefits of upskilling staff, you’ll wonder why you didn’t adopt the process sooner. Upskilling allows you to empower and embolden your workforce while growing your business. In order to create a great company culture and foster a diverse and robust team, you have to put the time and effort into motivating and energizing your staff.