In recent months, disruptive changes have been afoot as a result of COVID-19 and the global pandemic, characterised by economic slumps and the novelty of a largely remote workforce returning to business. This dramatic change, especially regarding the workforce, has many businesses reviewing and revisiting the availability of skills across their teams. As a response, and partly out of urgency, many managers are now planning to upskill and share expertise within their business as a means to economically benefit their operation.
Upskilling, or the acquisition of new expertise, is seen by many as a new kind of resilience against the mass disruptions caused by the pandemic – knowledge, after all, is powerful. The goal of upskilling staff can be supported as either a strategy, a policy, or as a cultural shift. The trouble with skills is the lack of permanence because it describes a dynamic set of expertise that requires training, development and updating. Essentially, a skillset is like a muscle that can strengthen or weaken depending on how often you use it.
Upskilling a workforce, however, isn’t without its difficulties. An astonishing 74% of CEOs are still concerned at a lack of availability of the right skills in their companies according to PWC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey. Ultimately, skill availability is about creating opportunities to learn and develop skills in the workplace. When you’re trying to remain competitively relevant and imbue your culture and business with the right skillsets, it helps to plan, research and develop strategy. Here are five key ways to upskill your team and win on employee engagement.
Reflect, Grow, Develop (With Your Team)
Lifelong learning is a great goal but no small feat.
As a manager, try encouraging learning outside of training courses but in the everyday life of the office. This could, for example, happen in routine interactions with peers, or through meetings, or regular communication. The best way to upskill is to ensure that expertise is constantly being shared – collaboration, for example, can allow skills to flow in the workforce through creative exchanges between peers.
Get your team and your business as a whole to reflect often on its key takeaways and take next steps to grow bigger and better. A proactive spirit and an enthusiastic commitment can help nurture goals and allow the entire team to learn and develop. But your team has to be willing to embrace all steps in learning – from refection to growth.
Learning shouldn’t end. In fact, skill retention is much more effective for businesses than trying to constantly introduce new expertise. As previously mentioned, skills remain only sharp and effective when employees are willing to constantly work on them.
Upskilling is often cited as a way to shrink skills gaps in a business. However, retention of those skills is key in ensuring that any upskilling strategy is worthwhile – especially if the longevity of skills and expertise is to be nurtured is on the shorter side. The common mistake is that compensation is the best motivation for the uptake of new skills and the retention of old ones. Rather, continuous L&D opportunities are the most meaningful way to usher in an effective skills-base in your team.
Include HR In Your Goal-Setting
One of the surest ways of securing an upskilling culture is to firm it up and document it behind policy. Upskilling should be goal-posted so identifying the kinds of expertise that need to flourish in your business is a useful exercise. Then, after carefully considering and reflecting on your ideal target skills, use policy to ensure L&D is monitored and applied to the workforce and even goal-posted.
Try framing skills with goals and timelines for reference, for example building a company compensation and benefits scheme that nurtures upskilling and career development.
Apply New Skills (Don’t Just Learn Them)
Acquiring new skills through training isn’t anything new. The hard part is actually enabling these skills to be applied in everyday work-related tasks. This can seem, at first, difficult to facilitate. Treat upskilling like an investment: equip teams with training and other learning opportunities but ask them to action their new skills in their daily work life. Naturally as a result, your teams will improve and develop; embracing new skills to enhance their work output.
Build A Culture Of Learning
After a training session give the attending employees’ a chance to reflect on the key takeaways and allow them space to supply feedback into the process. This process, quite simply, is about building up a learning culture.
Learning becomes continuous when you build a culture that nurtures opportunities for development. Culture refers to the spirit of your team, its morale, just as much as it indicates its personality and character. If that appeals professionally to a strong goal of betterment through learning, then your business will benefit long into the future from skill sharing and engaged employees.
Author: The article was written by Steven Cox, Chief Evangelist at IRIS HR, a leading international HR consultancy, specialising in the support of global HR and resourcing from large corporations through to entrepreneurial start-ups.
Photo Credits: Pixabay