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3 Ways that UPskilling is an Effective Alternative to DOWNsizing.

September 3, 2020 at 6:45 AM

Winning companies consistently show similar traits in their operations that contribute to success. Key among them is the implementation of a strong learning culture. Even in times of crisis or a downturn in the economy, these organizations recognize the importance of upskilling their workforce to keep existing talent relevant and their companies competitive.

Below we examine three ways upskilling keeps an organization viable, even in economically challenging times.

1. Upskilling keeps your organization ahead of the technology curve.

Advancements in digital technology are taking place faster than ever but many companies still struggle to meet the challenge. Organizations unwilling to explore or adapt eventually find themselves at a disadvantage. This can result in revenue loss which necessitates reductions in personnel. Keeping your talent up-to-date with technological advancements through continual education and training is not optional but required to ensure your organization remains competitive and positioned for future growth.

How you introduce technology into your company is also important. Your employees are aware that digital advances can be an incredible way to make their work more effective; they also know that disruptions such as automation or artificial intelligence can render their position obsolete. This sentiment is especially heightened during times of economic uncertainty. Whenever employee retention is possible, investing in upskilling not only improves the skills of your workforce, it also shows that they are valued team members, which in turn boosts morale and productivity.

2. Upskilling is an effective employee retention strategy.

With the average cost to onboard a new employee hovering around $4,000 per hire, plus the months and years of knowledge that a person accumulates post-hire, it makes sense to retain valuable talent whenever possible. According to a recent Gallup report organizations lose $1 trillion dollars annually to employee turnover, with 40% of workers leaving within the first year. One of the most frequently cited reasons for high turnovers is lack of adequate training.

Organizations that invest in learning and development send a clear message to employees that they are valued and that the company is deeply invested in their career path. In a recent PwC survey, employees consistently value workplace training and opportunities for career advancement over financial incentives.

Upskilling also works as a strategy to prevent lay-offs. If a corporation is considering workforce reductions with an intention to rehire at a later date, it may be more cost effective to simply keep existing talent in place. Through upskilling, companies save time and money on having to integrate new hires down the road.

Lastly, organizations that invest in learning and development are often highlighted as a “best place to work”. Advertising such programs aids in attracting and retaining high-value employees since it promotes the organizations dedication to work-life balance.

3. Upskilling improves team cohesion and team interoperability.

Dysfunctional corporate culture is rife with examples of territorial behavior and departments acting as siloed divisions within the greater organization. Such attitudes are toxic to the work environment and counterproductive to the overall operations of a company. This of course can (and does) have a negative effect on profitability and growth. It also costs an organization by contributing to employee turnover.

Upskilling via cross-department workplace mentoring has proven to be highly beneficial, not only for increasing the value of existing talent, but for fostering a more empathetic and cooperative culture. As the result of a workplace mentoring program employees are more apt to function as a team and to have less dissonance about what takes place in roles and departments outside their own.

Workplace mentoring has also proven to increase overall employee satisfaction rates for both trainees and mentors and to boost morale and organizational loyalty.

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Deb Volzer

Written by Deb Volzer

Dr. Debra Volzer is Sr. Director of State and Workforce Development for Wiley Education Services. Her focus is to identify, engage and secure innovative learning partners interested in closing the skills gap. Her efforts work collaboratively with Industry and Learning Partners to identify and align models and solutions that increase learner success and streamline pathways to skills attainment. In this role she works to identify and align a shared vision and promotes collaboration of next-generation education solutions. Prior to joining Wiley, Volzer worked with corporations including Pearson North America, Barnes and Noble Education and Community College Futures Assembly and held administrative and teaching positions at the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio Learning Network, the Ohio State University, Franklin University and Ohio Dominican. Volzer holds degree from the University of Kansas, Yale University and the Ohio State University.