Employees who don’t feel confident in their skills are less productive and more stressed, taking a toll on their overall mental health. Providing opportunities for employees to learn new skills or advance existing talents—otherwise known as “upskilling”—is critical to keep your workforce engaged, productive, and happy.
Employees prioritize individual growth.
A survey conducted this year found that 65% of workers consider upskilling opportunities to be very important when evaluating a potential new job. Among the more than 15,000 U.S. adults who responded, 48% said they would switch to a new job if it offered skill training programs.
For employers, the value of upskilling is not just about keeping employees engaged, it’s also about keeping them around. When debating whether or not to remain at their current job, 61% of employees consider upskilling to be an “extremely” or “very” important deciding factor.
In order to build upskilling into your employee wellness strategy, here’s what you need to know:
Collaboration is key.
The majority of U.S. workers want to update their skills, but the only way to find out what they want to learn is by asking them. Gather employee feedback to determine which upskilling programs would serve the needs of your organization. Involving employees in the development of training programs gives them a sense of ownership over their personal growth, making them more engaged and invested in the learning experience.
Reward employees for their growth.
Employees who invest their time and energy in learning new skills but don’t receive any recognition for their hard work will feel demoralized. While a pay increase is one way to reward employees, career mobility is another. Providing opportunities for employees to work on new projects and/or contribute in other departments demonstrates that your organization is invested in their long-term growth. Plus, it gives employees a chance to strengthen their new skills and test out practical applications.
Be open to possibilities.
There are so many ways for employees to learn new skills outside of formal courses or workshops. YouTube videos, podcasts, and articles can all be valuable resources for career development. Leaders should empower employees to seek out learning experiences in non-traditional places. Remaining open to possibilities breeds innovation, keeps employees engaged, and is often the most cost-effective option.
Build growth into your culture.
Upskilling is an ongoing process, not an isolated event. The “forgetting curve,” a term coined by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, says that we forget 90% of what we learn within one month of learning it. That is, unless we regularly reinforce the knowledge through practice. Employees and their managers should constantly be looking for ways to flex their new skills.
Continuous learning doesn’t mean that employees are constantly sitting in training sessions and hardly ever working. It means that employees are regularly given chances to apply what they have learned to their work. Upskilling helps employees grow to keep your organization growing too.
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