Upskilling Your Teams to Minimize the Talent Gap

upskilling your talent

People flit from job to job. Employers downsize at the drop of a hat. New recruits don’t come equipped with well-rounded skill sets. Such common complaints come from all angles, affecting employee retention, career interest, longevity and position.

To minimize the talent gap many companies and organizations experience, innovative leaders are more readily looking to upskill their people, a concept and practice offering multiple benefits to employers, employees and teams alike.

Optimize the opportunity

To maximize upskilling opportunities requires trust, accountability and flexibility – and buy-in from all key stakeholders. Employers must value their people enough to invest in them beyond salaries and benefits. Employees must value learning new skills and taking on challenges that might seem daunting at first glance. Team members must value sharing knowledge and skills with one another, and view each project as a common goal rather than a chance for just one person to shine. These elements might require a paradigm shift within certain companies but can easily become part of best practices for many if not all.

Benefits abound!

There are many benefits to spending resources training current employees in learning new skills, including:
-saving money and time on searching and advertising for new hires as well as the hiring, onboarding and training processes to replace those who have left – especially on company culture, a familiar topic to current employees.
-boosting morale – by offering more opportunities for responsibility and accountability, most people rise to the occasion and are more motivated to perform.
-capitalizing on current brainpower – when people are challenged to share what they know with others in their work groups, team results are often more productive than those without such an exchange.

Ready to move forward? 

You’ve already got buy-in from your leadership team, and your team members are eager to learn more and teach others what they know. First hurdle cleared. When thinking about implementing upskilling opportunities in your workplace, keep the following important elements in mind:

-People need time to learn new tricks. Provide space within the workday/week for your employees to engage with new material.
-Learning programs don’t have to be expensive, robust online endeavors (but they certainly could be!). Why not start with skillshare lunch or happy hour sessions and invite “on it” people to share what they know within 30-45 minutes and host open discussion forums for another 15-30 minutes? It’s an easy way to allow others to showcase what they know, and garner interest in new skills learned from others.
-Remember how we all liked receiving those gold star stickers from our teachers? Ask employees to create personal skills inventories to gauge who could teach others skills necessary for smart moves within the company. They’ll also be able to create targeted, personalized learning (or work or development) plans from this vantage point. Employees can monitor their own progress and managers can offer recognition for reaching milestones.
-Develop additional microlearning opportunities for employees and teams. Delivering new information in small bursts is best!
-Set up mentoring partners. Matching subject matter experts with those eager to learn targeted skills is a terrific way to spark engaged training environments. Partners can co-create personal development plans.
-Provide resources for more formalized training programs. Both virtual and actual classroom courses and certifications are readily available on a variety of subjects and skills. Even if your company isn’t offering its own online learning programs, you can share existing platforms with your teams targeted towards needed skills and interests.

There are plenty of ways to boost skills building within your company. Just look to the people and resources that are already in place to make the most of your existing masterminds and develop new experts.

ABOUT Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.