How To Upskill Your Employees With Internal Experts  

By Jasmine Long
June 13, 2024
5 min read
Blog
Productivity

Intro

When Star Wars’s Luke Skywalker started training to become a Jedi, he didn’t immediately go to face Darth Vader. Luke first learned how to properly hold a lightsaber and how to get in tune with the Force. Only later, when he needed to step up and deal with the “big bad” of the movie, did he acquire new skills (from master Yoda) that enabled him to defeat Darth Vader. 

Upskilling in the workplace is the same; you just don’t have to deal with Darth Vader. The employees learn new things that enable them to face current challenges. Once new challenges emerge, they need to deepen their skillset to deal with those problems. 

In this article, we’ll examine how upskilling can help your workforce stay relevant and positively impact your company’s bottom line. 

What is upskilling

Upskilling is the process of expanding an employee’s skill set resulting in higher effectiveness at their current role or potentially advancing them along their career path. 

Upskilling involves providing training that deepens the skillset of your people. For example, you could give your team leaders conflict resolution training, which would improve their management and team-leading effectiveness. A company should create a learning culture where upskilling would be a daily occurrence. However, oftentimes organizations overlook upskill due to time and budget restraints.  

According to a Gartner report, 70% of employees report that they’ve not mastered the skills that they need to do their jobs today and in the future. Not only is that a problem for future growth, but it’s stifling growth today. The challenges of today’s workplace will only be compounded by the challenges of tomorrow. Skill shortages will only get worse and your organization could be affected. This is where upskilling can really make a difference and help future-proof your organization. 

Why upskilling matters today 

Development in today’s workplace is crucial for both the employee and the employer. Companies have to constantly invest in teaching their staff new abilities because they want people who can quickly adapt to changes and be productive in the company. 

Employees want to deepen their expertise because they want to stay relevant in the job market. 

Twenty years ago, the market and technology moved at a slower pace so changes weren’t so rapid as they are today. The World Economic Forum’s research from 2017 said that the half-life of skills is just five years (a skill your employee has today will only be 50% valuable in five years). Some skills will have bigger longevity, such as soft skills, but tech skills can perish as quickly as 2.5 years

You need to invest in both of them through upskilling your employees. Soft skills last longer but are harder to teach. On the other hand, hard skills are easier to teach but have a shorter half-life. Both are essential if you want to create a functioning and knowledge-sharing workplace. 

Besides that, today’s business environment has other factors that also emphasize the importance of learning: 

  • Automation
  • AI
  • Remote work
  • Global competition

So companies have to move fast and learn quickly or risk falling behind their competitors and the market.  

The competence gap

You planned out the goals and objectives you want to achieve in the year and your workforce needs to be skillful in executing those plans. With upskilling (and reskilling), you can get your workers from point A (current skillset) to point B (desired skillset that would help them implement the goals). 

Even though today’s market is bigger than ever because of remote work, most companies are still struggling to find the right talent. A recent Manpower Group study stated that 75% of companies are still having trouble finding talent for their essential positions. 

You’re no longer limited by your local talent pool, but you still need to invest in teaching your staff new capabilities so they can fill the competence gap. 

Implementing upskilling in your workplace 

To ensure that your organization stays relevant, you’ll have to invest in helping your staff achieve mastery through training. But that can’t be a one-off thing—  you’ll have to create a learning culture in your organization. 

The speed with which the world moves means that learning in your company should happen almost on a daily basis. A great culture that focuses on continuous learning would create an almost organic development process. 

Some companies have already adapted to this way of upskilling. For example, Mindvalley, a Malaysian company, has Learning Fridays, where employees read books and make presentations about them to their colleagues. That way, when one employee reads a book and presents the insights to the personnel, it’s almost as if all other organizational members read it. 

The leadership team should push to create a learning culture, where all members are effectively learning on a daily basis to stay relevant in today’s market. You don’t need to outsource this process; you can use internal experts to educate your employees. This can be in the form of:

  • The leading salesperson can guide junior team members on mastering sales techniques and securing deals
  • Marketing experts can share their methods for developing high-performing campaign assets. 
  • HR professionals can hold workshops on providing constructive feedback and managing conflicts effectively.

Conclusion

Upskilling isn’t a one-time task; it’s a daily commitment to keeping your employees relevant in the market. Learn how to cultivate a culture of continuous learning and see the positive impact on your bottom line in our FREE eBook “Growing Culture in Distributed Organizations: The Ultimate Guide”!

By Jasmine Long

Jasmine is passionate about harnessing the power of digital marketing to drive social impact. She previously was the Communications Assistant at Jumpstart Refugee Talent, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating employment opportunities for refugees in Canada. She is currently the Marketing Coordinator for Intranet Connections!