Organizational Wellness

A Secret Ingredient for Long-Term Success: Upskilling

Jun 14, 2023
Last Updated Nov 17, 2023

In order to be successful in today’s fast-paced business world, companies need to carefully invest in their most important resources — their employees. A skilled and knowledgeable workforce can help your business remain competitive and achieve more of your goals. 

There are more ways to obtain such a workforce than you might think. Traditionally, companies may have looked to hire new employees with specific skills or experience to fill their needs. However, the hiring process can be costly and time-consuming. As a more cost-effective alternative, you can invest in your current employees in a tactic called upskilling.

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What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of teaching current employees new skills. The goal is to enhance employees’ abilities, knowledge, and qualifications so they can handle more complex and demanding responsibilities in their current role and have more opportunities to grow within your company. 

This can help you stay competitive in today’s business environment, characterized by constant technological advancements and changes in the landscape of any industry. Companies need to be agile and adaptable to stay competitive. Providing employees with necessary training and development opportunities can enhance their skill sets and help your workforce stay on the cutting edge of your industry. It can also help you save on hiring costs, retain your best talent, and improve overall business success.

What Are the Benefits of Upskilling?

Some of upskilling’s key advantages include, again, quick adaptation to your ever-changing business environment, the ability to save resources and time, boosted productivity, and improved employee engagement and retention.

Being able to adapt quickly to changes in the market is one its most significant benefits. With technological advancements and new market trends emerging regularly, businesses that fail to keep up risk being left behind. Upskilling, particularly digital upskilling, enables employees to stay up-to-date with industry developments and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Furthermore, upskilling can save resources and time for companies. Training existing employees is often more cost-effective than hiring new staff, which can be expensive and time-consuming. The average cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training a new employee is about $4,129, and it takes around 42 days to fill a position, according to the SHRM. By investing in their current employees, businesses can avoid these costs and delays.

Upskilling can also significantly improve productivity. When employees have the ability to perform their jobs effectively, they are more efficient and can produce higher-quality work. This, in turn, leads to better customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and a more competitive advantage in the market.

Finally, upskilling can improve employee engagement and retention. These days, employees are actively looking for companies that provide upskilling opportunities. Over 65% of American employees believe that opportunities for upskilling are an important consideration when evaluating a potential new position, according to a recent Gallup study.

Providing your employees with opportunities to develop their skills and advance in their careers shows them that your company values them and is invested in their professional growth. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty, which ultimately reduces staff turnover.

What Is the Difference Between Reskilling and Upskilling?

While upskilling has many benefits, your company may also want to consider reskilling as a method to encourage employee development. 

Where upskilling focuses on teaching employees new skills relevant to their current position, reskilling is training employees for new roles within the company. Both upskilling and reskilling are crucial for overall business success. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2020, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 in order to stay successful in their current roles. (Especially as AI reshuffles the white collar employment landscape.)

In essence, reskilling is the process of learning new skills for a different job or career path within the same company. It involves training and developing new skills that are different from one's current skill set, which enables workers to transition to a new job or role. Reskilling is essential for workers who wish to remain competitive in today's rapidly changing job market and for organizations to develop the skills required to remain competitive in the face of industry change.

Reskilling is especially valuable in times of organizational restructuring or when your company wants to expand into new areas. Just as with upskilling, you can use it to leverage the existing knowledge and experience of your employees, rather than investing time and resources in hiring new talent. Additionally, it allows the company as a whole to adapt to market changes and remain competitive.

While both reskilling and upskilling are important strategies for helping your company and your employees adapt, you must remember that they are not interchangeable. As a process, reskilling may require more planning and resources than upskilling does, but both approaches can help you maximize your investment in employee development and ensure that your employees are well-positioned for the future.

How Do You Implement an Upskilling Strategy?

If you want to incorporate upskilling and reskilling into your employee training, there are preliminary steps to setting up the process. Since there is more than one right way to approach upskilling, the right strategy for your organization will depend on your industry, your company’s resources and goals, and the needs of both your current and future employees.

As you create your upskilling strategy, be sure to take the time to:

  • Assess current skill sets: The first step in implementing an upskilling strategy is to inventory the current abilities of your employees. Determine what they already do well and what they could do well with more training, as well as what industry-relevant skills are currently beyond their capabilities. This kind of assessment will help identify any gaps in your employees’ current skills and provide a clear picture of what skills they need to develop.
  • Plan for the future: Once any skill gaps have been identified, look ahead and plan for the future. To upskill your employees effectively, you’ll need to determine what abilities will be required in your industry in the future so that your business and your employees can stay competitive and relevant.
  • Set goals: Once the skills your employees will require in the future have been identified, set clear goals for your employees to develop them. Remember, for best results, your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Empower employees: Your workforce needs to feel empowered to focus on their career development. You can provide this through opportunities for growth and development, feedback and support, and culture of learning in your company. Ensure that your employees feel safe asking questions and reaching out for help when they need it.
  • Provide a roadmap: Your business should provide a clear roadmap for upskilling opportunities so that employees will know how to participate. This plan could include different strategies such as offering training programs or organizing mentoring, job rotations, and other opportunities for your employees to learn.
  • Encourage employees to set their own goals: Finally, it's important to encourage employees to set their own goals for upskilling. Work with your employees and determine what they want to gain from these opportunities. This will help them create a sense of ownership and accountability for their own development, motivating them to learn and grow within your company.

As you take these steps to implement reskilling and upskilling strategies in your company, your employees will reap the benefits and provide you with great returns on your investment in them. Your organization will enjoy more productive and engaged employees with more valuable skills that they can put to work for you.

Investing in Your Employees is Strategic Business

Upskilling is an investment in both your employee and your business success. It allows them to expand their skills, supporting professional development and job satisfaction. It simultaneously strengthens your organization’s talent pool, enabling you to remain competitive in a changing landscape. 

Training is only one way to invest in workforce performance. Enhancing employee wellbeing is another important tactic: Nearly 90% of businesses that track spending on workforce wellness see a clear return on investment through increased employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and profitability

Speak with a Wellhub wellbeing specialist today to learn more about leveraging employee wellness programs to advance your organization!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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