Upskilling your workforce is essential for maintaining a successful organization. The fast development of new technologies is leaving businesses with major skills gaps which could lead to them falling behind the competition. By prioritizing upskilling, your organization can close existing skills gaps and prevent new ones by staying up to date with the latest developments. 

If your organization is planning to implement a new training and development strategy, it's important to do it right to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Here are five important do's and don'ts to keep in mind when upskilling your workforce.

In today's fast-paced business environment, upskilling your workforce is no longer an option, but a necessity. With the rapid development of new technologies, businesses are at risk of falling behind the competition if they fail to close existing skills gaps and prevent new ones. By prioritizing upskilling, your organization can stay up to date with the latest developments and ensure that your workforce is equipped with the necessary skills to drive business success.


1. Create personalised development plans

A lack of upskilling opportunities is a major reason why people don't stay loyal to their employer. 94% of people stay with their employer longer if there are opportunities for learning and development. With this in mind, it's important to approach upskilling from each employee's personal perspective. Invest the time in creating personalised development plans for each team member. Doing so will acknowledge that you value each individual's motivation to progress and show them that you're willing to support them.

Personalised development plans also help you understand the unique role of each employee and how to make them as effective as possible in that role. This allows you to assign training to each individual as and when it's appropriate so you can make better use of your resources. Personalised plans also help you to set goals and track the progress of each employee to determine the efficacy of your training efforts.

To provide meaningful and impactful upskilling opportunities, it is essential to approach them from the perspective of each employee's personal and professional goals. A one-size-fits-all approach to upskilling may not work effectively, as different employees have different aspirations, motivations, and learning styles.


2. Don't make upskilling a one-time event

If you notice a sore lack of a specific skill set in your workforce, it can be tempting to organise training to fill the skills gap and leave it at that. The problem with this is that your organisation will find itself continually playing catchup whenever it identifies a skills gap. Instead, strive to continually improve your workforce's skill sets so your organisation can stay up to date with the latest technology or trends in your industry.

When you create a culture of training and learning, you create a workforce that is familiar with the process of acquiring skills and capable of adapting and developing on the job. Employees are more likely to remain motivated when they can see themselves continually gaining new skills and strengths. Plus, teams become more flexible, curious and innovative when they're encouraged to learn and grow on an ongoing basis.

By making upskilling an ongoing part of your organisation's culture, you can also reduce the risk of losing employees to other companies who offer better development opportunities. A continuous learning environment can help create a more loyal and motivated workforce that sees their employer as invested in their personal and professional growth.

To achieve this, consider setting up regular training sessions or workshops that cover a range of skills, both hard and soft. Utilise both internal and external resources to give your employees access to a variety of training options. Also, make sure to incorporate feedback from employees to ensure that the training is relevant and helpful to their individual development.

Remember, upskilling is not a one-time event but a continuous process that requires investment and commitment from both the employer and the employee. By adopting a proactive approach to upskilling, you can create a workforce that is more adaptable, productive, and loyal to your organisation.


3. Create a mentorship system

Mentorship is the perfect way to make the most of training programs because it helps employees put into action the new skills they've learned. By shadowing or taking support from a more experienced colleague, employees can gain confidence in their abilities and keep learning long after their training has ended. Mentors can also help their mentees to stay on top of the latest developments in their industry which can motivate mentees to continually learn and develop.

Employees tend to feel more empowered in their personal development when they're mentored because the social support is valuable in building their confidence. Mentoring can also help team members identify and correct gaps in their knowledge, which leads to them becoming more effective in their roles. Research has found that mentees are more productive, better at managing time and more likely to stay in their organisation. There are big benefits for mentors, too. People who mentor are more likely to feel personally fulfilled in their role. Plus, the process of mentoring helps them develop staff management and coaching skills.

Incorporating a mentorship system into your upskilling strategy can have numerous benefits for both employees and the organisation as a whole. Not only can mentors help their mentees put their new skills into practice, but they can also provide ongoing guidance and support as employees continue to develop their abilities.

Mentorship can also play a crucial role in building a culture of learning and development within the organisation. When employees see that their colleagues are actively engaged in personal and professional growth, they are more likely to feel inspired to do the same. Furthermore, mentoring relationships can help to foster a sense of community within the workplace, which can lead to increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.

In order to create an effective mentorship system, it's important to choose mentors who have the necessary skills and experience to provide valuable guidance to their mentees. Mentors should be encouraged to take an active role in helping their mentees set goals, develop action plans, and monitor their progress over time. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help to ensure that both mentors and mentees are getting the most out of the relationship.

Overall, incorporating mentorship into your upskilling strategy can help to create a culture of learning and development within your organisation, which can lead to numerous benefits for both employees and the company as a whole. By providing employees with the resources and support they need to continue to grow and develop, you can create a more engaged and productive workforce that is better equipped to stay competitive in an ever-changing business landscape.


4. Don't make employees train on their own time

Busy team members can feel overwhelmed by the prospect of upskilling as they wonder how they'll find time to undergo training while fulfilling their usual duties. They might be reluctant to engage if they feel their work will suffer and they'll be reprimanded for it. They could refuse to engage at all if pressured to undergo training in their own time outside of work. It's vital that you make it clear that training can be completed during their normal work hours. Talk to team members about the impact training will have on their workload so you can arrange for them to receive additional support where necessary.

It's also a good idea to incentivise employees to complete training. You could offer vouchers, gift cards or bonuses after completion of each training event. If you're implementing a company-wide system of ongoing upskilling, you could incentivise by offering salary increases. Perhaps team members can move through salary bands as they develop new core skills that allow them to take on additional or more complex duties. Salary bands are a great way to help motivate employees to develop professionally and remain open to opportunities for training.

Additionally, it's important to communicate to your team that investing in their development is a top priority for the organisation. When team members see that their employer values their growth and development, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged at work. Providing opportunities for upskilling and career growth can also be a powerful retention tool. Employees who feel supported and invested in are more likely to stay with their organisation long term.

Finally, it's important to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your upskilling program. Track the progress of your team members, and identify areas where they have grown and where they may still need improvement. Gather feedback from your team members about their training experience, and use this information to refine and improve your training programs. This will help ensure that your upskilling initiatives are successful and beneficial for both your team members and your organisation as a whole.


5. Take a flexible approach to training

If you want employees to be enthusiastic about upskilling, make the training process as easy and accessible as possible. The more convenient it is for employees to train, the more engaged they'll be with the learning material. Training methods have transformed over the last few decades with the help of digital technology, so it's easier than ever to deliver training remotely and flexibly.

Unless employees have to learn a practical skill and get hands-on with their training, look for remote training sessions. Live remote training requires employees to log on to their computers at a set time, but the benefit is that they can ask questions and interact with the trainer in real time. Self-paced training lacks this interactive element, but it gives employees flexibility to train at a time and pace that suits them and their workload. If training involves both practical and classroom learning, look for hybrid learning opportunities which involve a combination of in-person and remote sessions.

Another way to take a flexible approach to training is to offer microlearning opportunities. Microlearning involves breaking down a training course into smaller, bite-sized modules that can be completed quickly and easily. This is a great option for employees who don't have a lot of spare time but want to fit in some training during their workday. Microlearning can be delivered through a variety of mediums, including video, audio, and text-based content, making it accessible to different learning styles.

It's also important to be flexible with the content of your training. Not all employees will need to learn the same skills or receive the same training. Customise training plans for each employee based on their individual needs and the needs of the organisation. This will help ensure that each employee is getting the most out of their training and is equipped with the skills they need to excel in their role.

Finally, make sure to regularly review and update your training programs to keep up with the changing needs of your organisation and the latest developments in your industry. This will help ensure that your employees are receiving the most relevant and up-to-date training.


Keep employee satisfaction at the forefront of your upskilling plan

The key to successfully upskilling your workforce is to keep employee satisfaction in mind. When team members are enthusiastic and highly engaged with the training process, they remain motivated to continually develop their skill set and support your organization's growth.