Invest in people change

In the current climate of high employment costs, upskilling staff can introduce greater business efficiency, productivity and retention rates. To keep up with changing demands, it’s reported that businesses should aim to provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities to 73 per cent of workers by 2025. However, whilst improving staff capabilities is a growing trend, businesses must undertake several steps before investing in people change.

1. Consider the cost of people change

Recruitment can be an expensive process. Businesses must cover the cost of a new employee’s salary, and equipment, as well as any recruiter fees, software licenses and overheads for office space.

Typically, investing in upskilling is a cheaper alternative. However it will still require businesses to assess the most suitable route from both personal and financial perspectives. For example, could training be delivered internally by experienced team leaders? Is there scope for junior members to flex their muscles in new areas?

Asking these questions before committing to expensive training programmes can help to encourage skills change and development for less.

2. Listen to your people

People improvements require businesses to listen to individual goals. A report from IBM revealed that 84 per cent of employees received the training they needed in the best-performing organisations. This is compared to just 16 per cent in the worst performers.

An assessment of the skills employees want to build up, and their vision for their career, should therefore be married up with a review of the business’ skills gaps to achieve high levels of performance. Whilst it’s not always possible to satisfy employee ambitions every time, using personal goals to inform decisions on upskilling investment could help to drive morale, productivity and positive business change.

3. Adopt a holistic approach to change

Upskilling is a major change journey and should therefore be approached holistically. Whilst it’s essential to understand what people want from their career, leaders must also assess each job role, the associated responsibilities and the skills gaps that exist in the business.

Mapping this information will help to pinpoint the people, teams or departments that have capacity or a strong desire to take on additional training and duties. Understanding the bigger skills picture will enable people investments that are better calculated and encourage positive business change.

4. Roll out training plans

Once a decision has been made to invest in upskilling, early preparation is key for success. Rolling out annual training plans are a must to keep programmes on course. These could be mandatory refresher training for essential company software or workshops that encourage uptake of new soft or hard skills. Training plans are often best prepared in quieter periods such as December and January which will help kickstart the new year on the right track.

At a time when businesses face a number of cost challenges, investing in existing talent is often the smartest solution. Employee turnover is expensive, and upskilling provides a means of maximising in-house expertise . Similarly, it will  prompt a more loyal and high-performing workforce.