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Gaining Competitive Advantage Through Upskilling Employees

Published: Thursday 26th December 2019

The people that your company employs set the most important investment. And there is a much deeper reason to investing in your employees than good feels. Investing in employees is a great opportunity that helps your business build a solid reputation, while boosting your employer brand. The more employers put into this investment, the bigger the payoff. Therefore, in order to see this payoff transforming into strong employee performance, high retention rates, and a competitive advantage, companies need to start regularly upskilling their employees.

Employee training - business card concept

Upskilling VS Reskilling

As an employer, you should understand the importance of upskilling and reskilling, recognising the best methods. In doing so, your business will be able gain the numerous benefits that come with it. Hence a further clarification of the terms and the difference between them is important.

As defined in the Cambridge dictionary, upskilling is the process of learning new skills or of teaching workers new skills, while reskilling is the process of training people to do a different job. This also highlights the difference, since reskilling focuses more on creating new skills so that employees can do a different job and upskilling focuses on improving employees’ skills, so they can work within the same job.

The importance of workforce training

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The value of upskilling is often overlooked by employers. Many perceive it as a risk, thinking that if the employee leaves, the training will have been a waste. However, the irony is that failing to provide upskilling and personal development is in fact one of the reasons why employees leave. Growth is gratifying and motivates talented staff, hence if not provided, people are likely to move on. Moreover, upskilling through language training can come with a lot of benefits. Employees who receive language training have greater confidence and can maximize their professional skills, whether they are working internally or with clients.

In addition, a lack of upskilling links to a high turnover in workplaces, which can be very costly in terms of time and money. In fact, a recent ACAS report shows the average cost of replacing an employee is £30,000, mainly because of how long it takes to get the new candidate up to speed. On the contrary, upskilled employees tend to be able to train new recruits more efficiently and share their knowledge, increasing in turn the overall level of a company’s workforce.

The benefits of workforce upskilling

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Improved productivity – Upskilling gives staff a motivation boost, instilling a sense of confidence in themselves and in their roles. Developing new skills may also enable staff to support and cooperate with others more effectively within the team and communicate your brand more effectively externally. In terms of reskilling, employees gaining the right qualifications can also save your company from higher risk exposure.

Increased employee satisfaction and employee engagement – Bored or lazy employees take on negative attitudes, sloppy work habits and may damage relationships with other employees or customers. Offering training can keep the workforce engaged, preventing this boredom, while offering a sense of gratitude to them and instilling loyalty.

Discussing creative ideas

Improved staff morale – People want to develop, feel challenged and valued at work. Employers failing to support their employees’ growth, will likely lead to them feeling expendable and unchallenged, thus also likely to leave. In order to help your business gain competitive advantage through employee loyalty, upskill training is crucial.

Attract and retain talented candidates – Workplaces that offer development opportunities career progression naturally attract candidates who have constructive attitudes. They tend to constantly push themselves to grow, are productive, talented and easy to work with. These are also the people, who will most likely go above and beyond and listen to others for feedback on how to keep improving. Upskilling or reskilling will convince them to join your company, but most importantly stay.

The drawbacks of workforce upskilling

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Time – Unfortunately, training takes a lot of time and depending on the number of staff it may affect work progress. Training a full team for a full day can be very costly for the company, not just financially but also in terms of productivity.

Cost – Although in-house training is free, advanced training often comes at a cost. External training providers may at times be pricey and although the training might be worth the expense, employers may not have the budget to facilitate it.

However, every company should provide upskill training to expand the talent of their team one way or the other. Training and development can also help with resolving the skill shortage, the UK’s workforce is facing. And with Brexit around the corner this issue is likely to worsen, so investing in upskilling may have never been more crucial.

If you are on the lookout for top quality candidates, register on Zoek and kick-start your recruitment process TODAY!

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