Upskilling your workforce is a vital part of ensuring the future and viability of your organisation. It’s also one of the most positive steps that you can take to ensure you retain experienced, valuable and contended team members and keep staff morale high.

In this article we’ll explore the what, why and how of upskilling, and examine how it can boost staff retention, so that you can make informed decisions that best suit your team and your organisation.

With the costs of goods, materials and services spiralling upwards in a seemingly unending trajectory, investing time and resources in upskilling your current team might feel unlikely at best and impossible at worst.  However, this is exactly the time when you should be looking into how you can support your staff and future-proof your business through upskilling. You might be surprised at just how easy and effective it can be to provide upskilling opportunities to suit a wide range of needs, skills and abilities.

What is upskilling and why is it important?

Upskilling is a way of addressing knowledge gaps or emerging needs within your current team and providing courses and training that elevate the skills base of your staff. It could be training your employees in mindfulness and wellbeing in the workplace or more structured technical courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications.

Upskilling also includes refreshing and updating any existing skills that your staff may currently have, and can include everything from office management and computer know-how to digital marketing, social media planning and even conflict resolution.

In many sectors, the process of continually updating knowledge and practical skills is essential due to the rapidly evolving nature of the business landscape.

You can find a helpful article here that looks at all the benefits of upskilling your team.

How can upskilling help my business to retain great staff?

The cost of replacing staff and/or recruiting new team members can be around 6 to 9 months of the salary for that particular role. This is a huge chunk of money that could almost certainly be spent more effectively elsewhere. Not to mention the time it takes to advertise, review CVs and interview prospective candidates.

To avoid this kind of outlay, retaining valuable and experienced staff should be of primary importance to any type of business and upskilling is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Upskilling allows you to build on the existing knowledge and abilities held by your staff. It offers huge positive outcomes in both the strength of your company to move with the evolving state of business and commerce and most importantly it shows your staff that they are valued.

Offering any opportunity to build their portfolio of skills demonstrates to your team members that as a company, you care about their career. It shows that you want to invest in their future development as well as giving them the right tools and knowledge to undertake their current role effectively.

Recognising your concerns

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Lots of employers have genuine concerns that they will spend a great deal of time and money investing in employees only to make that staff member highly attractive in an increasingly competitive employment market. The statement “I’ll invest in someone to upskill and improve, only for them to move on straightaway” is one we’ve heard more than once.

We absolutely understand this worry but in fact, more often than not, we find the exact opposite is true. In many cases, employees leave because their future within the company is either unclear in terms of progression or shows no opportunity for growth. Using a simple system of career progression and skill development, tailored to the needs of each member of staff, you’ll not only boost your productivity you’ll also retain a happy, well-trained and motivated team who are committed and supportive of your company goals.

Inevitably staff move on for a diverse range of reasons. Some you can anticipate and mitigate and others, like an individual relocating, really are beyond your control. As standard, you should have policies in place to protect and safeguard health and well-being as a way of supporting and retaining great team members. If you don’t, then now is definitely the time to start. We can match your needs with courses that include everything from CMI management training and mentoring to first aid for mental health.

With regards to workplace morale and job satisfaction, two vital components in retaining staff, upskilling offers a huge return on investment. Fundamentally, what upskilling your workforce does is show them how important they are within the framework of your company. It shows that you recognise each individual and understand what their career goals are. It makes it clear that your business values their input, their knowledge and experience and that you want them to fulfil their professional potential.

It also has the additional bonus of enhancing the reputation of your business in the eyes of prospective employees. News travels fast and people looking for their next career step place a great deal of value in the opinions and experiences of others. When the word gets out that your company is one that appreciates and invests in its staff and that individual team members are encouraged to reach for their career goals with the company’s support, you’ll have no shortage of excellent candidates for your next job vacancy.

Next steps

Through SMART SKILLS you can access a diverse and exciting selection of courses, qualifications and development programmes which are all FULLY FUNDED.  The investment provided by the European Social Fund of £3.5million is coming to a close in Summer 2023, but there is still time to apply and benefit from training funded through the scheme.

The best thing you can do to get started is contact our friendly and experienced Skills Advisers to chat through your specific needs.   Every business is different and every team member is unique. This is why we specialise in matching the right training solutions to your company’s requirements.