2021-05-26

Up-skilling your workforce to create a sustainable business

Drake Editorial Team

The rapid growth of new technology offers many opportunities for businesses, including the chance to expand, as well as increase productivity and the value provided to customers. However, the fast rate of progress in both back and front-office automation can create challenges, such as ensuring your staff have the new skills required to work within a changing environment. 

According to Bill Pelster of Deloitte Consulting LLP, the ability of a company to adapt and retrain staff to fill gaps has become a “business imperative”. Those businesses that do not invest in their workforce, or who allocate insufficient resources to retraining, are in danger of being left behind as technological advances sweep the business world. Companies need to be flexible in order to take advantage of a changing environment, and the benefits go well beyond the immediate financial returns.

Filling the gaps

Inevitably, the fast pace of technological development has meant companies have to work hard to fill the skill-gap to avoid being left behind. Otherwise, productivity gains may be reduced or delayed because of a lack of available expertise.

Up-skilling and re-skilling the company’s workforce when required means that any knowledge gaps are filled quickly and effectively by trusted staff. In fact, up-skilling a company’s own workforce can be one of the smartest and most cost-effective methods for filling any technological skills shortage. Labour costs are already between 30 and 70 percent of any company’s total expenses, so it makes sense to continue to invest in such a key asset, especially as these people already understand the goals, aims and structure of your company.

Boosting staff morale and building loyalty

Staff turnover will be reduced and morale lifted by ensuring you create a supportive culture that focuses on up-skilling your existing workforce. According to Forbes, some of the top reasons why employees leave a company is if they are not being challenged, or given opportunities for professional development. Staff will be more likely to follow their career paths without leaving their current place of employment if they see that management willing to invest in their future. Actively focusing on up-skilling will therefore build team loyalty.

While some employees will be more willing than others to learn new skills, making paths of up-skilling available to all staff will help ensure the benefits are equally spread among everyone. This will allow individuals to choose the direction of their career path, learn at their own pace and feel happier and more fulfilled in the workplace. 

Allowing companies to recruit the best candidates

By showing a willingness to invest in people, a business will become a more desirable place to work, thereby increasing its ability to attract top talent in today’s candidate-tight market. Investment in employees, therefore, becomes an excellent selling point for the company.

Increasing customer satisfaction

Another benefit of investing in retraining will be creating a happier workforce. This will have a knock-on effect on customer satisfaction, as customers tend to receive better service when they work with staff who are not only better trained but also more content in their jobs.

According to Christian Gottswinter, Head of Central Business Excellence at Siemens, management needs to be ready to employ changes as a result of technological advancement. Additionally, employees should be willing to be responsive and act as the “backbone” of this change. To do so, employees need to have confidence in their job environment to support management up-skilling initiatives.

Technology innovations promise productivity benefits for companies, and value benefits for the end client or consumer, but only if these businesses also focus on up-skilling their employees.

Investing in up-skilling — or re-skilling — by creates a more agile and responsive workforce, building a stronger, more sustainable future for both employees and for their business.

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