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April 15, 2021 | Talent Management Software | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

Reskilling, Upskilling, and Retaining Talent in the Workforce

There's an old saying that “change is the only constant.” That's certainly true in the world of workforce management, where advancements in technology, economic shifts, unexpected world events, and a host of other factors make adaptability and flexibility absolute necessities. The events of 2020 may have put this in sharper focus than usual, but human capital management and financial operations professionals need to be attuned to these factors today and beyond. For those working in industries with traditionally high rates of turnover, being able to upskill and reskill workers to adapt to a changing environment is all the more imperative. Considering that manufacturing employers in the U.S. alone invest an estimated $26.2 billion annually in training new and existing workers, it’s clear that businesses that fail to put effort into developing workers’ skill sets risk falling behind.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling essentially allows an employer to take full advantage of resources that already exist within their current workforce with minimal disruption across different departments or workplace operations. Put simply, upskilling means giving an employee the tools necessary to advance vertically along their current career path. That will often take the shape of training or certification programs that enable a worker to climb to the next rung of their employment ladder.

In a manufacturing setting, for example, that might entail entering an assembly line worker into a training program that will qualify them to operate a more technically advanced piece of equipment, or to supervise the activities of a small group of workers. In healthcare, it could involve enrolling a nursing assistant in a course that enables them to administer specific patient care treatments that require certification under local laws.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling likewise enables an employer to get more value out of their existing workforce by taking a more horizontal and holistic approach. In a reskilling initiative, workers receive new training, experience, and certifications that allow them to move between different roles within an organization. The goal is to instill a more universal skill set across your workforce, moving your employees' skill sets out of their silos and creating a more universal and interchangeable base of workers.

For example, a manufacturing employer might institute a training program that teaches all workers in a particular section how to operate all of the equipment and follow all of the processes used in that area, regardless of each worker's individual duties or job title. A healthcare employer could follow a similar path by requiring all employees in a section to complete the same safety certification programs. The wider the reach of an employer's reskilling efforts, the less chance there is of jobs going undone or shifts being left under-scheduled.

What are the financial advantages of upskilling and reskilling?

Beyond the intangible benefits of having a better trained workforce, making a move toward reskilling or upskilling your employees offers a number of financial benefits for an employer. Some of those potential gains include:

  • More efficient scheduling: A skills gap can cost employers significantly in production delays, workplace errors and accidents, and compliance violations. By expanding individual employees' skill sets, your business can create a better-rounded, more interchangeable workforce. That helps you avoid scheduling pitfalls that arise when not enough workers with necessary skill sets are available.
  • Better regulatory compliance: Especially in heavily regulated industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and construction, a shortage of skilled or certified workers can lead to heavy fines and penalties from federal, state, and local authorities. Having multiple employees in your workforce who are fully credentialed and certified to perform specific tasks, operate equipment, and abide by industry guidelines helps you avoid compliance violations while also maintaining higher standards of safety and quality.
  • Reduced employee turnover: It's a proven fact that it costs a business significantly less to keep an existing employee than it does to recruit, hire, and train a new one. That's another major consideration for employers in high turnover industries, like manufacturers, healthcare employers, and construction firms. Upskilling and reskilling help to improve employee retention rates by keeping workers more engaged and giving them tangible goals and paths to advancement to work toward. While training and certification programs and the salary boosts that often come with them can be a bit of an investment, it will almost always pay off via retaining more skilled employees.
  • Improved workplace morale: A happier workforce is a more productive workforce. By keeping employees engaged and working toward attainable goals that can benefit them as individuals, an employer can help to combat the burnout and tedium that often drags down workplace morale. Putting a larger portion of your workforce on the path to interchangeable skill sets can also help cut down on workplace rivalries and build harmony by putting everyone on a more level playing field.

While every workplace has a different set of needs and expectations, there are few fields where upskilling and reskilling at least some of your employees won't have a long-term benefit. Find out more about the ways a new learning management system and overall talent management software from Ascentis can help close skills gaps, improve compliance, and lower turnover rates.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.