Why Reskilling is Key to Employee Engagement And Retention

Reskilling employees helps retain top talent, teaching existing employees skills to move into different areas of the business.

November 30, 2023
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“Reskilling” has become something of a buzzword in recent years as both businesses and workers struggle to adapt to a changing landscape. But what does it mean?

Reskilling is a key strategy for improving employee engagement and retention - benefiting employees and organizations alike. This article explores what exactly reskilling is and how it can benefit your business. 

What is reskilling? 

Reskilling is a process whereby employees learn new skills in order to move into a different job role within an organization. It is similar to upskilling, but they do not mean the same thing. Upskilling focuses on adding to an existing skill set within a role.

Reskilling, on the other hand, is about learning the new skills needed for an entirely different job. This may be because the employee’s previous role has become irrelevant due to structural changes or technological advances. Rather than firing said employee and hiring someone new, businesses may use reskilling to shuffle around existing employees to different roles. 

Why is reskilling important? 

There are a few reasons why reskilling has become such a hot topic in recent years:

  1. COVID-19 aftermath

The pandemic saw a drastic increase in unemployment, as well as a shift away from traditional workplace setups toward hybrid and remote work. The move to working from home also accelerated existing trends in e-commerce and automation.

Post-pandemic, it is important for workers to keep up with these trends and remain competitive in order to find or retain employment. While the type of work needed may have changed, they do not necessarily need to switch to a different company or industry. 

Instead, reskilling allows them to qualify for alternative positions that benefit the company in today’s evolving landscape. 

  1. Job displacement due to automation 

The rising trend in automation could be staggering. As more and more jobs and tasks can be successfully outsourced to machines, what happens to the human workers left behind? The answer does not have to be unemployment. Instead, reskilling means that these employees adapt their skill sets to fit into a different area within the company. 

Moreover, skills relevant to technology and online presence are increasingly in demand.

To thrive in this digital era, then, many workers may choose to reskill in areas like digital marketing or website management. 

  1. Skill shortages 

As the way we work continues to change, executives are also finding skill gaps in their organizations. Many new job opportunities are emerging, however, it can be difficult to find and onboard candidates who have the specific skill sets needed. This is where reskilling comes in. 

Employees in now-defunct roles provide an excellent talent pool, full of employees who are already familiar with company culture and are likely keen to undergo the necessary training to secure a new role. 

Benefits of reskilling 

Reskilling improves employee engagement and retention because it offers so many benefits to employees. In turn, this leads to benefits for the organization. 

Benefits of reskilling for employees

  • Greater sense of job security 

Learning new niche skills increases an individual’s value within the company. The opportunity to reskill demonstrates that a company cares and is willing to invest in its team. Maintaining a stable job with a company means not only being able to manage the expenses of daily life but also continuing to enjoy the same company benefits as before. 

This is primarily an advantage for workers, but increased motivation among employees also benefits the company as a whole. 

  • New skills and personal growth 
blackboard illustration of a figure climbing a set of stairs labeled 'learning', 'training', 'instruction' and 'practice' leading to 'SUCCESS' at the top

Reskilling helps employees to reach their career goals. It is an opportunity to commit to lifelong learning - which makes candidates more attractive to potential employers. Rather than worrying about being replaced by technology, individuals can continue to advance their knowledge and skills in new and exciting ways. 

This may allow them to undertake job roles previously unavailable to them, explore different career paths, and experience personal fulfillment as they master different areas. By increasing their value, they also increase their value within the company and improve their chances of finding work elsewhere if they so choose. 

  • Option for internal mobility 

These new skills give employees a better chance of staying with the company. Becoming eligible for versatile and elevated roles within the company is exciting for their career development. Furthermore, the possibility of promotions is a great motivator to work hard and be productive, regardless of current position. 

Jobs with limited room for progression can leave employees feeling stagnant, forced to accept the same tasks and pay until the day they leave the company. With the option to reskill, then, comes the possibility of growth within the organization - an amazing way to engage your employees!

Benefits of reskilling for organizations 

Equally, businesses stand to gain a great deal from reskilling. 

  • Reduced training and hiring costs 

Finding, hiring, and onboarding new talent costs money. It can be even more expensive when you’re recruiting for specialized roles. In addition to training newbies in the necessary skills, you’re also teaching them about company processes, culture, software, and protocol. All in all, the endeavor takes up time and resources as well as money. 

These costs are lessened when you hire internally. Less turnover and greater employee retention, therefore, means less strain on Human Resources, who would usually be responsible for much of the heavy lifting while onboarding new recruits. 

training room, leader sticking sticky notes on a whiteboard
  • Higher employee retention

Providing reskilling programs boosts employee retention because it enables workers to learn valuable new skills, stay competitive, and ultimately stay with the organization for longer. Rather than losing valued employees when their job becomes obsolete, it’s good to find new positions and ways to hold onto top talent - even if their role changes. 

This also showcases your willingness to invest in your people’s futures, which is great for company loyalty. 

  • Retained company knowledge 

With high turnover rates comes the risk of company knowledge loss. It can take months or years for an employee to gain an in-depth understanding of how a company works - if you let them go, you lose a valuable resource in which you have invested years. 

That’s why it’s important, then, to try to retain employees carrying company knowledge. Seasoned employees can teach new recruits, while also saving the time that would have been taken training up their replacement. 

This time saved is incredibly valuable when it comes to improving a company’s time to market. The goal is to get higher quality products, faster production, and increased profits. 

  • More versatile employees

As employees expand on their skill sets via reskilling, they gain insight into other areas in the company and become more versatile. This makes them an asset to the company, as versatile employees are often the best problem solvers. 

For example, imagine a call center agent made redundant by advances in automated communications solutions. Instead, they may end up in a new role - say, technical support. Because they know firsthand how the call center operates, they may be able to solve complex issues beyond the capabilities of software alone. 

  • Boosted workplace morale

It’s easy for morale to take a hit when job security is low, and people fear being replaced. Providing opportunities for growth via reskilling courses is a great way to counteract this. Demonstrating your commitment to your team in this way creates a more positive and hopeful environment, where people feel that they have options. 

Higher employee morale isn’t only an advantage for workers; it also benefits the organization.  A happy, motivated, and productive team is the key to success. With a healthier atmosphere, you can improve employee engagement and retention, and work together to provide high-quality results. 

coworkers smiling and high fiving over a desk with a laptop and paperwork
  • Improved company reputation 

It reflects well on you as a company if you manage to retrain employees rather than letting them go. The result is more satisfied, loyal employees spreading the word about the workplace. This word-of-mouth recommendation significantly impacts your reputation. A good reputation not only makes you more popular with current employees; it also makes the business more attractive in the eyes of potential future hires. 

Final thoughts 

Reskilling benefits employees as it affords them greater job security, opportunities for personal growth, the development of new skills, and the option for internal mobility. This means more engaged, productive, and versatile workers staying with the company for longer. 

Using the right tools, start reskilling your employees now to benefit your organization, lower training costs, retain company knowledge, boost morale, and have a positive impact on reputation. 

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