Upskilling Employees: 5 Strong Reasons to Invest in Employee Development

Upskilling focuses on helping existing employees improve their skills, or learn new skills, for their current positions with the company. 

On the latest episode of the Team Building Saves the World podcast, we spoke about upskilling employees with Jackie Hague, Director of Enterprise Leadership Development at CVS Health. She believes that upskilling is for everyone.

“You should always be developing, and that’s something that no one owns for you. You should always be thinking about where am I strong and how am I leveraging my superpowers and where do I have the opportunity to grow and stretch.”

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of employee upskilling in more detail and explain the different benefits it brings to the employee and the employer. 

What Is Employee Upskilling?

On the individual level, upskilling helps employees develop new competencies and become more knowledgeable. By offering your employees upskilling opportunities, they can learn new software skills, expand their technical knowledge, or master a new process. 

There are many creative strategies that can help you achieve this. For example, your employee may work with a mentor in the company or take a virtual class. Upskilling encompasses anything from formal classes, and micro-learning to mentoring, shadowing informal lunch sessions, and other avenues. 

However, upskilling doesn’t always have to focus on maximizing the employee’s technical or job skills. It can also focus on developing soft skills such as time management or effective communication

TeamBonding’s Summer Camp Throwback team building event is ideal for equipping your employees with the necessary soft skills such as leadership, team communication, and engagement. There’s nothing like a little friendly summer camp competition to improve communication and strengthen their team bond. 

5 Key Benefits of Upskilling Employees

Employees want companies to invest in their career development. According to a recent report, 93% of Millennials and Gen Z employees expect their employers to provide additional learning opportunities. 

If you’re still not considering having an upskilling program, here are the top five benefits of upskilling your employee rather than hiring new ones. 

1. Hiring Up and Upskilling Reduces Turnover

Upskilling your workforce or hiring up can help you reduce turnover. Data shows that the costs of upskilling employees are lower than hiring and onboarding a new employee. In fact, turnover can cost a company about 50% of the salary of an entry-level job

Upskilling employees will not only ensure that your current employees stay with you, but it will also help you attract new talent. By helping your employees gain new skills, your organization will enjoy the many benefits of a cross-trained and well-rounded staff. 

In addition to that, strengthening an employee’s future through new learning opportunities also builds loyalty and gives employees a clear path forward with your company. 

2. Employees Become More Productive and Efficient

Reducing gaps in an employee’s training reduces errors and increases their effectiveness. Upskilling employees also allows the company to leverage new technologies in order to reach new potentials and markets.

With so many new positions requiring specialized skill sets, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find adequate employees. As new jobs are created, upskilling enables employers to close that digital gap and fill open positions from within. 

3. Stimulate Employee Engagement

By providing new pathways for career development, upskilling programs can boost employee engagement. This is also an effective way to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. 

Companies benefit from valuing their staff through better retention and improved staff performance. When employees feel valued in their roles, they are more productive, more accurate, and better problem-solvers. 

Team building activities such as the Ice Cream Challenge can help improve work satisfaction and leads to more effective leadership. Guided by expert facilitators, your team will learn how to better collaborate and innovate while also having fun creating the tastiest frozen treat. 

ice cream challenge

4. Boost Customer Satisfaction

Investing in employee upskilling programs can directly translate into happier customers. This can have a direct effect on your bottom line. Employees who are equipped with the right skills will complete their jobs faster and produce more favorable results, improving the overall customer experience. 

Embracing upskilling produces an agile workforce that is flexible and able to adapt to a changing world. In our fast-moving world, how successful your business is largely depends on how quickly your workforce is able to acquire new skills. 

5. Reduce Hiring and Onboarding Costs

Allowing your employees to grow and acquire new skills within the company can save you time and money in the long run. With fewer employees leaving your company, you are able to keep your employee turnover under control and invest capital in expanding the business or the team. 

This also means that you will be spending less capital on recruitment, onboarding, and training entry-level candidates.

According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a conservative estimate of employee departure costs, which include replacement employees, recruiting new talent, and the lost productivity, can reach one-half to three-quarters of the employee’s annual salary. 

In other words, it will cost between $25,000 and $37,500 to replace an employee earning $50,000 per year. Imagine the recruiting cost savings to your company if you reduce turnover by 10%, 20%, or more. In other words, build better employees instead of buying new ones. 

Getting Started with Employee Upskilling

Upskilling employees is important in this digital age of technology and automation. Companies need people with specialized skills to perform more complex tasks.  

Gallup’s 2017 report show companies with career development and employee upskilling programs benefit from lower turnover, increased retention, and better employee engagement

While the average employee stays 2.9 years with one company, employees stay up to twice as long with companies that invest in the employee’s learning.

Upskilling through personal support such as mentorship or “lunch and learn” type opportunities, connects employees with the up-and-coming leaders in your organization. Fostering mentorship programs increases employee retention and makes your company more attractive to the top talent.

Other avenues for upskilling employees include continuing education conferences, case studies, formal courses, microlearning tidbits, and team-building opportunities. 

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast with Jackie Hague to get more insights into the benefits of upskilling employees and hear other helpful tips on how to get started. 

Final Thoughts

Research shows that upskilling and hiring up within the company is more beneficial from a business perspective than hiring new talent. Giving your employees a chance to expand their skills increases their loyalty to the company and helps them see a clear path for growth. This in turn may increase employee engagement while causing turnover rates to decrease. 

While most upskilling programs focus on leveling up the employee’s technical skills, helping them develop soft skills is as equally as important. Team building activities are a proven and effective method of helping people enhance their communication and problem-solving skills. 

TeamBonding offers numerous team building activities that promote effective communication, empathy, and collaboration among team members. If you need a more customized approach, each TeamBonding activity is fully customizable to suit your team’s needs. Contact us today to learn more.

Vipsania Pimentel

Team Contributor


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