Learning & Development

How to Reskill Employees & Why It Matters

Is reskilling part of your company’s training strategy? It should be. A company that knows how to reskill employees will stay competitive over those that can’t.

According to the World Economic Forum, less than half of remote workers feel their current company provides specific training to develop the right skills to do their job. This leads to many employees looking to switch occupations or find a different job.

Reskilling efforts help your organization build a learning culture that retains top talent, boosts employee engagement, and closes skills gaps.

So, let's see how reskilling employees can impact your organization.

What is employee reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of training employees in new skills, with the goal of moving that employee into a different position. It's a better alternative to firing or replacing top talent by providing training resources that develop the essential skills for their new positions.

Reskilling and upskilling are often compared. These are similar, but not the same.

  • Upskilling strategies involve skill building that helps employees advance in their same roles and career path
  • Reskilling involves teaching new skills to current employees and completing new tasks, using internal mobility instead of hiring new employees

The benefits of teaching employees new skills

Reskilling and upskilling are both designed to identify skill gaps and teach employees skills that provide growth opportunities within their current company.

But, what makes reskilling important for an organization?

Reskilling is important because it allows many employers to provide specific skills trainings that keep valuable employees in their company. Instead of hiring new employees, reskilling initiatives are designed to provide existing employees with specific skills to perform new tasks or excel at a different position.

Here are several benefits of implementing a reskilling training program in your workplace:

1. Reskilling allows organizations to retain top talent

When a role in your organization becomes obsolete, you only have two options:

  • Terminate or lay off the employee
  • Offer that employee reskilling training

Reskilling is an ideal choice when you are faced with losing someone who is otherwise a good employee and contributor.

If the employee agrees, you benefit from holding onto a valuable worker. Employees are also able to retain their employment while learning new skills.

2. Skills development meets evolving company goals

Every company will see its goals changing over time. Sometimes, those goals change rapidly.

This happened during the pandemic when many retailers had to shift from in-person learning to blended learning. This led to these companies needing workers with an entirely new set of skills, but might not have the same budget to hire new employees.

The organizations that knew how to reskill employees were able to respond quickly. They helped workers obtain new skill sets and didn’t struggle nearly as much to adapt.

3. Reduces hiring costs

The average cost of hiring a new employee is $4,000. That includes recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding.

There’s also the cost of the time it takes to familiarize a new employee with company policies and procedures.

With reskilling, there are no recruiting costs. While there is an investment in training, that’s often limited to the specific skills the employee needs to master.

Reskilled workers are already familiar with existing policies and procedures. Also, there’s no risk of losing a reskilled worker because of unexpected workplace culture issues.

4. Improve employee retention rates

Since your organization isn't hiring new talent, the same employees stay in the company. Reskilling employees increases retention rates while lowering turnover and attrition.

Many workers feel a better sense of job security when an organization is willing to teach them new skills outside of their original job requirements.

5. Keeps knowledge within the company

By reskilling your employees, you ensure that important knowledge stays in the company. That’s often a better alternative than letting workers go and watching months or years of proprietary knowledge leave with them.

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How to reskill employees

Reskilling workers is a better alternative than flat-out firing and replacing them. In order for your organization to successfully teach employees new skills, strategic planning is required to implement these reskilling initiatives.

Follow these steps to make the reskilling process go smoothly:

  • Step #1: Identify open positions and future needs
  • Step #2: Determine which roles need more focus
  • Step #3: Create a list of reskilling criteria
  • Step #4: Identify individual employee skills gaps
  • Step #5: Select a training style for reskilling workers
  • Step #6: Discussing reskilling with employees
  • Step #7: Develop a reskilling program

Step #1: Plan for open positions and future needs

Reskilling is only feasible if there are new roles to be filled immediately or if there will be a need soon. Start your plan by writing a list of departments and roles that need to be filled.

Think about your organization's short and long-term plans. Do you plan to offer additional services or open new locations?

Rather than terminating people today, keeping them and reskilling them could be worthwhile.

Step #2: Determine which roles need more focus

Some roles will require special planning and preparation.

Leadership roles or positions that require very in-depth technical skills can certainly be filled by reskilled employees.

However, doing that may not be as easy as preparing workers for many other openings.

Step #3: Create a list of reskilling criteria

Keep in mind that not all workers are good candidates for reskilling.

  • Some will simply be uninterested or unwilling
  • Others might try reskilling but ultimately decide that the new position isn’t for them

It’s best to choose the best workers for this opportunity by setting some criteria.

When deciding which workers can be reskilled, you will want to focus on employees who have shown they are flexible and coachable.

People who have indicated an interest in a future at your company will be better candidates than those who are very bonded to a particular skill set and position.

Aptitude is also important. Reskilling is going to be frustrating for all involved when a worker simply isn’t able to take on the new competencies they need to have.

You will need to determine how you will assess which workers will be able to participate in reskilling.

Step #4: Identify individual employee skill gaps

If you’re fortunate, you may have some time to prepare. For example, you might know six months ahead of time that you’ll be closing down one of your locations.

If that’s the case, look at each employee’s skills gaps and performance. 

They may have improvements they need to make and additional training to complete before they are qualified for your reskilling program.

Let these workers know as soon as possible so they can take advantage of this opportunity.

Step #5: Select a training style for reskilling workers

How will you reskill your workers? This is similar to choosing how you will train team members in other circumstances.

The best method will depend on the number of people to train, the complexity of the subject matter, and the location of your employees. 

For example, if all workers being reskilled are in the same location, in-person training might be an option. For distributed teams, you will need to create an online training program.

If your reskilling efforts are particularly intensive, you may need to implement some sort of mentorship program to help with training and onboarding.

Once you’ve determined how you will reskill your team members, you can begin to create a training plan, develop training materials, and set a timeline.

This doesn’t need to be exact. You just want to have a basic idea of the time and resources it’s going to take to prepare people to take on their new roles. 

Step #6: Discussing reskilling with employees

Not every employee is going to embrace the idea of being reskilled. Some will be happy with growth opportunities and see it as a better alternative to starting a job search.

Still, the idea of learning new skills and taking on a new role is stressful in any circumstance.

Approach the conversation diplomatically. Be prepared that some workers simply won’t be interested in changing roles. If a worker is undecided, you could remind them that reskilling could be useful for their professional development.

Step #7: Develop a reskilling program

Reskilling programs aim to teach employees specialized skills that are identified through a skill gap analysis. Once the skills required are listed out, organizations can provide reskilling training to current employees.

To develop a reskilling program:

  • Segment employees based on skills gaps
  • Select a training style that matches the curriculum
  • Create learning tracks that develop required skills
  • Deliver the training to employees in an effective way
  • Track and measure employee training progress

Examples of reskilling employees

When it comes to employee training, skill development is an essential strategy to retain top talent and stay competitive.

Here are two scenarios that involve employee skills development.

Closing locations or divisions

Your company has found that its brick-and-mortar stores are struggling. Meanwhile, eCommerce is going much better than expected. Management decides to shutter all physical locations to focus entirely on the internet business. 

You have a team of IT techs who have been responsible for maintaining in-store POS systems and networks. Their jobs will be eliminated. However, you think their technical skills will be highly transferable as customer support specialists.

So you review their current skill gaps and compare them with the skills needed. Then, you create a reskilling program to help them make the change.

Eliminating a single role

Sometimes you may not need to reskill a group or department of employees. Instead, you may have a single role that you are eliminating.

For example, someone in your operations department may be facing a layoff. However, you realize they have in-depth product knowledge.  

You don’t want to lose their insights and skills. So you decide to move them into product development. The best way to do this is to offer to reskill them so that they can succeed in that new role.

The LMS for reskilling and much more...

The foundation of a reskilling program is a good learning management system. Continu is a modern LMS with all of the features you need to execute your organization's reskilling initiatives, such as:

  • Creating a training curriculum for your reskilling program
  • Assessing employees before, during, and after training
  • Establishing a knowledge base to help workers in new roles
  • Interfacing with collaborative digital tools and third-party content providers

With a solid plan, infrastructure, and LMS, you should be able to roll out a reskilling program that serves your workers and your organization.

Schedule a Demo Today

See Continu in action and how it can help your organization build a culture of learning.

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