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The Importance of Upskilling During Economic Downturn

Emily Mason
Writer, Learning and Development
Learning & Development
January 26, 2024

Highlighting the value of upskilling during economic challenges: safeguard jobs, adapt to market shifts, and position businesses for post-downturn growth.

Cultivate a Culture of Learning

In the current job market and economic environment, teams are being tested on all sides. About 1 in 5 U.S. workers have considered a professional shift since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. For workers under 40 years old, the numbers are even higher: nearly 1 in 3 have considered a change in their job or field of work.

This has been amplified by an increase in layoffs, hiring, and spending freezes as inflation has risen substantially in 2022. Many businesses are pulling down the storm shutters to prepare for uncertain times ahead. For example, the technology sector has seen hiring fall 9.1% month-over-month in June 2022. 

In many cases, this has left teams with fewer members than before working to achieve ambitious growth goals and bring value to their organization—fighting an uphill battle against the unpredictable economy. It’s no surprise that employee dissatisfaction might grow in this environment. Few things are more demoralizing than seeing close teammates leave or be laid off while facing longer to-do lists for yourself than ever before. 

As a business leader, how can you confidently address these circumstances? 

Focused attention on upskilling your team members is a clear and proven way to increase job satisfaction while adding valuable knowledge and experience to benefit your whole organization.

4 Reasons to Upskill Employees Despite Economic Downturn 

1. Increase motivation and morale 

A team of continuous learners will be more highly motivated and committed to producing the best work possible despite the difficult economic season. If your employees are frustrated by the lack—or even accessibility—of upskilling opportunities, their daily tasks will begin to feel like a dead-end street rather than stepping stones to their future development. 

A recent study reveals that nearly 3 in 4 workers (71%) who participated in upskilling in their job agreed or strongly agreed that it enhanced their job satisfaction! Upskilling often requires more interaction with colleagues and even making connections across different departments in the organization. It’s hard to argue against the benefits of a more connected, invested, and engaged team. 

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2. Prepare well-rounded team members for the future

Helping your team members to develop varied skills and abilities will make them more well-rounded and confident, prepared for the changes that may lie ahead in your organization or in the market at large.

From a company culture standpoint, focus and investment into upskilling show your team that you understand the effort required to adapt and fill in the gaps where others have left or resources will not allow for hiring. We can all relate to the feeling of being unappreciated at work. Then when more is required of us, our resentment grows. Providing substantive and meaningful training opportunities to your team proves that you care about their professional future and personal development—whether they apply their skills in your organization for years or move on to benefit another team and business. 

3. Invest in your current team

The savings from upskilling vs. rehiring are generally substantial. Hiring new talent instead of upskilling your current team requires a hefty investment of finances, time, and energy, and ultimately leaves you waiting much longer to see the growth you’re hoping for. Additionally, searching for and developing skills from the inside mitigates the risk you take with outside hires who may turn out to be a poor fit. 

Wondering about the difference between upskilling and reskilling? Our blog post explains how both fit into your L&D strategy.

Well-trained and highly-skilled workers also add priceless value to your brand reputation. Any team member who gains confidence and a wider range of abilities and experience will be a walking testimonial to the benefit of upskilling for your business.

4. Live out your company values 

It’s common for modern businesses to emphasize learning and employee growth in their values and mission. How many claim to have a culture of learning and development, but struggle to prove its existence and provide truly beneficial opportunities? 

It’s crucial to invest in your employees in any way possible during difficult times when a raise or bonus might be temporarily off the table. Providing ongoing training opportunities and investing in their professional development shows the true value you put on each individual and their journey, allowing you to make good on the promises in your company values statement. 

The Cost of Stagnation

The lack of training opportunities has become a significant reason why employees leave their jobs. McKinsey research found that “a primary driver of quitting is that employees do not have opportunities to learn new things or find their work interesting or challenging.” When economic changes leave your team with fewer projects and extra time on their hands; things could go one of two ways. You can choose to channel that time into a chance to grow or allow talent and morale to atrophy with a gloomy outlook on the situation. 

If stagnation and a lack of opportunity send your team members searching for proverbial greener pastures, the cost of recruiting and re-hiring for their roles far outweighs most investments you could have made into their development and training. For example, current research suggests that the cost to hire one senior software developer (including recruitment, interviewing, onboarding, and lost productivity) can exceed $50k! As an economic downturn puts a strain on your business, the wisest choice may be to look inward and build a strategy to effectively upskill and develop the talented team you already have. 

With such high costs of stagnation and employee loss, you need an LMS to create and deliver targeted, high-quality learning that benefits everyone in the business. 

We Make Upskilling Second-Nature

Think about your current approach to upskilling. What are some challenges you face?

  • Is a clunky, outdated LMS or tired-out training approach hindering you from offering the upskilling your team desires? 
  • Do you struggle to present your training as an attractive and cohesive experience?
  • Are bits and pieces of your training scattered across multiple platforms?
  • Do your team members tend to drop off the cliff mid-way through courses or modules?

That’s where Continu can help. We’re a powerful, easy-to-navigate LMS built for modern teams. 

Our course authoring tools make it simple to deliver training material to upskill individuals and teams across your organization, anywhere in the world. You can easily track and measure employee training progress and capture data and responses from your team in order to refine and improve your learning process. 

Upskilling your team can happen faster than ever with the ability to build customized learning tracks and upload your courses and resources seamlessly on the Continu platform. Our platform makes ongoing learning something accessible, attention-grabbing, and truly beneficial for your entire team. 

These are three key features that make upskilling with Continu much simpler than you’ve ever experienced:

  1. Continu helps tailor learning based on departments, geography, or custom variables you choose using Smart Segmentation™. 
  2. Continu seamlessly integrates with tools you may already know and use like Zoom, Google, Okta, Salesforce, and many more. These integrations help you to automate redundant tasks like notifying users across channels and escalating to managers automatically. 
  3. Continu offers a superior user experience that teams love to use. Our easy-to-use interface helps you to easily find the content you’re looking for, track progress in real-time and motivate your users to complete courses and modules. 

It’s clear that upskilling is one way your business can thrive during difficult times. A hiring freeze doesn’t have to stagnate your team! We’d love to share how Continu can deliver valuable upskilling to your business. 

Experience your demo today to see the future of learning for modern teams.

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About the Author
Emily Mason is the Content Writer at Continu.
Emily Mason
Writer, Learning and Development

Emily is a copywriter and content marketer specializing in Learning and Development. Emily is currently based in West Michigan. She loves words, coffee, and walking by the lake.

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