08 October 2019

The changing face of the workplace: why upskilling your employees is a must

Soft Skills / Talent Development
Upskilling your employees


Matthew Maclachlan

Staff training and development is an integral part of any L&D strategy in the corporate workplace. If you want to retain employees, maintain and build a positive learning culture and increase employee engagement, then it is important to focus on this area of your corporate growth strategy. Upskilling your employees benefits both the business and the employee, so find out more about why this is a key investment in our guide.

soft skills
Soft Skills Development
Building the critical skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace
soft skills
Soft Skills Development
Building the critical skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace

What is employee training and development?

Staff training is when the company or workplace puts on a series of learning-based activities or courses to upskill their employees in a particular area. This could be to learn about a particular area of the role, move mid-weight employees into senior management positions, or do sitewide company training to work together more effectively. It could be a completely new topic, building on existing knowledge, or a combination of both.

Is there a difference between training and development? 


Training typically addresses immediate challenges faced in the workplace. For example, all new employees must go through a standard training procedure to introduce them to the role and company values. Without this, the new employee would not know the standards and expectations of them, which will increase the likelihood of them underperforming.

Employee training also addresses either learning a new skill or upskilling. For example, in a global team – it is key to incorporate intercultural skills to enhance efficiency when working between regional teams.


Employee development is often a long-term plan in the workplace that should have time-focused markers to track progress. This is often also collaborative communication progress between the employee and their line manager as it is not just about where you can progress in a company but often where the employee wants to go in the company. Creating long-term development goals can help employees see longevity within the workplace and often helps with staff retention.

What are the benefits of staff training and development?

There are, however, some compelling reasons why companies should increase their investment in training – not only to reverse a decline but also to grow and strengthen the organization.  Forbes Magazine, in its dedicated channel for HR executives, divides these reasons into two categories: those that benefit the employer and those that benefit the employee.

Benefits to the Employer

  • Retention
  • Succession planning
  • Recruitment

Benefits to the Employee

  • Engagement
  • Growth
  • Increase their value

Further Employee Training Benefits

  • Building resilience in teams
  • Attracting top new talent
  • Less support is required from new knowledge gained
  • Track personal and professional growth
  • Have a clear development track
  • Boost motivation and job satisfaction
  • Increase overall efficiency
  • Keep and maintain quality and standards in the workplace
  • Outperform the industry competition

The more you train the skills you need, the better you perform overall.  At a superficial level, we all understand that you need to train employees, but when we need to save money, the training budget is the first to go.

Why being proactive in staff training is important

One of the biggest positives of encouraging a learning culture in your organization is that it removes the temptation to stagnate.  If an employee expects to grow and learn new skills, that expectation permeates planning, strategy, vision and leadership.  The organization looks to the future, rather than resting on past successes.  Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur, warns of the danger of sitting back:

Providing a full suite of development opportunities to your staff tells them that you want to keep them.  This isn’t a “one night stand”; you are investing in a serious relationship.  Not only do you want to equip them to do the job they have now, but you also want to prepare them for the job they will have in the future – whether next year or in five years’ time.

And like any serious relationship, there is a two-way benefit.  One of the greatest internal risks an organization has is employing a new senior leader. Can they get up to speed quickly? Can they make an immediate impact, will they build trust with the staff?

Further reading

Upskilling your employees means that not only do you have a wide range of internal candidates, it also gives your new leader a team of gifted employees to support them if you do decide to recruit externally.  If your new leader doesn’t need to spend time reorganizing the talent, they can focus on the important job of growing your business.

Why upskilling is important when considering employee engagement

According to a 2018 survey, 80% of millennials consider learning a new skill an important factor when looking at a new job offer; 93% value lifelong learning; 22% are willing to take time off work to gain new skills and qualifications.

80% of millennials consider a learning a new skill an important factor when looking at a new job offer

Millennials now make up nearly a third of the job market, in which the supply of jobs has outgrown demand.

Global employment rates have soared, with skills gaps reported across most sectors.  If you want to recruit the best talent and keep it, you need to be able to offer a benefits package that meets the development expectations of your recruits.

soft skills
Soft Skills Development
Building the critical skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace
soft skills
Soft Skills Development
Building the critical skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace

Upskilling your workforce engages with them at a level they understand.  They know that you want performance, but can see the benefit to them as well.  They recognize the equation is balanced, and while it remains balanced, you have an engaged employee who can see a future in your organization.  As the growth and development opportunities taper off, so the restlessness and desire for a new challenge may grow.

How to successfully implement a training program in the workplace

If you are an HR professional or responsible for the L&D strategy in your organization, it is important to be able to explain the benefits in order to persuade key stakeholders. If this, however, if not a blocker you need to overcome, these tips will help you get started in implementing a training program:

Identify skill gaps 

In order to implement and effective training program, you must first identify what your employees need training on. Think about what could go better in the workplace if additional training was provided, and start the shortlisting process on a priority basis. For example, if you have teams that speak a variety of languages and have to communicate the language barrier is affecting efficiency, it would be important to incorporate language skills training.

Employee Engagement Survey 

Find out what your employees are looking for in the role or areas they think they need to upskill on. You can either ask them directly in regular catch-up meetings, or you can send out an employee engagement survey outlining specific questions that will help you make your decision. This is only effective however if you get a high percentage of responses.

Understand why you need training and development 

You can track ROI by setting company goals and using this is a long-term monitor of training effectiveness. If you have identified a high turnover rate, for example, you can use retaining staff as your long-term training goal.

Choose a corporate training provider 

Match your intent with a training provider who can provide effective corporate training programs. Learnlight’s platform offers flexibility and a variety of ways of training to suit your business needs.

See how Learnlight can accelerate your staff training and development 

An organization can only learn and adapt when it encourages its employees to learn and adapt. Creating a learning culture and constantly upskilling employees is a fundamental business survival skill. Here at Learnlight, we have a range of training solutions that can help bridge skills gaps and benefit your corporate strategy. Book a demo or contact us for further information.

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