Even before the pandemic, technological advances made retraining workers — also known as “reskilling” — occasionally necessary in many industries. The more rapid changes in recent years have accelerated the need for employers of all kinds to invest time and money in ensuring employees are proficient at using the latest equipment, technology, and processes.
Well, there’s good news and bad news: In an ever-evolving economic and technological environment, reskilling workers may become a regular occurrence to keep up with the competition, compliance, and customers. However, doing so can keep you engaged in strategic planning and give you an advantage over competitors with less skilled workforces. Here are five best practices for deciding when and how to reskill employees:
- Identify what needs to change. Pinpoint the skills that will be the most valuable in the future and gear training programs to those skills. Also, decide what roles need to be eliminated or created and how daily operations should change. If, for example, some employees previously had little customer contact but will now participate in sales or customer service activities, their training should reflect this.
- Don’t just reskill, upskill too. The terms ‘reskilling’ and ‘upskilling’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. As mentioned, reskilling is training employees to do something substantially different, whereas upskilling is upgrading existing skills. Ideally, your training efforts should do both. In addition, be sure to address and accommodate a wide range of learning styles and curves. People learn best in different ways.
- Customize your learning plan. If you’re in the process of reimagining your organization’s operational model, develop a detailed view of the core activities and skillsets that will be needed in the next 12 to 18 months. You can customize learning plans to specific roles, but also scale up by training workers digitally. The most effective tech tools, such as live video sessions, can replicate in-person learning methods.
- Test and adapt. There’s no guarantee your organization will develop a perfect reskilling plan on its first attempt. Be willing to acknowledge mistakes and fix them. The expertise you’re sharpening now, even with a few missteps, can pay dividends later — particularly if you’re forced to adapt to disruptive events again.
- Be prepared to spend money…carefully. No matter how sound the strategic plan, your objectives may fall short if you don’t adequately invest the financial resources in reskilling employees as necessary. Then again, you don’t want to throw money at any problem. Set a careful budget for major training initiatives and be prepared to adjust it as dictated by circumstances and results. Contact us for help identifying, tracking, and analyzing training costs.