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Orientation and onboarding programs are critical elements of the “learning” aspect of L&D, but the “development” portion of the L&D equation often gets overlooked. Investing in L&D isn’t only about ensuring quick onboarding; it’s about developing employees in varied job roles and setting the stage for constant improvement and contribution to organizational goals. This type of investment in continued skill development, or upskilling, demonstrates that the company cares about an employee’s growth and wants to help them succeed, which, in turn, creates a vibrant learning culture, more engaged employees, and lower attrition rates.

Up(skill) or Out

In life, you get out what you put in. This holds true when it comes to your employees. An unfulfilled employee will likely disengage, underperform, or leave for greener pastures. But if you provide them with constant training, a thoughtful growth path, and a transparent and supportive environment to learn and develop, retention rates rise by 30 percent, according to research by TINYpulse, a cloud-based employee feedback solution. It seems simple, yet some employees continue to feel disconnected from their line manager or senior management because they don’t feel invested in. CLOs have an opportunity to close this gap and create a better engagement with their employees. How can this be done? By committing to continuous and adaptive upskilling.

According to a Robert Half report surveying Gen Zers, 91 percent said professional training was an important factor in choosing an employer. Because of the ever-changing nature of jobs, another Robert Half report found that 64 percent of professionals think job hopping can be beneficial — a 22-percent increase from four years ago. There has been an increase in demand for specific skills, some of which can only be taught by an employer. Because of this, incoming employees expect to be trained by employers and coached individually by their manager rather than solely learning on their own during after-work hours.

Upskilling solves this by equipping current employees with opportunities to learn new skills, be guided in their professional growth, and, in turn, keep them motivated and productive. There are many methods to upskill employees but, to ensure optimized outcomes, the method you choose should be a reflection of your employees’ learning style. From group training sessions to microlearning, the possibilities are endless. The benefits are also invaluable, both to the employee and the employer. Upskilling employees not only equips them with the knowledge and skill set to optimally perform their job, be rewarded for their efforts and success, and possibly be on track for a promotion, but could also lessen the cost of external talent acquisition.

Upskilling as a Recruiting Strategy

If you had a choice between promoting internally and hiring externally, which would you choose? While an external hire might fill a clear skills gap, reskilling or upskilling from within can sometimes have quicker impact on business results. No matter how much a new hire knows about the industry, they lack the knowledge of internal operations and haven’t formed in-house, customer, or vendor relationships. This means they’d need time — approximately two years, according to Matthew Bidwell — to learn how to be effective in their new organization and build relationships that matter.

Promoting within, however, is beneficial for multitudinous reasons. As previously mentioned, an in-house hire saves a company time and money because the learning curve is much shorter. Current employees have likely already made headway on upskilling and are trusted by the company because of their familiarity with its business model and culture. Beyond logistics, having internal promotions motivates employees and gives them a more optimistic outlook about their long-term growth with the company. Fostering this type of internal attitude shows employees you care, thereby improving company culture.

Creating a Culture of Caring

It’s true that expectations of company culture are changing, but not in the ways often lamented by older generations. Employees don’t want games or to be constantly entertained. They want to have purpose and feel valued. How can you accomplish this? By upskilling and providing growth opportunities that confirm your commitment to the employee and creates loyalty.

Upskilling can be transformed into a cultural boost because — depending on the decided-upon training method — it can strengthen teamwork through friendly competition, creating unity and aligning employees to strive toward reaching communal company goals. And, perhaps more importantly for the bottom line, it trains employees on soft skills like communication, leadership, and public speaking, as well as hard skills like coding, Excel, procedures, or other programs. Building a successful training program equates to building company culture and, according to Harvard professors James Heskett and W. Earl Sasser, “companies with well-defined corporate cultures often are recognized as better places to work.” In other words: If you invest in them, they’ll invest in you.

Streamlining Upskilling with Microlearning

No matter your chosen method of upskilling, ongoing training should be delivered in manageable amounts in order to give your employees the best chance at retention and mastering new skills. Savvy companies are finding a way to making training a seamless part of the work experience through modern data-driven approaches like microlearning. Qstream is the only microlearning solution scientifically proven to increase knowledge, develop skills, and change behaviors, and it could be the investment your employees need and deserve.

It’s time to shift focus and hire employees in order to train them, retain them, and give them continued opportunities for growth. Going above and beyond surface-level expectations by upskilling current employees shows you believe in their potential. Showing you care isn’t just about fun perks for your employees; it’s about investing, demonstrating, and delivering on authentic interest in their future — and your company’s.

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