Upskilling: What It Is And Why It's Critical

The pace of innovation is relentless and enabling your employees with upskilling programs can be the difference in the long-term success of a business.

Innovation Insights
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4
 Min read
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March 30, 2021

For any executive, the first step towards building a better team and company begins with bettering yourself. However, self-reflection is a critical and often neglected aspect of the workday. It is also one of the most challenging tasks to undertake – a critical assessment of your skills in a current environment where the lack of personal interaction and feedback can alter an executive's self-perception.


Upskilling is the process of acquiring advanced skills or training to broaden an employee's knowledge base to make them a more effective team member or leader. Upskilling employees to address a skills gap, develop soft skills, or build new skills is an ambitious undertaking that can be harnessed to meet immediate goals with an eye on future ambitions. Numerous studies have shown that empowered and engaged employees are more likely to make significant corporate contributions. This is especially beneficial in early-stage companies where innovation and productivity are driven internally.


At both our Sessions and Innovation Advisory Councils, we've heard time and time again how important it is for organizations to invest the time in training programs and leadership needed to foster a culture of upskilling within a company. The pace of innovation is relentless, and having a workforce that is hungry to learn and stay on top of trends can make or break the long-term success of a business.


That said, meaningful self-assessments often elude savvy business leaders. An upskilling strategy goes beyond the idea of self-care, which incorporates the importance of a healthy work and life balance, mindfulness, and increasingly popular modern concepts such as yoga or napping during the workday to harness creativity.


Upskilling employees address immediate needs such as filling or removing a skills gap obstacle while simultaneously unlocking the long-term potential for innovation and career development.

Create a Vested Interest For Learning New Skills

Motivation comes in many forms. For employees, upskilling accomplishes several things.

• It reinforces the employee's perceived organizational value.

• It strengthens the organization by filling skills gaps.

• It creates job security and limits costly employee turnover.

• It spurs creativity and productivity by unlocking potential.

The increased reliance on technology during the pandemic has shown the importance of maintaining an engaged remote workforce. For executives in highly competitive technology fields, critical self-assessments help unlock potential blind spots that may hinder corporate and personal development. Upskilling enhances the employee's potential through enhanced skillsets and can be the driving force that leads to innovation and personal growth. It gives an employee a sense of inclusion and value.

Weighing the Costs of Upskilling Programs

In-demand skills in the technology sector continue to be one of the most expensive corporate expenditures. Employee retention is paramount to success. The loss of personnel disrupts productivity, widens potential skills gaps, and the replacement costs can significantly exceed the base pay.

Upskilling is a much more cost-effective solution over time. A more engaged workplace increases productivity and innovation. The bottom-line costs significantly outweigh the cost of investing in employee development.

Enhanced Morale

Investing in learning opportunities for employees within the organization promotes positive self-value and eliminates many of the toxins that can derail productivity.

Decreased Turnover

Not having to replace staff lagging in critical skillsets is a significant cost reduction that can find a more positive capital deployment.

Better "Farm Team" Development

Upskilling provides a career path and vision for the employees to attain while strengthening your internal roster, all while infusing corporate culture along the way.

Increased Innovation

Engaged employees are strong company advocates. Upskilling keeps the staff on top of industry developments, allowing for more productive or innovative ideas to flourish.

Customer Satisfaction

One more bottom-line benefit; happy employees are contagious, which reaches the clients. More well-rounded and engaged employees are the best corporate cheerleaders. It also results in drawing outside talent in. People want to work in places where the employees are considered valued and happy.

Where to Begin With Your Upskilling Strategy

For the executive staff, upskilling begins within. A voyage of self-discovery is an essential first step to determine potential pitfalls that face the company or the executive's path of development. It may be impossible to decide on all future industry trends and innovations, but it doesn't mean you can't be proactive and see beyond the immediate needs.


Corporate retreats don't need to be an exercise in eye-rolling "trust falls." Your upskilling efforts should include engaging ways for employees to learn new skills and easily incorporate those development plans within the workday. Creating a specific break period of 45 minutes to an hour to allow the focus on a particular new skillset or enhancement can be done in a variety of methods. In-office or online training programs in the guise of "learning coffee breaks" is a fantastic way to ensure employee participation while allowing them the opportunity to "refresh their brain" from their current task on hand. Industry-specific continuing education programs and seminars or classes at local colleges are viable options for employees whose investment in their careers will result in significant dividends for the company.


Reinforcing the idea of value and personal ownership of their corporate destiny is highly empowering. Upskilling is not a perk or reward for a job well done; it is a tangible acknowledgment of self-worth and potential, which benefits the bottom line and enhances productivity.


Here at Vation Ventures, we work with companies of all sizes to accelerate innovative ideas and processes across their organization. We've built countless upskilling development plans, workshops, and other exercises for our clients to drive a culture of continuous education for their business. From citizen developer programs to hackathons, we'll help you ignite that spark of passion across your team and help you build meaningful change within your organization - get in touch today and see what we can do for you.

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