Why You Should Consider Upskilling Workers

May 29, 2019

Upskilling, or teaching an employee additional skills, is not a new concept, but it’s not always the first thing you think of in the staffing world. After all, workers come and go and there’s no guarantee you’ll work with them again after summer is over. Spending the time (and even money) helping them learn a new skill might not make sense for every worker, but it’s an option you should consider—even for seasonal workers. 

Large companies with the staff and budget available might implement large-scale training programs. Other businesses choose to create small-scale or less formal programs that rely on mentorships and on-the-job training. Here are reasons why your business, wherever it falls on the spectrum, can benefit from an upskilling initiative:

Bypass the talent competition
When you’re hiring for a position, you probably have a set of requirements you can’t budge on, and then another set of qualities that are nice to have but aren’t essential to the role. How often have you found a worker who has many but not all of the qualities you want? When the supply of workers outnumbers the demand, you might have the luxury of looking for the perfect candidate who has everything and more. But when you’re trying to woo workers who have their choice of jobs, consider investing a little time in applicants who have the potential to be great.

When you hire a qualified worker who can get the job done, look for the aptitude and desire to learn the skills that bring them to the next level. You don’t have to immediately decide whether or not you want to invest in additional training, education, and mentorship. Wait to assess their performance and after a while, you can see if you want to keep them on board once you know they are a good fit. When you decide to invest in a worker, you have already built the relationship and made them part of your talent pipeline, while other employers are starting their recruitment process from scratch.

Brand affinity
We’re in a different era of work. Yes, today’s workers want a paycheck—that hasn’t changed. However, they’re also looking for places to work that either have a purpose or create a culture that they want to belong to. While you might think this isn’t a top priority when it comes to temp work, it’s actually just as relevant. After all, contingent workers often use temp jobs to test out an employer. If their brief stint at your company doesn’t align with their goals, they might move on to one that does.

Upskilling sets a tone for your business. It shows that you’re willing to allocate resources—whether that’s time or money—to help a member of your team. That not only creates a positive image and relationship with a current worker, but it lets other job seekers know you are different than other businesses. Remember, you can set official and unofficial parameters for the situations where you are willing to upskill a worker; don’t fear that you’re opening the floodgates to a pool of workers you’re not willing to or capable of helping.

Understand the market
Perhaps the most intangible element of upskilling is that it gives you a glimpse into what talent is available. On paper, applicants can look similar. On the job, you start to understand what soft skills (and hard skills) are prevalent. You might discover that today’s workers have the basics of your industry covered, but only some have the critical thinking or leadership qualities you need. Once you start pinpointing the areas you need to upskill workers, you’ll quickly find out which qualities are common and which are rare finds.  Then you can make more educated decisions about which workers to hold on to and upskill.

Ultimately, the true benefits of upskilling will come when your talented workforce is delivering the results and quality you need to succeed. Talk with your PeopleReady partner to let them know what you’re looking for in a worker so they can find you the best fit.

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