As digital transformation continues to disrupt industries at rapid rates, an urgent truth is surfacing: Shiny new tools and technology solutions aren’t enough. Organizations are transforming the way they work while often failing to help employees keep up with shifting skill needs. Consequently, they struggle with a growing skill gap, which can cause their digital transformation results to suffer.

According to Gartner, 64% of managers don’t think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs. Additionally, 70% of employees believe they haven’t mastered the skills they need to excel in their current jobs.

Sure, you can navigate this skill gap by hiring new employees who specialize in your new solutions. But expanding your team can be costly and there’s no telling you will find that ideal candidate. Doing so also disregards the talent of your existing employees. Instead, the key to filling the gap is upskilling and reskilling your workforce.

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling

Upskilling happens when your employees improve their current skills and expand their abilities. This better positions them to take over new responsibilities in their roles as your company’s needs continue to evolve as your digital transformation progresses.

Reskilling

Reskilling involves retraining workers on a completely fresh set of skills so they can take over a new role in the company. This process may apply if you have employees whose previous responsibilities revolved around tasks that are now irrelevant due to new technologies.

But the benefits of building a culture of continued learning goes beyond simply filling the skill gap. Many companies are finding that it can also drive digital transformation success, promote organizational growth and agility, and more.

3 Reasons Upskilling and Reskilling Drive Digital Transformation

1. Change Management – Increase Employee Confidence and Approval

Change is scary, and when it comes to digital transformation, your employees may worry they lack the necessary skills to support the change. This uncertainty can increase doubt and resistance regarding your digital transformation efforts.

Reskilling and upskilling provides employees with the skills they will need to succeed and even advance their own careers. Doing so gives employees an active role in digital transformation, which can ease their worries and gradually replace uncertainty and resistance with approval. This can both support your digital transformation’s success and help your employees feel more supported and confident.

Reskilling Your Team for Successful Change

2. Retain and Engage Your Employees

As you transform the way you work, you may replace old functions, technologies, and processes with newer, streamlined ones. This begs the question of what happens to the employees behind them. Instead of letting go of that talent, you can reskill employees by upgrading their skills to fill new demands. With new processes and technologies comes a need for new skills. With reskilling, you may be able to train these employees to fill these gaps. Alternatively, they may be suitable to enter an entirely different department, field, or area of expertise.

But upskilling can also help with employee retention and engagement. According to a Gallup report, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job. For employees looking for dynamic work experiences and growth, adding new skills to their repertoire and the chance to increase their value is highly appealing. Being able to offer employees these exciting opportunities can also be an asset for organizations amid the current Great Resignation.

Giving employees the chance to advance their careers can also encourage them to take ownership, take on new projects, and innovate. Ultimately, both upskilling and reskilling help organizations retain talent that can add value to their digital transformation initiatives while supporting staff career growth. It’s a win-win.

3. Build a Change-Resilient Organization

Having a workforce that embraces ongoing learning and can rapidly apply their skills is a huge competitive advantage. Technology, customer expectations, and industries will continue to evolve, demanding organizations to be agile and adaptive to change, or die out. Upskilling and reskilling can help your employees adapt to emerging business needs, which can increase loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement.

With practice, your employees can perform through disruptions and gain confidence to persevere, succeed, and sustain during future uncertainties. Continued learning doesn’t just enhance your employees’ potential, but it leads your organization to increased success and growth

How to Build an Upskilling and Reskilling Strategy for Long-Term Agility

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Continuous Learning

As powerful as reskilling and upskilling is, simply making it a one-and-done operation to fill current needs isn’t enough. To remain agile and competitive in your ever-evolving industry, you must continually evaluate your workforce’s existing skillsets and identify opportunities to build upon them.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Reflect on your organization’s digital transformation vision. 

Try to understand where you’re at, where you want to go, and what you need to accomplish that. This will help you identify or predict what types of skills you may need in the future.

Analyze your customer base.

Research past data to understand their behavior so you can align the strategy to their preferences. After all, customer service is key.

Conduct a skills gap analysis. 

Learn what your people already know and what they need to perform in the near future. Review the critical skills your business requires. Then list the skill gaps you need to address.

Establish goals based on your skills gaps.

Filling the gaps won’t happen overnight, but you can begin making progress in little time if you map out your plan now.

Promote a culture of citizen innovation

As soon as your employees begin learning new skills, encourage them to find ways to apply them and share their ideas. You can even involve them in initiatives like the discovery process behind automation projects. By seeing digital transformation form and unfold right in front of them, they can get inspired to innovate themselves.

What is Citizen Innovation and Why it's Critical to Reskill Your Employees

Start small.

Don’t dive into your program too quickly by involving too many people at once. Start by assembling a few teams of knowledge workers, train them, and encourage them to begin applying their skills. As they learn more and get used to seeking out opportunities for innovation, they, and those around them can slowly warm up to the idea. Over time, it can become second nature as a part of the company culture.

Consider learning in smaller doses.

Micro learning or dividing your employees’ education into shorter modules can fit into the availability of your busy staff. This can also prevent your employees from feeling overwhelmed.

Consider using simulations and other hands-on training tools like RPA.

These strategies can help if your employees need to learn to use machines or devices  or respond to emergencies. Additionally, work with subject matter experts to build curriculums.

Plan rewards. 

To add extra fun and appeal to your program, you can build in rewards based on milestones and other markers.

Create a program marketing plan.

Strategically presenting your learning programs to your employees will help them warm up to the idea. Create messaging that demonstrates how the program can expand your people’s skills, increase their value, and develop their careers.

It’s vital that organizations make upskilling and reskilling a part of their digital transformations. Investing in the people behind your organization isn’t just cost effective in the short term but can positively impact your culture and help your organization build resilience in the future.

Need Guidance on Your Journey?

If you are unsure about how to incorporate upskilling and reskilling into your strategy or have any other questions about digital transformation, know that we’re here to help guide you toward your goals.

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About Kara

As a Naviant content writer since 2019, Kara’s goal is to help companies better understand how Naviant can help them streamline their business processes using technology, from RPA to content services, cloud solutions, and more. In her articles, Kara breaks down the latest research, trends, and tips from industry-leading institutions and subject matter experts into content that provides value to business users. When she isn’t writing, Kara can be found doing anything active or arts-related and supporting her alma mater, the Wisconsin Badgers.