What are the secret ingredients of a successful professional development program?
Circumstances in the corporate world have been changing rapidly over the past few years. The combination of rapid technological advances and an aging workforce has left businesses facing an unprecedented talent shortage that cannot be solved by new hires. On the contrary, the solution is right in front of you: your current workforce. With the right support from their leaders, employees can develop all the skills they need to meet the challenges of the new normal and come out stronger. In this article, we’ll explore 8 upskilling strategies to help you do just that.
8 Upskilling Strategies That Will Transform Your Workforce
1. Create personalized learning paths
The overall purpose of upskilling is to help employees keep up with changes in the industry and give them the tools they need to successfully perform their tasks even as their roles evolve. In order to successfully guide your employees through this process, it is essential to understand their strengths and weaknesses and design a customized learning path for them. This way, you ensure they are honing the skills that are most beneficial to their role and contribution to the company.
2. Use data to achieve maximum results
Creating a learning journey that is not only personalized but also effective is easier said than done. That’s why it’s essential to use data to ensure the success of your upskilling (or reskilling) program. One possibility would be to use statistics from previous training courses to determine which adjacent skills were most popular among certain professionals. Additionally, if AI technology is available in your organization, you can use it to personalize the learning environment by analyzing employee performance for targeted assessments or workplace tasks. Be sure to track all results, as this information can be extremely valuable for optimizing the learning process in the future.
3. Create mentoring programs
Employees seem to perform better with the help of their peers, which is why mentoring programs are a very popular upskilling strategy. Pairing new with experienced employees creates a wealth of informal training opportunities that happen organically through their interaction. Mentors can welcome new employees, help existing employees transition into a new role, or offer a clearer understanding of how different roles combine to support your organization’s overarching mission. Thus, mentoring fosters a sense of purpose as well as community and natural collaboration among employees.
4. Encourage car training
Although working with others is a great way to learn new skills, you can’t always rely on your colleagues, especially if they have a heavy workload. For this reason, it is important to encourage employees to take the initiative and train themselves and consult the personalized learning path that you have created together. Build a library where employees can find and access training courses and other resources whenever needed. Don’t forget to set aside enough time for self-training. Otherwise, employees will feel pressured to rush it to get back to work.
5. Make learning fun
More often than not, professional development efforts consist of many hours in workshops or web conferences. But this is not enough to motivate employees to embark and stay on their learning journey. Therefore, another way we suggest to ensure a successful professional development program is to figure out how to make learning fun for your employees. Diversify your learning modules with engaging simulations (virtual or face-to-face), which guarantee not only faster information absorption, but also long-term retention. You can also use mobile learning to allow students to learn at their own pace, as well as incorporate more videos and micromodules into your training materials.
6. Increase participation with incentives
Motivation to learn is a strategy that every professional development program should include. Even if employees are driven by their own willingness to develop their skill base, it still doesn’t hurt to give them an extra boost. Rewards don’t have to be monetary to be effective (although they may be a popular choice among your employees). Often, a simple shout out in the company’s communication platform accompanied by words of encouragement and appreciation can be more than enough. Consider awarding badges for each achievement and encourage employees to share them with colleagues or on social media.
7. Ask for feedback
You can take all the necessary steps to upskill and reskill your workforce, but you won’t get the results you want if you don’t communicate with them. By asking for feedback throughout the process, your employees can feel heard and increase engagement, promote transparency, and help you gather valuable information about their progress. As a result, you can easily understand what is working and what needs improvement, and take the appropriate steps to optimize your learning as much as possible. You can collect feedback by conducting surveys or conducting informal interviews throughout the duration of the training.
8. Make education part of your culture
Upskilling is not a one-time thing. To ensure your employees are constantly developing their skills and unlocking the best version of themselves, you need to make learning an integral part of your culture. Train your leaders to support lifelong learning, adjust your policies to allow time for this, and create opportunities for training and advancement. Your employees will thus realize that investing time in improving their qualifications is equal to investing time in themselves and their future. Before they know it, learning will become a part of their routine and they will be motivated to stay up to date with industry developments.
As long as you are aware of the constant changes around us, there is no single right way to upskill your employees. Companies in different industries have their own approaches to workforce development, but they all have one thing in common: a people-centered approach and a love of lifelong learning. By keeping this in mind and following some of the upskilling strategies we’ve shared in this article, we’re confident you’ll be able to create a skills training program that will bring you one step closer to success.