Voices

The benefits of finding the time to upskill yourself outweigh the challenges

2019-10-10 09:28

Trying to squeeze some personal development into your daily routine while building an empire, running a department or being part of a successful, high performing team is super challenging.

Adding to that, the pressure of all things personal – raising kids, running a household, doing life and the challenge becomes even more overwhelming.

The benefits, however, of finding the time to upskill yourself outweigh the challenges you are currently facing by far.

An increasing number of employers are concerned that they are not recruiting enough high-skilled employees. In the ever changing South African economy, it is vital that we try to stay ahead in the game.

The nature of the job is changing fast. In recent years Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace has become more of a reality. AI is making processes more streamlined, forcing us humans to make ourselves more marketable.

Employees expectations are changing as a younger generation of professionals are entering the market place. Upskilling as become even more vital.

In a Robert Half and Enactus survey of Generation Z workers (born 1990-1999), 91% cited professional training as an important factor when choosing an employer.

It’s not just Gen Z employees either – smart professionals of all ages know that they need to be continually developing their skills if they want to stay relevant in the workplace. Often, they don’t have the time or money to invest in upskilling outside of work, so they look to their employer for support in this area.

Training fuels motivation at work. If your training programmes are agile enough, they boost morale and satisfy any succession plan. Any time that you invest in your employees by providing or supporting upskilling opportunities, they feel more valued in you organisation and when they feel valued, the will become more loyal to the company.

That means you don’t have to replace them. The costs involved in the recruitment and hiring process are high, from advertising the position to potentially paying an increased salary to the new person. That’s not even taking into account the time it takes to train the new person once they’re on the job, and the loss of knowledge and experience the former employee took with them when they left.

Upskilling and self-learning is untimely the responsibility of the employee, however, employers can gain so much by introducing a culture of learning within their environment. Every employee enjoys the feeling of acquiring new skills and learning while on the job. This gives them a sense of pride and instils confidence in them.

Employee development creates a learning culture in the organisation where every employee is motivated to learn new skills and acquire new learnings. This will give their careers an extra push and motivate them to adopt the habit of learning. Encourage them to register for various online or distance learning courses which will help them enhance their skills along with their jobs.

Organisations who train their employees do not face the problem of abnormally high employee attrition. Employees are more likely to remain in such organisations where they are being trained along with their routine jobs. Breaking the routine via leaning creates excitement.

When we begin to understand the important relationship that exists in upskilling, engagement and employee retention, we will begin to understand how return on investment is measured in the business.

Skills are a valuable commodity in any organisation and upskilling presents an incredible opportunity for your organisation to engage and retain employees, while boosting your bottom line.

Imagine this wold of work with happy employees. What a thought! This can be achieved without bean bags, breakaway rooms with sleep pods and all that awesome stuff we often envy from other larger green, ergonomic companies and buildings. If you are a small start-up or an organisation in a developing country try to make a difference through learning: Lunch-time learning, short courses, on-the-job-learning, online learning opportunities can all make a huge impact on employees.

Technology offers new ways of delivering learning and development opportunities that staff can access and can use at their own pace. E-learning and virtual classrooms offer flexibility and informal options such as micro-learning resources or lunch and learn sessions are cost-effective and time-efficient solutions.

Some ideas for employee upskilling that may help your organisation:

  • Identify employees who will benefit from stretch assignments and development opportunities to help motivate and engage them
  • Use various blended learning options for example:
  • Board Based Business Games
  • Online Leaning
  • Simulation Games
  • Face-to-face Learning
  • On-the-job Learning
  • Open Source Learning

Local companies are hard pressed to find the right expertise to achieve their corporate goals. Simply stated, South Africa needs access to better skills to prosper and compete in the global market. However, this is not a revelation.

The country’s skills gap – the difference between the professional talents needed by employers and those available among the working public – has been widely discussed and reported on in the media for over a decade.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.

There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

Sharlene Herandien is the training manager at 21st Century.

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November 10 2019