Why Reskilling Should Be a Pillar of Your Corporate Culture

Reskilling can be a long-term strategy to promote retention, boost engagement, and provide an edge on innovation.
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This story is a guest contribution from IN-RGY Group, a digital transformation firm dedicated to helping companies transform their operations through powerful human capital management solutions.

There’s a persistent buzz that jobs are changing in the current corporate landscape. With advances in AI and technology, scholars and practitioners expect that reskilling will be required by more than 50% of the workforce in the next few years—and it's not only tech-related fields that will be impacted.

The World Economic Forum projects that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, but that 97 million new roles may emerge, or about 12 million more jobs than would be displaced by the change. 

Inevitably, every level of management is wondering how to create a people strategy that can accommodate such an overhaul while already in the midst of it, and how to implement that strategy in a way that will mobilize their organization to ride this wave with people-strategy prowess. The good news is that many teams already possess the skills and drive needed, and there’s an opportunity to capitalize on a great pool of people, even with broader labor market fluctuations. The most promising strategy to accomplish this is to foster reskilling as a pillar of corporate culture.

Why Should Reskilling Become Part of Your Corporate Culture?

First, know that reskilling is different than upskilling. Upskilling is the development of skills to grow and advance within a current role and has long been present in learning organizations. It's critical for employees at all levels to adapt to new technologies and evolve within their role and organization. However, reskilling is not your typical training; it involves developing new skills for an entirely different job. Many people will be actively seeking new opportunities, driven either by the pursuit of exciting prospects or out of necessity, and adaptive skills like active learning and critical thinking will be some of the most sought-after abilities. As a result of this shift, companies will need to create a permanent strategic plan that includes reskilling to support organizational needs, including retention, engagement, and innovation.

How To Create a Reskilling Strategy

Retain great people

You may have hired great people who are happy where they are, but if you think your great people don't have their ear to the ground and hear change coming, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. Employees in all industries recognize that automation is on the rise, tech developments aren't slowing down, and new jobs are emerging. Workers are concerned about whether they already possess the necessary skills or if they will be able to acquire them in order to stay employed. A path to continued employment is important, because when employees leave, they take with them essential elements like culture, knowledge, relationships, and experience. When companies provide that clear path to continued employment through reskilling, along with new opportunities within the organization and exciting ways to grow as a person and an employee, everyone benefits.

Implementing a reskilling initiative that’s backed by open communication can create positive outcomes, such as heightened morale and reduced uncertainty. This, in turn, encourages individuals to reinvest in their growth within their current organizations. This is because when individuals are supported, engaged, and given opportunities to grow, they are more likely to stay at a company, actively contribute to its success, and recommend it to their peers. If you aim to attract and reskill capable and skilled employees, retention strategies like reskilling are vital.

Boost engagement

Employee engagement, which measures the motivation, commitment, and positive impact of employees, influences things like productivity, profitability, turnover rates, customer satisfaction, and organizational success. Most agree it takes a village to keep engagement alive, and aligning culture with engagement is a significant way to improve and monitor reskilling strategies. As Daniel Pink highlights in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, providing employees the opportunity to fill themselves up with intrinsic motivation by creating avenues for autonomy, mastery, and purpose can boost engagement and retention. This aligns with the findings from Gallup's Employee Engagement Survey, which indicate that being provided with learning and growth opportunities, receiving encouragement for continuous development, and having a clear purpose are all key drivers of employee engagement. This is even more true when the future is uncertain. Gallup identifies stunted development and limited career growth as the primary factors that pose a significant risk to retaining exceptional employees. However, individuals who perceive themselves as continuously learning contribute to increased efficiency and yield many other advantages. Boosting engagement through reskilling necessitates communication, collaboration, and recognition between managers and employees, as well as opportunities for engagement (e.g., check-ins and progress updates) and a knowledge of employees' strengths, goals, and interests.

Gain an edge on innovation

In practical terms, innovation helps us to think creatively and develop the latest and greatest process, product, and deliverables for customers or internal stakeholders. When metrics, analytics, recruitment strategies, and people processes are innovative, the outcomes can foster further development in industry, product development, tech advances, marketing, and more. The ability to reskill means your organization’s intellectual capital may come from various roles you wouldn’t have previously recruited from. As a result, in the next decade, your teams will better adjust and accommodate shorter half-lives of relevant skills.

Additionally, experts have stressed for years that innovation comes from a diversity of thought and experience, which is why having a homogenous corporate culture of 'like us' can be stifling. By embracing reskilling as a fundamental aspect of corporate culture, it fosters an environment that brings together individuals with diverse perspectives, skills, and life experiences, all united by a common purpose such as continuous learning. This approach allows us to value and leverage the unique contributions of each individual, without necessitating a uniform lens or background.

Reskill a multigenerational workforce

Many organizations mistakenly assume that older workers are redundant or extraneous regarding reskilling, but it is important to recognize that motivated and capable employees can be found across all age groups. Organizations now have a greater capacity to create human-centric policies and provide diverse learning opportunities that are tailored to accommodate the workforce, rather than expecting employees to conform to rigid structures. While this may be obvious for lifelong learners who thrive on creativity and skills development, we can similarly support those who must continue to work into older age out of necessity by giving them tools to adapt. It’s important to recognize that we still have a large group of experienced employees within our workforce who have the critical ability to bridge knowledge and skills gaps that their retirement or aging-out will continue to create. Fostering an inclusive environment that engages older workers as part of reskilling strategies through initiatives like knowledge sharing and mentoring is a major and invaluable benefit to the current and future workforce and society at large.

Reskilling as a Foundational Element

While changes to how we work may have been a long time coming for those in the know, many leaders have had a hard time determining how exactly to move forward, and that's because there's no one-size-fits-all solution to navigating change. Nonetheless, as the sayings goes, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." Leaders should contemplate the potential of reskilling as a foundational element of corporate culture, transforming it into a monument that bolsters long-term growth and supports critical people-focused initiatives such as retention, engagement, and innovation, especially in the face of significant job uncertainties in the future.

Are you ready to scale your HR and time management strategy with a trusted UKG partner? Visit IN-RGY on the UKG Marketplace to learn more.