As the world seeks to resume some semblance of normality many organisations are now faced with the challenge of finding new ways forward in this post pandemic world; including transitioning into the virtual space and assessing the value of upskilling their workforce.
Here at VTT, we have been delivering virtual training for 5 years; pre-pandemic. We are a company that was forged from the belief that virtual learning for all is, and always was, the way forward.
And yet 79% of CEOs say that a lack of key skills is threatening the growth of their organisation. That was even before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Some employees may find that their jobs have changed; they may no longer be working in the same location as they once were. How is that going to alter their ways of working, or productivity levels?
It is a turbulent time and while some tough decisions may be required by many organisations, perhaps there is a simpler answer.
Why not upskill your workforce?
Consider reading: Why Getting Upskilled for the Future is a Great Idea
What is upskilling?
Upskilling your workforce is the process of teaching current employees new skills with which to do their jobs. Normally, the need to upskill comes from technological advances which create new job roles which in turn require different skill sets.
Traditionally, organisations opt to train existing staff to develop new skill sets in order to fill these newly created roles. Upskilling creates development opportunities for the existing workforce, allowing for needs to be met, without requiring an impact on current staff.
With the world having gone through a massive virtual shift, the need for upskilling to work effectively in the virtual environment has occured on a global scale for a range of jobs that previously, would never have been considered to have a virtual alternative.
In order to maintain employee productivity, efficiency and loyalty, these new training needs must be met.
CEOs and CHROs ask Learning and Development (L&D) to upskill and reskill employees as quickly and effectively as possible. Yet, 70% of employees report that they do not have control of the skills they feel they need for their jobs.
What are the steps to upskill your staff?
Step 1: Identify your business direction
Assessing your business needs and considering how your organisation is going to work in this new world is important to establish early on.
How do you currently facilitate your Learning & Development (L&D) needs? Before COVID-19, did you primarily offer group face-to-face (F2F) sessions or a host of blended learning programmes? Are your employees used to being co-located or locationally diverse?
Think of this as establishing a new business plan and direction; having a clear picture of the desired business goals and objectives will make it much easier to roll out this plan to other colleagues further down the road.
One of our key principles is; always plan with your purpose in mind. Be sure on what outcome you are looking to achieve.
Why virtual training? Watch this video to see how interactive virtual training puts face-to-face training in the shade.
Step 2: Consider what skills your business needs
Deciding what skills are required from your employees is vitally important. Establishing this early allows you to plan out which employees or teams need upskilling, in what areas and how to do so. Being clear on these goals is important.
The top skills that organisations require are both critical and mostly transferable; examples are adaptability, social skills, problem solving, resilience and cognitive thinking. These are all broad and versatile areas, offering employees the freedom to apply themselves across a multitude of roles and job requirements within the same skill sets.
After identifying the skills required by the business, and potentially the more specific needs of individual teams, it is time to look at including these key areas in the upskilling plan.
Step 3: Determine which employees must be upskilled
Unfortunately, many organisations will have some tough decisions ahead as to who they will invest in and how their workforce will be made up.
Once the skills that are required have been identified, gathering information on which employees are suitable for upskilling via team leaders is a key course of action. This allows managers to discuss with their teams the best way forward on individual levels; e.g. who is most suitable for upskilling and which employees might have additional applicable skills that the organisation isn’t necessarily aware of.
Click here if your employees need some persuading: why to get upskilled with a virtual Train the Trainer Programme.
Step 4: Train the Staff
Now that all the planning and identifying has been done, the next step is to actually commence with the training.
Creating tailored learning journeys for each employee who is to be upskilled can be a great option. Similarly, creating individual learning plans can help track and monitor employee progress to keep them motivated to stay on track and it is also key to provide regular check-ins so L&D can provide ample support.
This is where virtual training has become a fantastic alternative to F2F during the pandemic; allowing organizations to efficiently and effectively train and upskill their staff. If you have the budget, it can be worth investing in having personalised learning content along with bespoke design for your organisation by external consultants.
For example, here at VTT, we offer our first-class services to design and/or deliver bespoke virtual training that suits your needs. For more information, visit our Virtual Design section of our website, or get in touch with us to discuss more today.
Work with your HR and L&D colleagues to create a toolkit of the skills you decided upon in the previous stages. Implement them as part of your new post-Covid learning and development plan, offering employees the opportunity to learn critical skills right from the start. This will not only help foster a stronger workforce, but also will most likely increase staff loyalty and reduce organisational turnover overall.
Step 5: Onboard the newly skilled employees
Once colleagues have gained the new skills they require, it is important to create an onboarding plan to help them ease into their new roles, or the new ways of working. This can seem like an unnecessary extra step, but even if they are working in the same team, or have only minorly transitioned into a different role or way of working, it is good practice to give them all the support they need.
Employee wellbeing is at a crucial point right now, due to the pandemic. Investing time, helping to make them feel settled and valued when they return to work and offering support and understanding, will make them happier and more motivated.
If your organisation has the flexibility and resources to follow through, upskilling is a fantastic option to pursue. Ensure you plan thoroughly and with purpose, in order to implement strategies which provide the right tools and techniques that your staff need in order to upskill into their new roles and ways of working.
If you would like to learn more on how you can support your employees to upskill into digital learning.