Why Digital Upskilling is Crucial for Business Growth

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Why Digital Upskilling is Crucial for Business Growth

Driven by an increased need for talent with technical skills and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are realizing that teaching their current employees new skills is the optimal choice over hiring new talent.

The answer is digital upskilling. By digital upskilling, we mean training your current employees 

in a specific new skill or to use new digital tools. Why is upskilling important? Simply put, retaining and reskilling your employees in the digital space will lead to happier employees and better business outcomes.

How digital upskilling can combat the effect of the digital skills gap

The digital skills gap refers to the lack of properly trained candidates to fill positions that businesses need. Over half (54%) of organizations said the digital talent gap is impeding their digital transformation programs. Additionally, their organizations have lost a competitive advantage because of a shortage of digital talent, according to a 2017 report by Capgemini and LinkedIn.

And 55% of digitally talented employees are willing to move to another company with better growth opportunities.

55% of digitally talented employees are willing to move to another company with better growth opportunities

With the prospect of employee attrition looming, companies should make it a business priority to to upskill or reskill their workers. Rather than recruit new workers, employers are increasingly finding that taking a ‘build, not buy’ approach is time- and cost-efficient. This includes outfitting their existing workforce with digital literacy or digital skills.

But, does that mean everyone needs to learn Python? Certainly not! Digital skills are more than just knowing certain coding languages—they also include the ability to evaluate and harness the power of ever changing technology for the good of the company. What your specific team will get the most value from depends on the team’s and company's needs. 

The need for digital upskilling

By taking a proactive approach and updating their current employees’ skills regularly, companies can ensure their workforce is able to do it’s best work. By doing this, they show appreciation for their current employees, which in turn leads to increased employee engagement, retention, and productivity. 

Some companies are upskilling current employees through ‘skill adjacencies.’ This means that they are identifying promising careers that offer higher wages or growth while requiring smaller investments of time and money in retraining, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although this model may be useful for internal processes and knowledge transfer, organizations should keep in mind the digital aspect when it comes to upskilling.

Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 investment of $700 million to retrain 100,000 employees — a third of its U.S. workforce at the time the investment was announced — shows just how important digital upskilling and reskilling is. More and more, today’s workers need skills in data analytics, cybersecurity, multimedia content, and automated systems like chat bots. 

Need help upskilling your workforce? Learn more about Flatiron School for business.

enhanced productivity, employee retention, employee engagement

3 benefits of upskilling your employees

With an eye on digital transformation, companies must ensure that they help employees grow professionally and personally in order to retain and engage them. A comprehensive training strategy can help with retention and engagement as well as enhance productivity.

1. Enhanced Productivity

In an increasingly digital world, digital skills are the key to both the individual's and an organization's innovation, productivity, and growth. While employees gain an edge, they also become more valuable to the organization. 

Employees with expanded skill sets are able to accept more job responsibilities and tasks. They become more impactful, and gain worthwhile experience for their own developments. 

Plus, employees who feel appreciated and share in the values of the company tend to be more productive than those who feel their growth is stunted — employees who feel valued show 56% increase in job performance and are 50% less likely to quit.  

2. Employee Retention

Retaining good talent can be a challenge, and CEOs know well the cost of losing a good employee. According to a CareerBuilder survey, around 60% of U.S. employers have job openings that stay open for an extended period of time. According to Human Resources experts, this results in an average cost to the company of $800,000 annually

Nobody should be surprised that highly talented people aren’t going to stay at a dead-end job. These people will seek other opportunities for lifelong learning and career growth. To combat employee attrition over time, consider investing in upskilling activities and workforce planning. In fact, Gallup finds that organizations that have made a substantial investment in their employees’ development report 21% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

3. Employee Engagement

When employees are engaged, they become more motivated and productive, leading to better business outcomes for the company. However, only 36% of today’s employees are engaged in the workplace according to another article from Gallup. Additionally, 73% of disengaged employees are actively looking for other jobs. 

Of course, employee engagement is directly related to company culture according to CultureIQ — “The stronger a company’s culture, the better employees understand what is expected of them and what they’re working toward.” Cultivating a growth mindset culture with systematic learning, development, and advancement opportunities is a sure fire way to ensure employees are engaged.

Why you should invest in upskilling your employees 

Investing in digital training for employees is a good decision for both employees and business. Overall, upskilled employees:

  • Feel more connected to the company’s mission

  • Are motivated to exceed expectations and hit company goals

  • Buy in to learning and development opportunities that directly impact their professional growth

  • Use their new skills to innovate and solve problems

  • Are committed to developing their career within your organization

Although it may seem daunting, the digital skills gap actually presents an opportunity for savvy businesses to enter the digital space ahead of the curve. According to a McKinsey report, the demand for technological skills will continue rising between 2016 and 2030. 

Skilling initiatives are a great way to fill the skill gap, propel employee performance, and encourage workers to stay with the company for longer. 

To rev up your current digital upskilling program or for a custom learning and development program, Contact us at enterprise@flatironschool.com today!

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