The Five Truths About Upskilling During the Great Resignation

These pandemic times of high job vacancies and low unemployment rates have led to what is known as The Great Resignation. Companies have had to re-evaluate how to retain their talent pool, reduce turnover, provide appealing work conditions, and hire quality candidates in an intensely competitive market. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey (March 2022), it finds that low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work were among the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs in 2021.

Many see their new employment as an improvement from their previous position, primarily filling the gaps of more money, opportunities for advancement and job flexibility. On the other hand, businesses have been scrambling to be more competitive by upskilling their organization AND their employees to create a win-win environment that creates job satisfaction and supports the bottom line. Coaching mid and upper-level management to coach their teams is crucial to supporting the upskilling process.

What Upskilling Is and Is Not
Upskilling is positioning people, strategy, and results for personal, professional, and organizational growth, as well as workforce development. Upskilling builds upon existing skills of the individual and/or the organization to fill gaps that lead to productive growth and meeting marketplace needs. In contrast, reskilling adds new skills, especially when automation or innovation replaces individual skillsets. Upskilling keeps existing teams productive and is appealing to new employees as a growth path to build upon their current skills. Goal setting, mentoring, job-shadowing and formal training are ways to implement upskilling within a corporate strategic plan for individual and company growth.

Why it’s Important
The gaps in skills are often caused by an aging workforce, early retirement from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and rapid developments in technology. The necessary skills need to be replenished to decrease employee turnover, increase loyalty, and improve job satisfaction. Upskilling also helps a company quickly respond to marketplace changes to remain competitive and sharpen its competitive edge. Upskilling often provides a clear path for career growth, clarity in required skills for advancement and how to achieve them, timeframes for pay increases, discover, or re-discover talents and abilities, as well as short and long-term health benefits that come with job satisfaction. Coaching managers to better coach their teams creates buy-in, improves overall communication, builds loyalty and builds respect in a highly desirable workplace environment.

How it Benefits an Organization
Investments in upskilling positions an organization’s workforce for consistent growth, reduced turnover, and corporate loyalty due to a defined and clear career path for employees and increases in market share from more effective execution strategies. Most of all, upskilling secures a trained workforce that does not drastically react to
recessions, work shortages, and the Great Resignation, thus maintaining a competitive edge. Investments in human capital take considerable time and money that can easily walk out the door as intellectual property, trade secrets and other competitive advantages resigning employees carry with them. This often makes them even more appealing to competitors. Investments in upskilling benefits not only the organization who holds on to valuable talent, but also the employees who make up the value of the organization.

What an Effective Upskilling Strategy Looks Like
An effective upskilling strategy incorporates communication from leadership and employees to determine what skills exist in the employee work pool and what skills are necessary to meet the organization’s need. The gap between the two is what needs to be upskilled. Executive coaching for mid and upper-level managers empowers them to empower their teams, benefitting the company and themselves with personal/professional growth. Technology, in various forms, will likely be used for cost effectiveness, convenience and speed. This may include individual, or group based virtual courses and online learning, mentoring, coaching and microlearning.

Thus, the five truths necessary for successful upskilling are:
1. Assess your current needs and historical lessons learned
2. Develop a Strategic Plan, incorporating people from all sides of the organization
3. Execute the plan in short phases or sprints to be able to make necessary improvements quickly and respond to marketplace changes to remain competitive
4. Monitor results, document impacts, show appreciation & celebrate wins in an inclusive culture
5. End training, review results, determine any necessary changes for next round.

Jacqueline Grant is the Founder/CEO of The Management Academy, a full-circle service Business Management, Marketing, Professional Development Consulting & Career Coaching Firm who helps entrepreneurs improve their business development processes and build a skilled workforce. As a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and former VP of Professional Growth for the 4000 members of the Project Management Institute-Atlanta, she has worked with professionals from Fortune 500 companies and corporate headquarters of major brands to provide professional development training. She holds a BA in Psychology with minor in Communications Management and a dual MBA in Project management and IT Management.

As creator of the TrainTheTrades(TM) System, she assists construction trades with filling their skilled labor pool shortages. Jacqueline has been featured on numerous business podcasts, summits and live speaking engagements including Business Power Hour and Business Radio X.

Jacqueline is available to comment on Business Management Process Improvement, Strategic Marketing, Project Management, Workforce Career Transition and Professional Leadership Development, especially during the Great Resignation.