Adjacent Skill-Building: What Is It And How Can You Implement It?

Adjacent Skill-Building: What Is It And How Can You Implement It?
Summary: What is adjacent skill-building and how can you implement it in your company to support employee development? Read on to find out!

4 Steps To Improve Employee Development With Adjacent Skill-Building

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about flexibility in the workplace and successfully transitioning through many roles over the duration of your career. This has become a reality for employees via new skill acquisition processes such as reskilling and upskilling. The process we will be talking about in this article is of a similar nature and is called adjacent skill-building. Let’s dive into what we mean when we talk about adjacent skills, as well as some tips to help your employees develop them.

What Are Adjacent Skills?

In general, the term adjacent skills refers to technical and transferable skills closely related to the ones you already have. They are usually not mentioned as required in job descriptions, but employees who develop them expand their expertise and become more efficient. The most common adjacent skills that employees pursue fall in the fields of marketing, data analytics, technology that applies to their current job, or communication.

There are many reasons why employees invest time in adjacent skill-building. They become more productive, and the prospect of new professional opportunities keeps them motivated. But there’s more to it. With the rapid changes happening in the corporate world, talent shortage has become a real issue for businesses. By keeping up with industry and market trends and expanding their skillset, employees ensure that they are indispensable to their companies. This works both ways, of course, as businesses have also started investing in the development of their employees so that they don’t have to initiate an expensive hiring process every time they need to fill a skill gap.

4 Tips To Implement Adjacent Skill-Building In Your Organization

Here are a few tips to encourage your employees to detect and develop adjacent skills that will make them even more valuable members of your team.

1. Identify Desired Skills

Although skill-building of any kind can be beneficial to your employees, your organization will achieve the best results if there is a plan in place. Specifically, you must detect the areas that require improvement or the new skills that you’re going to need to keep up with the competition or with the industry trends. For example, you might want your marketing team to delve a bit deeper into social media so that they’re utilizing it to its fullest potential.

2. Encourage Learning

An adjacent skill-building program is an opportunity for your company, not an expense you must put up with. So, treat it that way by encouraging employees to spend time on their professional development. Enroll employees in courses and training programs that provide them with valuable knowledge. Opt for online courses that allow for greater personalization and flexibility. Remember to support employees through this process—with more than words, of course. Be understanding when it comes to their workload so that they don’t have to work overtime to keep up with their training.

3. Offer Professional Path Guidance

Oftentimes, employees miss out on Learning and Development opportunities because they haven’t considered which adjacent skills match their goals. You can help them do that by encouraging them to talk about their interests, existing skills, or goals for the future. Then it is up to you (or a team you have put together) to discuss with them which skills they could develop to achieve their goals. This could also be a moment to consider a role change within your organization, based on the competencies these employees have or want to develop. In any case, guiding your employees through this process shows that you care about their development, thus boosting employee satisfaction and productivity.

4. Keep Tabs On Progress

To ensure the success of your adjacent skill-building program, you must create measurable goals. Track which of your employees are taking training programs and how they are progressing. This will help you understand which training programs are most effective, as well as the progress that has been made regarding the various skills that you deemed necessary in the first step. In addition, measuring your employees’ progress will give you a better understanding of the skill gaps you can fill internally, as well as other skills that need to be added to the training schedule.


Evolving technologies have made it necessary for employees to continuously update and improve their skills. As a result, employees are turning to adjacent skill-building to make their current position more relevant or hop on to a different (although related) career. Skill-building in general and adjacent skills more specifically increase employee engagement and productivity rates, and help businesses keep up with ever-changing trends. Hopefully, the tips we shared in this article will help you implement a successful employee development program that will strengthen the competencies and potential of your workforce.