Skills Development For Remote Teams: What Is Upskilling And Why Is It Essential For Company Growth?

How Can Upskilling Training Benefit Your Organization?
Summary: We are currently experiencing a so-called war for talent, in which employees demand more from their employers. They can work remotely and be productive at the same time and are eager to learn new skills or improve their current ones.

How Can Upskilling Training Benefit Your Organization?

Millennials make up around 35% of the US labor force [1] — unsurprisingly, they are also partial to working from home. According to this survey [2], 84% of Millennials consider that remote work important. So whether workers choose to be fully remote or hybrid, it’s clear that businesses have a new challenge: continuing to offer quality training opportunities no matter where employees are located to ensure company growth.

This is an even more pressing issue, as almost nine in ten executives and managers have said that their companies already face skills gaps or expect them to happen in the next five years [3]. When factoring in the fear of redundancy, with 39% of workers saying that they think their job will become obsolete in five years [4], you have the perfect opportunity to do something about this problem starting today. That something is called upskilling, and it’s going to solve major issues in the years to come.

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What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling means improving employees’ hard and soft skills in order to fill current and future skills gaps. Through this training strategy, employees learn new skills to help them grow in their current roles.

For example, an employee may start as a Java developer but learn another programming language in order to keep up with their job demands and unlock future work opportunities.

Upskilling is essential since all companies experience skills gaps to some degree — and since the work landscape is changing rapidly, it’s getting harder and harder to close them. According to Gallup, 57% of US employees [5] would like to update their skills, especially in the Computer, Business, Management and Military industries. Unsurprisingly, workers whose jobs were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are most interested in this opportunity.

What Can Upskilling Do For Your Organization’s Growth?

Upskilling training has many benefits both for individuals. Most importantly, it also contributes to overall organizational growth by creating a continuous learning environment in which remote employees adapt quickly to new challenges.

Build A More Flexible Team

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the work landscape and shows no signs of slowing down. This means that employees will need to be more creative, better problem-solvers, and open-minded when it comes to upgrading their current skills if they want to stay relevant.

The solution is building comprehensive skills development programs so that workers are always engaged in learning, even if it’s taking a self-paced course to improve their Excel skills.

These competencies add up over time, and, more than that, it allows you to create a flexible team in which employees adapt quickly to new requirements. Adapting to change becomes embedded in the culture, something that they want to do, and learning is seen as a work perk rather than just another task.

Attract And Retain Great Talent

Since workers are no longer tethered to an office, and commuting to work is no longer an issue, they’re more likely to prioritize other job benefits. Forty-eight percent of US employees are willing to switch jobs for an upskilling opportunity, which makes it clear that workers take the job market relevancy factor very seriously.

For companies, having a good upskilling program also helps keep retention high since talent won’t grow out of their jobs fast. This is essential for company growth because you need employees who are there for more than a year or two — those with invaluable company knowledge and skills that also teach others.

Upskilling is a major employee benefit that can be done during work hours through just-in-time learning and mentoring opportunities, among other instructional methods that don’t require overtime.

Increase Productivity

The average career length is about 40 years, yet the half-life of a skill is about five years [6]. This isn’t great news for businesses as they risk redundancies and major productivity losses.

Upskilling is one of the best ways to avoid this, as remote employees can continuously upgrade, becoming more motivated in the process. Seventy-one percent of employees [7] agree that upskilling has had a positive impact on their job satisfaction.

Moreover, upskilling can contribute to a sense of safety in the workplace, as a strategic and long-term skills development plan lessens the additional stress of potential redundancies in the future.

A Solid Talent Pipeline

According to SHRM, many employers estimate the total cost to hire a new employee can be three to four times the position's salary. On the flip side, investing in internal mobility is less costly and risky.

This is not news for companies that struggle to find highly qualified employees to fill key roles.

Additionally, the search for the right candidates can definitely put a strain on the company’s resources (financial or human). Often, a job vacancy means that teams must take on the additional workload, often without additional compensation. This creates a snowball effect of more frustration and more resignations.

To avoid this and manage hiring resources more effectively, use upskilling to build a highly qualified talent pipeline of external and internal candidates. This way, appointing an employee to another position saves money, and the difference can be invested in upskilling training.

Upskilling Training Is Essential For Company Growth

Digital transformation makes upskilling a necessity, not really a nice-to-have option. It also forces companies to adapt in order to grow (in some cases, even to survive). As a result, employees need to either seek new roles or upgrade the skills they currently have in order to keep up with the growing demands.

Upskilling training can help you build a more adaptable team, attract and retain the best talent, boost productivity and rely more on talent mobility. It’s an essential skills development strategy that directly contributes to company growth.


[1] Millennials in the labor force, projected 2019‒29

[2] Millennials drive remote work push

[3] Beyond hiring: How companies are reskilling to address talent gaps

[4] Hopes and fears 2021

[5] The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow

[6] Careers and learning: Real time, all the time

[7] The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow