How to Upskill Employees: 6 Practical Tips for Your Business

In today’s rapidly changing world, upskilling employees has fast become one of the best ways to adapt to change and remain competitive. In fact, CEOs who’ve made substantial progress on upskilling their staff were over two times more optimistic about their company's future success.

Today, upskilling employees is one of the top four focus areas of learning and development (L&D), with 62% of CEOs considering it a priority. Yet despite organizations seeing the merit of these programs, many have failed to establish them due to budget constraints and uncertainty on which skills to focus on.

However, getting started is much easier – and cheaper – than you may think. Here are six practical strategies to upskill employees on-the-job that will prepare them for the future of work without distracting them from their daily responsibilities .

1. Upskill Employees with Change Projects and Stretch Assignments

Change projects and stretch assignments are effective ways to upskill employees on the job. Change projects are internal projects tied to important business goals within a larger change initiative. These are incredibly effective at improving change adoption and accelerating implementations. Plus, they’re an excellent way to help employees go beyond their existing skill sets and upskill.

Meanwhile, stretch assignments challenge employees to go beyond their current role. Both change projects and stretch assignments provide an opportunity for employees to develop new skills and deepen their expertise.

To implement these strategies, companies can identify areas for improvement or innovation and assemble teams to work on the project. Alternatively, they can provide employees with a project or task that aligns with their interests and strengths. Not only does this approach contribute to organizational success, but it also fosters employee satisfaction and retention.

Volonte’s enterprise change management platform facilitates employee involvement in change projects through the Project Board. This streamlined system democratizes access to change projects, allowing all employees to apply seamlessly and quickly based on their skills and interests, empowering them to become change drivers instead of passengers.


2. Deepen Expertise with Job Rotations

Job rotations involve moving employees to different roles within the organization to broaden their knowledge and skills. This method helps employees learn different aspects of the business, gain new perspectives, and develop transferable skills. It also helps companies fill skill gaps, retain talent, and build a versatile workforce.

To get teams started with job rotations, HR can identify areas that would benefit from different perspectives and develop a plan to appropriately onboard an employee who has expressed interest into that role. This can be through regular rotations or a structured program with mentoring and coaching. When implemented, job rotations have the power not only to upskill employees but also build a more adaptable team.

3. Expand Skillsets with Courses and Certificates

Courses and certifications can also be effective methods for upskilling employees. These programs offer structured learning opportunities that allow employees to acquire new skills and knowledge in a more formal setting. There are endless online courses that employees can take at their own pace, in the comfort of their office or home.

Companies can implement these programs by identifying relevant courses or certifications that align with their business objectives and providing employees with the necessary resources and time to complete them. They can also consider reimbursing employees for any course or certificate completion fee.

4. Help Employees Acquire New Skills with Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is another effective method for upskilling employees. It involves pairing an employee with a more experienced colleague or someone from another department to allow the employee to observe and learn from their day-to-day work activities. This can help employees develop new skills, gain a better understanding of a role, and learn best practices from an accomplished professional. It can also help employees cross paths with an undiscovered skill or passion.

Companies can create job shadowing opportunities by first identifying employees who are willing to be shadowed and pairing them with employees who would benefit from the experience. Providing feedback and support throughout the process can ensure that employees get the most out of this valuable learning opportunity.

5. Bite-Sized Learning: Tiny Lessons, Big Impact

Bite-sized learning is delivered through small, easily consumable pieces of information or media, and offers a convenient solution for upskilling employees with limited time for learning. This approach allows them to quickly absorb knowledge during short breaks or on-the-go, maximizing their efficiency. These versatile tools can be effectively implemented across various industries, including healthcare and retail, and offer benefits like increased engagement, improved knowledge retention, and efficient training processes. You can utilize training modules created in-house or leverage microlearning resources available online.

On the Volonte platform, employees get access to curated content in bite-sized formats, making upskilling more accessible than ever. The Volonte Newsfeed provides a rich library of insights on workplace and career change, helping employees get in the right mindset for change. Meanwhile, Playbooks offer quick 5-minute lessons covering essential knowledge areas and crucial skills pertinent to your business, ranging from change management to ERP implementations. This way, employees stay ahead on their professional development journey.

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6. Turn Upskilling into Play with Gamification

Finally, gamification is a fun and engaging way to upskill employees on the job. Employees say gamification makes them feel 89% more productive and 88% happier at work. This approach involves incorporating game-like elements, such as rewards, badges, and leaderboards into the learning process to motivate and incentivize employees to learn new skills.

To incorporate gamification into daily work routines, companies can use online learning platforms that include game-like elements, such as quizzes and challenges, into the learning process. By making learning fun and engaging, employees are more likely to stay motivated and committed to developing new skills.

Given the constantly shifting business landscape of today, upskilling has become a necessity for companies looking to stay competitive. From job rotations to gamification, there are various practical strategies for upskilling employees on the job. By investing in employee development, companies can build a versatile workforce, retain top talent, and contribute to their overall success. Now is the time to take steps to establish upskilling programs and ensure that your employees are prepared for the future of work.