If your company is looking to fill a job vacancy or create a new position, you have two main options: recruit and hire outside talent or promote from within. If you already have an ideal internal candidate, the choice is usually pretty clear-cut. (Although that might leave you with another vacancy to fill!) But if the position requires skills that your existing workforce lacks, you don’t have to rule out internal candidates. A process known as reskilling can unlock untapped potential within your workforce — and it comes with plenty of benefits besides just filling that position.
What is reskilling?
Workforce reskilling is just what it sounds like: training existing employees on new skills they need to move into different roles within your organization. Reskilling can be done on a small scale, with as few as one or two employees who are well-suited for promotion or lateral moves within your company. Or you can implement much larger-scale reskilling programs to address company-wide shifts in job roles — for example, if you’re eliminating some job roles altogether while creating new ones to better adapt to changes within your industry.
In most cases, reskilling will be just one part of your company’s overall talent development strategy. Done right, reskilling will complement your recruitment strategy in order to ensure that you have the right people in the right roles across your company.
The benefits of reskilling
Reskilling benefits your employees and your company, in both obvious and more surprising ways. Here are some of the most important benefits of implementing a reskilling program:
1. Find candidates for super-specialized or difficult-to-fill positions
Some jobs are harder to fill than others. This is especially true if:
- You’re in a niche industry
- You’re in a new or developing market category
- Your industry is undergoing a lot of change — for example, a shift to greater automation
- You’re facing an industry-wide shortage of skilled professionals
In this case, identifying existing employees who have the aptitude and desire to learn new skills can help your company avoid chronic staffing shortages in technical, specialized or other tough-to-fill positions.
2. Attract better job candidates
It may seem strange that a program designed to help re-allocate internal employees would also help you recruit strong external candidates. The reality is that investing in reskilling says a lot about your company’s culture. According to a 2022 survey from Deloitte, 29% of both millennials and Gen Z workers chose their current employer because of “learning and development opportunities.” In fact, this was their number two reason for choosing a job, coming behind only a “good work/life balance.”
Especially in a time when artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies are rapidly reshaping the career landscape, it’s important for job-seekers to know that a company will work to train and retain its employees as roles become outdated.
3. Reduce turnover and improve retention
Losing good employees is costly in terms of time, money and workforce morale. There are a lot of ways companies can manage employee turnover rates — and reskilling is a major one. One of the main reasons people leave their jobs is to advance their careers by taking on a more senior role at another company. If your company offers reskilling programs, your employees won’t necessarily need to leave in order to get ahead.
Reskilling also has a positive impact on your workforce as a whole. By demonstrating that you’re willing to invest in your employees’ success and job satisfaction, you can boost morale and employee loyalty across the board.
4. Stay ahead of industry shifts
Constant technological innovation is affecting almost every aspect of our lives — and the workplace is no exception. According to a panel of experts at the 2023 World Economic Forum, 1 billion jobs are “liable to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade.” Chances are good that many of the skill sets your business relies on today will become obsolete or undergo major changes in the coming decades. Taking a proactive approach to reskilling your workforce can keep your company competitive in this rapidly changing landscape.
5. Save time and money
Hiring new employees is both expensive and time-consuming — and even if you think you’ve found the perfect recruit, there is no guarantee that they’ll stick around long enough or perform at a high enough level to pay back that investment.
An effective reskilling program also requires an investment, but working with internal employees offers more known variables that help minimize the risk. If you focus on cost-effective methods of helping your employees build their skills — like mentorship or job shadowing — you can target your most promising internal candidates without straining your resources. If you need to implement a larger-scale reskilling program to address skill gaps across your workforce, be sure you have a clear understanding of the return on investment (ROI). Chances are good that a successful reskilling program will pay for itself many times over.
Summing it up
The old adage of “hire for attitude, train for skill” has never been more relevant than it is today. Businesses across a wide spectrum of industries are undergoing an incredible amount of change when it comes to hiring, retaining, and utilization of human resources. Skills that were critically important a few years ago are no longer valuable, and the demand for new skills is constantly growing. With intentionally designed reskilling programs, employers will be able to identify high-potential individuals and move them into positions where they can make the greatest impact while enjoying high levels of employee satisfaction — and create a culture that’s able to continually adapt to fit the workforce needs of the future.
April brings a passionate focus on organizational transformation and employee development to TWI Institute. Her experience includes several roles in Healthcare, where she implemented Lean and Six Sigma principles across a variety of industries resulting in high-performing teams.