The Best Ways to Upskill Staff for SMEs05 Jun 2018
Upskilling isn’t about simply training employees to be competent in their current role. Upskilling is the continual act of enabling talent to develop skills that are not necessarily directly related to their current role. Take a look at our recent article: ‘The benefits of upskilling employees’ to read more about the multiple benefits to organisations.
For many SMEs financial budgets are often a concern, so devoting a portion of an already tight budget to upskilling talent that may not directly improve their current job function may seem like a gamble. However, there are ways to begin the process of upskilling employees that won’t cost a great deal, and we’ve outlined some these below to help you get started.
There are many free digital resources and courses that enable employees to learn alongside their job. This is a great way to enable employees to discover if they would like to learn more about a specific area. This doesn’t cost you anything and you will soon start to reap the benefits. For example, Hubspot’s Academy and Google Digital Garage both offer free courses. This is not considering printed resources such as books and case studies. We often neglect these types of resources, but they hold a wealth of knowledge. For the younger generation most of these resources can be found online and in PDF formats.
Often we overlook the amount of knowledge that we have within our own organisation. We often have devoted Marketing, Accountancy, HR and Sales teams that have a wealth of knowledge within their field. Any employee that has an interest within these fields can be linked to a mentor that they can shadow or have one-to-one sessions to pick up new skills. These mentors can even run mini training courses for employees that wish to attend.
Hire Curious People
One of the key principals to upskilling is having employees that wish to better themselves. When hiring new staff explore the idea of learning new skills that are not directly related to their role. Ask to see if they picked up new skills on their own and get a feel if they are curious to learn more. This is the sort of attitude that helps develop the talent that will enable your SME to compete with the ‘big boys’. Once you have this talent, nurture it by partnering individuals up with leaders or provide resources to help them develop themselves further.
Often we see rewards as monetary based, but this does not have to be the case. Rewarding the effort of learning can be as simple as allowing extra time on a lunch break for study, letting employees leave early on a Friday to complete a course or even giving them acknowledgement within the business that they have completed a course. These types of reward will help to improve engagement and reinforce upskilling within the business.
Personal Development Plans
Giving employees a personal development plan in which they can create areas of competence that they wish to work on brings the emphasis of upskilling on to them. Empowering your employees to develop their own plan is a key step in creating a workforce that consistently wants to develop.
On a daily basis many of us are in contact with partners and suppliers that help us with certain aspects of our business. A great way of getting different skills into your SME is to invite one of those to come into your organisation and talk about their skills and give advice on what they do within their role. Many organisations are happy to send their top talent to speak with you because of the networking possibilities as well as the interpersonal relationships you have built up with them. These can take place over an extended lunch break and cost nothing, except maybe a free lunch! From these events your employees can discover if the areas discussed are something they wish to explore further.
We’re not ignoring the fact that many employers and employees will want or need to use accredited training courses to secure certifications for certain skills. For an SME, that can mean a big commitment in terms of financial investment. However, by encouraging upskilling, an employee can be given the opportunity to show that they are committed to developing their skills whilst remaining with the organisation, which could help their employer decide whether further training is a worthwhile investment.