Upskilling employee
Image: Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

How do you retain top talent? By upskilling them

5 Apr 2017

For HR professionals, addressing a skills gap while also trying to retain the best employees is a balancing act. Upskilling your current staff could solve both problems.

Good employees need to be engaged. Even with all the benefits and perks they could hope for, top talent will always be looking to progress in their careers.

The best employees will want to learn more, do more and contribute more to their organisation. As a HR professional, it is your job to make sure you can hold onto them.

One of the best ways to retain your top talent and to turn good workers into great ones is to provide training for them. Upskilling employees you already have is much more cost-effective than hiring new ones, and will lead to better output and higher productivity.

But how do you go about upskilling your staff the right way and what will give you the biggest return?

Assess your employees

First, you need to look at the pool of talent you have to work with and find where the skills are. You also need to know what your company could most benefit from.

If you had unlimited funds, what kind of skills would you like to find in your next hire? Decide what ones could be improved upon and where they could be best used.

Next, talk to the employees and find out what they would like to learn. What areas do they want to upskill in? From there, you can matchmake the employee to the skill for the benefit of the company.

Dedicate time to upskilling

Upskilling isn’t just a matter of sending your staff away to do a course in their own time. If one of your goals is to retain talent, then you need to make it worthwhile for them.

It can be challenging to upskill during work hours, but you can plan carefully and fit training around the daily schedule. The rewards will be worth it, and your staff will feel valued that their career progression is being taken into consideration.

Reward new skills

If you want to retain your best employees, they should be rewarded for their new skills. This doesn’t mean a simple treat on top of their free training, it means rewarding them with more challenges and giving them responsibilities to showcase their new abilities.

In time, additional employee skills should create noticeable benefits for the organisation, which will be more deserving of pay increases and perks. These rewards will still be a fraction of the cost compared to hiring and training a completely new team member from scratch.

Develop a mentorship programme

One of the most cost-effective ways to upskill your staff is to create and develop a mentorship programme.

Find where the gaps are in your organisation, select the employees that have the necessary skills and match them to the people that don’t.

Creating a mentorship programme will increase employee engagement between the mentor and the mentee, upskilling one while developing valuable skills for the other.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading