Hiring new employees to fill skills gaps can be costly and time consuming when it comes to filling emerging tech and digital roles. A Gallup survey reported that the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from 50% to 200% of the employee’s annual salary. That’s why focusing on team development and upskilling your current employees is often a better solution.
A Gallup survey also reports that “the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.”
As critical as upskilling is, it’s important to identify potential challenges to initiating a company-wide upskill before you get started.
Here are some of the most common challenges when focusing on team development and upskilling, along with recommendations for how to mitigate them.
Common Challenges with Team Development
When considering strategies for upskilling, it’s important to note you will likely face some hurdles. Proactively identifying what these possible challenges are and what you can do to minimize them will help ensure your upskilling plans go as smoothly as possible.
Challenge #1: Unclear Roles and Responsibilities Across Your Team
Before you start creating a plan for team development and upskilling, you’ll need to know exactly what your current skill pool looks like.
Offering enterprise courses is hugely beneficial to your staff and the company, but only if you’re addressing specific needs. Before working on upskilling your team take the time to clearly define current roles and responsibilities for each one of your employees.
You may have different roles and skill levels within your team, so you’ll want to spell out the requirements and future skills needed by each member based on their role.
For example, with a development team, you’ll have entry-level as well as mid-level and management tiles, as well as a variety of roles based on specific skills such as Front End Web Developer, Full Stack Web Developer and UX Designer. For each title and role, you’ll need to have a detailed understanding of the roles and responsibilities it includes to help you ensure you’re focused on the right areas for your upskilling programs.
From there, you can consider the following:
- What skills in the team are most in need of development?
- How will these new skills contribute to meeting short and long-term business objectives?
- How will these new skills impact roles within the team?
Challenge #2: Finding the Time to Prioritize Learning
Team development doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an investment in your workforce, that requires time to allow them to learn and build new skills.
A strong upskilling strategy will take into account time away from regular duties, time spent on learning and time to implement the new skills. It may be necessary to rebalance workloads as different teams are upskilling
When planning for how much time will be spent on upskilling, you’ll also have to consider how and when your team will put these new skills into practice. Expecting them to know how to do it all after they’ve just upskilled is unrealistic.
Consider having your strategy include some time-related goals such as setting 30/60/90 day milestones. That approach will enable your learners to gain confidence and get practice before they’re expected to work at full capacity using their new skills
Challenge #3: Employees Aren’t Engaged in Learning
As valuable as learning is, not everyone will jump at the chance to add to their skills. It’s estimated that one in three employees in the US. are engaged, which can be an obstacle to getting all of your employees on board with team development.
To get your team engaged in learning, it’s important to start from a place of understanding. Share with them why upskilling is needed, and how it can benefit them directly. Answer their questions, and provide the opportunity to share what areas of the business they’re most interested in learning more skills for.
Keep in mind that a lack of engagement with learning can be the result of not fostering a strong learning culture across the organization. If this is the case, there are steps you can take to make improvements in this area.
Finally, when building your strategy, consider the needs of your employees. Not everyone has the same learning style, and what works for a visual learner may not be the best fit for an auditory one. By choosing enterprise courses suited to more than one learning style you’ll open the door to creating greater engagement for team development.
Challenge #4: Ensuring Continuous Learning
Team development and upskilling aren’t one-and-done pursuits, so as you make plans and build your strategy, you’ll need to consider both your current and potential future needs.
In the tech industry, things are constantly changing, so some skills can become outdated quickly. To prepare for ongoing team development, when doing your workforce planning consider building specific periods for employees to focus on upskilling. This can be done monthly or quarterly, or at any other appropriate interval. The most important thing is to actually plan for it.
Prioritize a Strategy for Team Development
If upskilling is a priority, don’t make upskilling and team development activities that happen “whenever.” Plan for it, promote it with your teams and curate a culture where ongoing learning is the norm.
Having a strategy for team development and upskilling doesn’t only benefit your company in terms of skills improvement. By committing time and resources to upskilling, you can build a culture that focuses on continuous learning and employee engagement — all while positioning your teams for maximum success.
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