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Upskilling your workforce is more than an employee benefit - it's a key to growth

Ashwani, L&D Head at Provana speaks about the importance of upskilling employees and how to do it extensively with real-time examples...

It's safe to say that upskilling and reskilling are now considered an important business imperative. Employees are focused on their growth like never before and employers are realising the value of L&D. There’s never been a more critical time to enable employees to define and achieve their career goals with the impact of the pandemic in consideration.

As reported by AIHR, according to Udemy, 38% of the workforce was being upskilled or reskilled in 2020, which is a 24% increase compared to 2019. Learning allowances, good culture, and scope for career growth are some of the significant employee benefits that attract right talent. We all understand the importance of it but the less talked about are the struggles of it - lack of time, skill gap for future, and identifying what exactly employees need. In this article, we want to bring those to light with real-time examples.

To start with, why should organisations consider upskilling employees and spending on L&D programs?

Benefits of upskilling employees

Benefits of upskilling employees for an organisation

Improved productivity

The primary reason for organisations to train and upskill is improved productivity. Adept employees have higher productivity powered by increased knowledge of the industry, product and service.

Improved employee engagement

With the pandemic, there has been a huge disconnect between employers and employees. With everyone working alone from home, engagement is at stake. Upskilling programs are a great way to engage employees with the organization.

Increase retention

Employees who feel that their company is focused on their personal and professional growth are likely to retain. Career and skill development are among the top factors that instill loyalty. Overall, this helps companies reduce attrition and build stronger relationships with their employees.

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A foolproof employee retention strategy in 2023 for HR practitioners

A foolproof employee retention strategy in 2023 for HR practitioners

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Trending and current strategies used in L&D and upskilling across all industries in India

There has been a rise in the adoption of e-learning platforms. This became the most sustainable solution at disposal for companies that intended to upskill.

The pandemic encouraged companies to have mental wellness sessions. With work-life-balance blurring, employees were worked up and it took a toll on their health. Companies can expect employees to be productive and focus on growth only when they have mind space for it. Subsequently, we have been seeing many initiatives taken by companies to support employee mental health and physical wellness.

SuggestedWork-life-balance tips

How to come up with a comprehensive program for your company?

There are two ways to assess your current state that will help draft an upskilling program.

  1. Assess employees’ knowledge with tests, analyse their performance and productivity reports. Set parameters will help you gauge the status quo.
  2. For an unquantifiable professional skill, we take a 360-degree feedback report. To test someone on their leadership skill, we talk to their peer, team managers, leadership team and anyone they interact with on a regular basis. We compare it with the expectations and then build our models accordingly.

Suggested: HRs contribution in skill development of employees

How to do this at scale?

An apt-sized L&D team is a must if we want all learning initiatives to be successful. The first approach is simple and can be upscaled easily. The challenge lies with the 2nd approach when you have to study unquantifiable skill sets.

To explain with an example, at Provana, we have a program called SkillUp that aims to help employees develop professional skills based on the roles and levels they are in. The core aim of this initiative is to help employees to be the best versions of themselves. The Program is available for all; from associates to the leadership team.

  1. We segregated the categories of skills that needed to be assessed
  2. An extensive questionnaire was prepared and distributed.
  3. Adequate sample size was decided which included all types of performers including bottom, average, and top performers across all roles and levels.
  4. Multiple focus groups were conducted with the participants
  5. One-on-one sessions were conducted with respective supervisors, heads, managers and leadership teams to understand the expectations.
  6. Reviewed the current skillset required for their job description
  7. Post these activities, the entire data was analyzed to do identify the specific training needs
  8. Then an extensive training program was prepared for all

Learning on the go in silos (LMS) vs collaborative programs

LMS has better reach and makes it easy to learn and cover a huge number of employees. It’s preferred among employees as it encourages them to upskill at their own pace and convenience. However, Learner engagement is recognized as the prime area of improvement for virtual training in 2021 by the highest percentage (19.38%) of participants according to Key Blanchard 2021 Trends Report.

To deal with this,

  1. Platforms can gamify e-learning content as it is more engaging ad encouraging.
  2. Make upskilling a part of the appraisal - employees not only get to upskill but also are rewarded brownie points in their appraisal forms.

We use FutureSkills eLearning platform for our tech team. It is a hybrid LMS platform where we can upload content and also access technical trends, which are hard to find on the internet or other platforms. Our tech team is accessing this platform to learn about Machine learning, .NET, Artificial Intelligence, etc. In this platform, we can also check how many learning hours are spent and some other interesting insights. Other teams use Moodle’s LMS that offers high flexibility and customization.    

Learning on the go

Collaborative programs are much more engaging as it involves a lot of real-time interaction among the participants. This is more holistic comparatively and can be on any genre - process, system, or behavioral training. LMS works better for functional training most of the time.

Our collaborative programs include Advance Technology Group (ATG) and SkillUp, where our leaders and other experienced internal team members share their current work experiences, case studies and learnings with the employees. A vast exchange of learning takes place in these sessions which helps employees to work effectively with better knowledge from these sessions. As much as e-learning, social learning is also on the rise; after all, we are social creatures.

Both LMS and collaborative approaches are great for upskilling employees! It depends on the type of training or upskilling the company is looking for.

Future of L&D at Provana

The coming year seems to be exciting for L&D at Provana. In 2021, most of our employees were working from home and hence the emphasis was on self-learning via LMS. As we are slowly back to offices now both collaborative and self-based learning will be the focus.

We have planned to launch,

  1. Bootcamp for Product Teams – An extensive learning program with an emphasis on product, process and skill development.
  2. Learning Awards – To inculcate the learning culture within the organization
  3. Let’s Connect – A program to work towards the mental well-being of employees
  4. Competency Mapping - This will aid in hiring the right candidate with the right competency.
  5. LDP (Leadership Development Program)

About Ashwani

Experienced Training head with a demonstrated history of working in the retail, hospitality, service and IT industry. Proficient in soft skills, training needs analysis, product training, implementing new systems, training delivery and program management.

Connect with Ashwani on LinkedIn

About Provana

Headquartered in Chicago, Provana is the leading provider of Business Process Management (BPM) and Digital Technology Platforms.

Leveraging its global workforce of more than 1400 employees, Provana provides solutions that reduce processing costs and accelerate the adoption of digital capabilities through our platforms. In the legal market, Provana has successfully deployed a range of solutions to over 200 law firms throughout the country.

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