The Great Resignation: Could upskilling and reskilling be the solution?
Interviews / Opinions

The Great Resignation: Could upskilling and reskilling be the solution?

, Former Content Marketing Manager

The economy has been through some serious ups and downs over the last two years. First, it was employers letting employees go at the outset of the pandemic. Then, things turned around and companies began to settle into the “new normal.” And now, in a maybe not-so-surprise twist, it’s employees voluntarily leaving their jobs in what’s become known as “The Great Resignation.

From frontline personnel to essential workers to white-collar professionals, people are leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers. Some industry analysts saw it coming—even if they hadn’t predicted a pandemic would be the cause. For others, it came as a complete surprise. But ready or not, businesses are now dealing with a possible worker shortage.

The costs of recruiting and hiring new employees can be daunting. A better bet is to retain your top talent—and reskilling and upskilling are powerful tools to help you do just that.

Is it really the Great Resignation?

The name itself seems dramatic. Is this shift anything out of the ordinary compared to normal market turnover patterns? The numbers say yes.

In September 2021, 4.4 million American workers left their jobs—that’s 3% of total employment. Last year, the respective number was 3.3 million.

This post-pandemic resignation boom is not industry-specific. And it’s not over. About half of the American workforce says they intend to quit within the next 12 months.

So what’s driving these widespread departures?

Why employees are quitting en masse

The industries affected by the Great Resignation have different reasons for turnover. Some of the hardest hit were those on the frontlines of essential work during the pandemic—including the retail, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. Employees are seeking new places because of burnout or because they didn’t feel protected in the jobs they had.

Others, like IT and manufacturing, are suffering fallout because of the changes the pandemic brought to the working landscape. As things shut down and people scrambled to set up remote work, everyone went into survival mode. Priorities changed and people were asked to take on additional work as companies laid off or furloughed colleagues. Work-life balance took a back seat in many instances.

As the economy has opened back up, there are greater opportunities available through remote work. And people are ready to pursue those opportunities.

What they’re looking for

In recent research, TalentLMS in partnership with Workable surveyed employees in the IT/Tech industry about the Great Resignation. Key findings shed some light on why employees quit, as well as what would inspire them to stay where they are.

Respondents cited obvious motivators like salary and flexibility to work from home. But they also reported the following:

  • 41% state limited career progression as the top reason for wanting to quit their job.
  • After salary and benefits, skills development opportunities are the number one thing people look for when choosing a company to work for.
  • 62% say they would be more motivated at work if they had more training and learning opportunities.

Employee development is a key contributor to job satisfaction, and matters to those looking for new positions now.

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Why focus on reskilling and upskilling?

Employees wanting training opportunities and career growth isn’t anything new. And it’s been on many companies’ radars for years. But there are a couple of reasons it’s a bigger priority right now:

  • Show commitment to your employees. If you’re focused exclusively on hiring during this downturn, you risk neglecting current employees. When you put training on hold, you hurt morale—which can lead to more resignations. Preparing employees for the work you’re asking them to do, on the other hand, shows you’re willing to invest in them and want to help them grow with your company.
  • Help people navigate the new normal. Pandemic burnout happens when people feel lost about how to do their jobs. Roles have shifted and the way we do work has changed quickly. Training gets people the skills they need to succeed in their new working environment. And when they’re confident in their jobs, they’re more content.

You can’t afford to view training as an afterthought, a one-time event, or an optional company perk. To make an impact, upskilling and reskilling should be an active part of your employee retention strategy.

5 tips for reskilling and upskilling for a healthier workplace

Your employee development will be most helpful if you focus on strengthening the skills that matter and delivering the training effectively. Here are five tips to help you create a strategy that will re-energize and retain existing employees.

1. Focus on the skills employees need now

Find out what skills your employees need today. Whether you have a fully remote or a hybrid workplace, you want to make sure everyone is confident in doing the work that’s required of them.

That can mean training people on the tech you’re using for virtual work. It can mean offering courses on soft skills that enhance collaboration. Training in communication, virtual work etiquette, and diversity and inclusion can help everyone contribute their best work and feel heard. It can also mean teaching people to manage burnout or stress with courses on mindfulness and wellbeing.

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2. Give employees the skills they’ll need in the future

Training is a way of letting employees know you care about their success and career growth. It should be connected to career growth, promotions, and job mobility. Invest in your people and your business by providing job skills training that prepares employees for future roles.

Start upskilling employees as soon as they’re hired to help them unearth their potential. Prepare team members with leadership training before they’re in leadership roles. Or offer training as people prepare to transition to a different department.

3. Make training (more than) a job benefit

Training should be an included part of the employee experience. Employees shouldn’t have to make a case for training or fight for a budget. They shouldn’t get rewarded for their good performance with a ticket to an annual conference or access to an online library, either.

Instead, show them that learning is a part of your culture by creating a training strategy aligned with company goals and employee needs. Connect regular training to their day-to-day work, and consider offering optional courses that let employees explore new skills and build their abilities.

4. Create a work-friendly training schedule

Employees prioritize personal time now more than ever. You can help reduce burnout and encourage a healthy work-life balance by making sure training happens during regular work hours. Provide dedicated time for learning during the workday.

Or, avoid disrupting jobs by offering self-paced online training that people can complete at their own speed during their downtime. Include microlearning and mobile content for accessible eLearning that fits into busy schedules.

5. Customize training

Gain a competitive edge by tailoring training to employees’ needs. Customize courses to address individual roles or company-specific skills. Build in interactive scenarios where employees address real situations they may face on the job.

You can also customize individual user experiences with LMS features. For example, you could create different training hubs or branches for different departments. Then, when employees log on, they’ll see training content relevant to their specific career path.

One-size-fits-all training works for some needs, but custom learning shows greater support for individual employees’ goals.

The Great Resignation: How upskilling and reskilling help | TalentLMS

Focus on training to increase employee satisfaction

Employee development has always been a valuable part of a healthy, growing workplace. And it can be the key to thriving in the post-pandemic world of business.

The Great Resignation is not something temporary or short-term. Your upskilling/reskilling strategy should be continuous, too. Make sure it’s a regular part of your employees’ work life. And be ready to adjust as the labor market changes. Relevant learning and development opportunities will make your company an attractive work option for current employees and job seekers alike.

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Christina Pavlou - Former Content Marketing Manager

Christina, ex-Content Marketing Manager at Epignosis, focuses on L&D, diversity, and enhancing workplace well-being. Learn how to improve your work environment. More by Christina!

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