Organisational Strategies for Promoting Upskilling in a Time-Strapped Work Environment

In the long run, the gains from upskilling are lasting, while neglecting it can have lasting negative consequences says Jacob Jesuron, Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources, Access Healthcare


Organizations can quickly become obsolete if they ignore the market, lack leadership for change, or can’t keep up with industry evolution. Many successful companies have failed due to complacency or misunderstanding market conditions. To stay relevant, businesses should update their strategies, improve equipment, modernize processes, and use better materials.

One vital aspect is upskilling the workforce, but many companies struggle to allocate resources to these initiatives. They need to give more time and money, and they may not appreciate employees who proactively seek training, sometimes penalizing them for missing work targets during training.

Flexible learning paths for diverse units

Effective upskilling strategies must consider the diversity of job roles within an organization and the varying skills each position requires. Focusing solely on core operational functions while neglecting supporting roles is a mistake. This can create imbalances and breed resentment within the workforce. To be truly effective, provide a range of opportunities, content, and timing options for upskilling to cater to the diverse needs of employees.

Time and resource allocation

To ensure that employees prioritize upskilling, two crucial elements should be clear: when and why. Depending on the organization’s size, there are several ways to facilitate this:

  1. Timing Flexibility: Companies can allocate dedicated time for upskilling sessions or offer on-demand options to accommodate individual or group schedules.
  2. Integration into Work Processes: When feasible, integrate learning methodologies into daily work processes. This could include on-screen tips for process enhancement or live coaching support, which can significantly improve productivity and quality.
  3. Supervisor Support: Supervisors can play a pivotal role by mandating and encouraging team members to engage in and complete training programs proactively.
  4. Budget Allocation: Allocate sufficient budgets for partnerships, external training programs, and reimbursement for relevant training initiatives, even if initiated at a personal level.

By addressing these elements, organizations can create a conducive environment for upskilling, making it more accessible and understandable for employees.

Data and support structures for focused development

In today’s world, virtually every company generates substantial data during its operations. Neglecting to analyze this data for insights and improvement opportunities is a significant oversight. Companies committed to effectively utilizing this data and tailoring upskilling programs to align with their operations can positively influence their employees’ motivation to learn.

To further promote learning, consider establishing peer learning groups or mentorship programs. Experienced team members can dedicate their time to training and developing those eager to learn. These initiatives create a supportive learning environment within the organization and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Transparent reward systems for achievement

Supervisory mandates can indeed encourage employees to participate in training and upskilling programs. However, sustaining motivation hinges on tangible results. Employees want to see if improved skills translate into enhanced productivity and better work quality. Equally important is whether their efforts are recognized and rewarded by the organization.

At Access Healthcare, we’ve implemented a transparent digital rewards platform. This platform seamlessly integrates with our workflow management system, collecting data and measuring success through straightforward, visible metrics. This data-driven approach forms the basis for excellence awards, spot rewards, and career progression decisions. We create a fair and motivating environment that encourages ongoing learning and skill development by making rewards and recognition objective and transparent.

Gamification: An incentive for “finding” time

Often, when employees claim a “lack of time” as a barrier to upskilling, it may be a misdiagnosis or a symptom of a more significant issue: a lack of prioritization for upskilling within the organization. To address this, incorporating gamification elements into upskilling programs can instil a sense of competitiveness among employees, mainly when rewards are transparent and attainable.

Elements such as leaderboards, badges, shareable proof of milestones, and the prestige associated with achievements can be powerful motivators. Consider the success of publicly available language learning apps, which have harnessed gamification to attract millions of users who compete against each other.

In a workplace setting, proximity to “competitors” and the availability of rewards tied to compensation and career progression can further amplify the motivation to engage in upskilling activities. By making upskilling engaging and competitive, organizations can overcome the perceived time constraints and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Feedback loops for updated curricula

Developing an upskilling plan is an ongoing effort. It’s crucial to keep content and goals relevant as markets, people, and expectations change over time. Executive commitment is essential, but real progress is driven by proactive management. They identify execution gaps and turn insights into achievable actions for upskilling.

Use empirical evidence like performance data, team productivity, and service quality trends to ensure effectiveness. At Access Healthcare, we regularly assess individual team members, analyze results, and provide coaching and training recommendations. We identify trends and implement long-term training strategies for larger groups when needed. Objectivity in measuring performance and technology is essential for success.

Remember, feedback isn’t complete without considering team members’ perspectives and the measurable improvements they demonstrate. It’s vital for holistic development.

Finally, it’s a question of priority

Just like F1 drivers may be tempted to skip pitstops to save time, some companies might avoid upskilling their employees. But experienced drivers know that pitstops, with quick and efficient adjustments, are crucial for their racecar's wellbeing. Similarly, companies should prioritize upskilling rather than avoiding it. This ensures that employees maintain optimal performance and prevent permanent damage to the organization. In the long run, the gains from upskilling are lasting, while neglecting it can have lasting negative consequences.

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Jacob Jesuron


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