Investing in Talent: The Key Role of Upskilling in Employee Retention

The importance of focusing on employee growth

For companies looking to expand, skilled employees is a critical part of the process. Upskilling is the practice of providing training to current employees to teach them new skills, which enables them to better weather industry changes and improvements. In addition to retention, upskilling may result in several other benefits that will encourage team members to grow professionally and rise within the ranks of the company.

In this article, we will expand on why upskilling is vital to your team and its role in employee retention.

Why is employee retention so important?

Healthy employee retention improves the reputation of the company, creates consistency within teams, betters the company culture, and is also an important cost-saving method. Some studies show that companies that reduce turnover costs and succeed in retaining high-performing employees can experience a potential fourfold increase in profits.

Employee retention strategies are efforts made by the company to prevent high employee turnover rates. Most retention strategies come in the form of benefits other than monthly salary. These can include paid time off, company retreats, bonuses, four-day work weeks, insurance, and upskilling opportunities.

Upskilling is not only for retention purposes, however. It is a benefit to your organization at any point of the employment process, including as new generations join the workplace. Ensure incoming candidates hold learning and development in high regard, because eventually, upskilling can provide a path to succession planning.

What are career & succession planning?

Learning and development are important factors in the process of succession and career planning. These efforts use training and skills development as a way to improve employees’ productivity and efficiency output.

Succession planning may occur in the event of senior-ranking individuals retiring, being promoted, or leaving the organization. With enough advance notice, the company can appoint a successor and provide adequate training before the position has been vacated.

Career planning on the other hand, is undertaken by the employee with assistance from the company. However, career planning takes a different approach as the employee may not stay with the company to grow professionally.

What is the difference between upskilling, reskilling, and transferable skills

Upskilling, reskilling, and transferable skills are all related to career development and adapting to changes in the job market, but they have distinct meanings and applications.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling involves learning new skills or enhancing existing skills within the same job or career field. The goal is to improve one’s performance and stay current with advancements in technology and industry standards.

Example: Moving from lead salesperson to sales manager by undertaking a management course.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of learning new skills that are required for a different job or career field. This often involves a significant shift in one’s career path and acquiring a different set of competencies.

Example: Undertaking a technical SEO writing course as a journalist looking to move over to a marketing agency.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills should be heavily considered when hiring someone in a career transition. Transferable skills are relevant for the same role across multiple industries. These are skills that can be improved on or developed to gain more opportunities.

Example: Roles like project managers require skills like leadership, communication, problem-solving, and adaptability. There are several affordable online programs that can facilitate your team acquiring transferable skills.

Why it is important to upskill your employees

Apart from retention, upskilling employees is vital for the growth of your company. As previously mentioned, it aids with individual growth and succession planning, but upskilling also supports:

  • Adaption: It can help your team stay up-to-date with new and improved tools and software that can make their work more efficient.
  • Resilience: It helps build stronger teams that can bounce back from hiccups.
  • Employee satisfaction: Employees feel that their growth and well-being are prioritized – which leads to higher performance and retention.
  • Improved service: When your employees are happy and working fruitfully, they will be able to provide better service to clients.
  • Budget: It costs much more to hire new staff as opposed to upskilling and reskilling workers.
  • Attract new talent: Candidates want a job that will provide fulfillment and professional growth.
  • Bridging skills gaps: Upskilling allows managers to actively note where your team is missing essential requirements to fulfill their job and respond to this issue.

Include training & education benefits

In order to implement learning and development measures as part of your offering, begin with your company’s Human Resources teams and upper management to devise adequate strategies to unroll this initiative.

Identify where teams can improve and create training modules based on what is required. It is important to take on a personalized approach and tailor the modules and training based on what is needed by staff.

You also need ample time for the learning to take place, and include it as part of your employees’ Key Performance Assessments so that more members of staff will get on board with the idea to work and learn.

7 ways to upskill staff

In addition to creating ongoing training for your staff, there are other ways to promote learning and skills development within your teams.

  1. Help your employees further their education by subsidizing their courses or providing incentives if they take on accredited one year master’s programs that are in accordance with their upskilling goals.
  2. Facilitate peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring initiatives. To do this internally, assign team members to work together and level up, or assign a team member with more experience to guide another team member to take on similar responsibilities.
  3. Provide access to career workshops and conferences for your team members to attend and gain more experience.
  4. Give your team access to learning portals that have personalized courses required for them to complete.
  5. Job rotation/enlargement/enrichment is a great way to introduce new skills to your staff.
  6. Outsource specialists and host an in-house workshop for your team.
  7. Provide digital upskilling courses for members of staff who are not fully acquainted with updated technology. For example, if sales teams have the latest software, they will be able to improve their lead prospecting and generation capabilities.


In conclusion, upskilling is beneficial for your organization on several fronts, especially regarding retention. Investing in upskilling is not just a strategy for individual employee development but a comprehensive approach to organizational growth, competitiveness, and sustainability.


Steven Briggs is a content editor for the business and entrepreneur sector, and is an avid writer of business and personal finance topics.