Upskilling and reskilling have been hot topics in HR and recruiting recently. There is a common conception that rapid technological transformation will soon force organizations across every industry to focus on retraining employees to develop high-tech and scientific skills to stay afloat.
In my opinion, however, that’s not necessarily the case. It really depends on the specific company and its specific needs. Sure, firms in fields that are already tech-heavy (like engineering) and in professional services fields (like accounting) have a mandate to keep up with the latest technology in order to remain competitive. But if you work in retail, restaurants, or other customer-service-oriented fields, new technology may not necessitate a full-scale reskilling.
But I don’t mean to suggest upskilling and reskilling aren’t important — just that it’s not always about keeping up with technology. When organizations put training programs in place, they need to be tailored to the company’s specific needs at that specific time, not based simply on general trends in the workforce.
A Better Approach to Training
Upskilling and reskilling are tricky, but they ultimately come down to this: For training to be meaningful, it needs to focus on what a particular company in a particular industry needs now.
Filling skills gaps is a critical priority for any HR and recruiting leader, but the tactics we’ve used so far — namely, relying on sourcing new talent — have been insufficient.
It is much easier — and less time-intensive — to train an existing employee instead of hiring a new one. It can take anywhere from 1-2 years for a new employee to reach full productivity because, in addition to learning new skills, they’re also learning the processes and procedures of a new workplace. Existing employees, on the other hand, already understand the company. All they need to learn are the skills.
How We Cross-Train Everyone
Currently, I help recruit and handle HR for a major accounting firm. At our firm, we believe in teaching all employees how to do all jobs — not just because it helps us promote continuous training and development among employees, but also because it has immediate practical benefits. In case anyone is out for any reason, someone on staff can ensure their crucial job duties are still carried out.
Cross-training also helps us easily ramp up productivity when we need to. For example, all our bookkeepers are cross-trained on relevant systems and procedures to assist the staff accountants during the busy tax season.
We have a training coordinator who looks over all our current systems and determines which employees will most benefit from being cross-trained on certain systems. There are a lot of systems to juggle — Accounting CS, CCH Software Delivery Manager, Checkpoint, Creative Solutions for Accounting, CS Quickbooks, and UltraTax, to name a few — so it’s really useful to have someone who’s job is to stay on top of training for all of them.
Of course, your organization may be set up a little differently. You may not have a dedicated training coordinator, and even if you do, they may benefit from learning some best practices. Here are some things I’ve learned from how our firm handles training: Read more here…