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Improving Employee Learning Experience

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

The values of reskilling and upskilling employees

Amazon will invest over $1.2 billion dollars in upskilling employees. Amazon employees, including frontline employees, will have access to free training programs and college tuition to help them learn new skills that will allow them to carve their career paths. Why is this brilliant? Not only will this open up many career opportunities for their employees, but Amazon is also being strategic in building their internal bench strength to fill jobs internally. At the same, investing in employee development will also improve the engagement and retention of their employees. This move takes time and requires investment and commitment from the leadership team, which is generally difficult for many small to mid-sized organizations to achieve.

According to the World Economic Forum, “half of all employees around the world need to upskill or reskill by 2025 to embrace new responsibilities driven by automation and new technologies” (McDonald, 2021). Under the current climate where talent is expensive and difficult to find, and turnover is at its peak, it might be wise for companies to reevaluate their employee engagement and retention strategy and invest in developing rather than buying talent. Sounds like a lot of work? It doesn't have to be. Fortunately for us, data can help companies quickly determine their skill gaps and make sound decisions on the best approach (develop vs. buy) to fill these gaps for current and future needs.

1. Start with identifying your high turn and difficult to fill jobs

Do you know what jobs are high turnover or difficult to fill, or both? You can quickly develop a magic quadrant that helps you prioritize these positions by looking at turnover and time to fill data by jobs to populate the quadrant. You can include future jobs here as well.

2. Determine skill requirements for the jobs

Once you have identified and prioritized the jobs to focus on, work with hiring managers to determine the technical and behavioural skills required to succeed in these jobs. Many HR departments get stuck at this step as hiring managers do not always have time to spare and work with HR to determine skill requirements. There is a solution to this. HR can do some groundwork by digging up existing job descriptions or looking at job descriptions posted on current job boards to create a baseline of the skill requirements. So instead of asking hiring managers to build it from scratch (yes, this usually makes them cringe), you are sending them a draft to review where they can eliminate and add to the skill requirements. (Look at both Technical and Behavioral)

3. Conduct skill assessment

Now that you have identified current and future jobs to assess and have the skills requirements for these high turnovers and/or difficult to fill jobs, you can now use technology to send these assessments to hiring managers, employees, and team members to complete the job skill assessments. We suggest doing a 360 review of these skills as research has proven getting feedback from more than one person will help minimize rater bias.

The 360 should include the employee self, the manager, peers, direct reports, and perhaps some internal customers as required.

The assessment should be mobile-friendly, simple, and easy to complete. See the screen capture below.

If you would like to learn more about how our 360 performance and development tool works, click here to schedule a call with us!

4. Review results

Once the job skills assessments are completed, take a look at what the data is telling you. We strongly recommend using a heatmap to visualize the data. The heatmap should tell you whether skill gaps are linked to an individual or across a group of employees. From there, you will be able to determine if it is a:

  • Performance issue since the skill gaps are linked to an individual

  • Development issue since the skill gaps are linked to a group of employees

From here, you can determine whether to develop or source (buy) talent. Some questions to consider:

  • How big are these gaps?

  • Is it a big or small group of employees who lack these skills?

  • How urgent are these skills required to meet current or future needs?

  • Do you have the budget, resources, time, and expertise to help employees develop these skills?

  • Do you have potential successors for these jobs?

  • How big is the external talent pool?

  • How much would it cost to find these skills and fill these jobs externally?

5. Keep your data current

Data-based decision-making requires employers to have access to current data. We advised that you run job skills assessments annually or every 1.5 years. This is an excellent way for employers to stay current with their skill inventory. It also helps to hire managers and HR consistently align their hiring strategy based on needs and the talent market condition.

Start with something simple to develop a baseline for your skill inventory. As your process continues to mature, you can integrate your upskilling & reskilling program into your succession planning and internal mobility programs.

How we can help

We help employers customize and automate their employee lifecycle surveys.

Respect is the basis of any relationship! Your paths might cross again in the future as a job seeker can be your future customer, supplier, vendor, brand ambassador, or employee.

Retainify is an employee engagement and development software that offers a unified solution that allows you to track employee sentiment and measure engagement in real-time. Proactively identify issues that are preventing them from being their best at work. Improve business outcomes by improving the employee experience, and enhancing company culture one feedback at a time. Turn Feedback into Action.

Questions of Feedback?

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  1. McDonald, P. (2021, June 09). As Businesses Prepare For The Future Of Work, The Need To Upskill And Reskill Workers Becomes More Essential. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from

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