For many organizations, upskilling is no longer an afterthought. Since the start of the pandemic, it’s become a very necessary part of a company’s ability to adapt. By investing in your employees’ skills and knowledge, companies can grow stronger from within and adjust to changing conditions. And if virtual employees are part of your team, upskilling opportunities should apply to them, too.
Upskilling as part of your internal training and development program offers tons of benefits to each employee and the organization at large. When employees can learn new skills, they become more engaged. Their confidence and morale improve. And when employees are given new opportunities, companies may enjoy greater retention and lower hiring costs.
Let’s look at how you can upskill your virtual employees and build a stronger workforce:
1. Let Virtual Employees Choose Their Own Path
Upskilling is a necessary part of growth and maintaining a competitive advantage. But when employees are forced to learn new skills or topics they’re simply not interested in, the entire process can feel forced and unappealing.
HR should defer to each employee when choosing how to upskill. This allows them to take ownership of their career development. They can build on not only the skills they can use now, but also the skills that will take them to the next level.
Find out their desires and goals by holding one-on-one meetings. Talk about possible career advancements within the company and the skills required to move forward. Making them part of the conversation instead of handing them development assignments will get them excited to participate while maintaining more control over their careers.
2. Offer Support with Planning and Execution
Employees often want to take the lead on learning new skills but are at a loss as to how they can do so. They aren’t sure what resources are available to them or how to go about making their upskilling “official.”
HRs can (and should) offer support with planning and executing upskilling initiatives. Help your virtual employees map out a plan and tie their learnings to specific goals or objectives. This makes it easy to track their progress along the way. Get their manager involved to agree on goals and priorities to make sure any new skills are in line with what the company needs.
3. Provide Incentives for Upskilling
Between managing daily duties, adapting to new needs that arise, and getting bogged down in new assignments or projects, upskilling can often fall to the back burner. Employees may treat it as a box to tick on a checklist rather than a value-adding activity that supports their future careers.
One way to maintain their engagement and excitement is to offer incentives to complete upskilling activities. For instance, if you have given them access to an online course, you might offer a small bonus or gift for finishing the course. The real reward is the knowledge they gain, of course, but offering a tangible reward can give them all the motivation they need to move forward.
For more insights on managing a virtual team, head back to the Virtual Coworker blog..