Organisations across the globe are facing the challenge of skilled labour shortages. Hiring new employees can be a significant financial and administrative investment that takes time, so prioritising the retention of existing staff has become a high priority. Reducing staff turnover not only saves money but also helps foster a positive company culture and develops future-focused thinking.
However, according to PwC’s 2022 Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey, four in ten employees in Asia Pacific are not satisfied with their job and one in five intend to switch to a new employer in the next 12 months.
Less than half of APAC companies are investing in upskilling workers
A key area of effective employee retention centres around upskilling (developing existing skills to optimise performance) and re-skilling (teaching new skills for a different role). By focusing on both sides of the skills coin businesses can foster new capabilities, stay competitive, show commitment to its people and ensure employees are ready for the demands of the future.
While the benefits are undeniable, less than half (45%) of APAC companies are upskilling workers, and 42% are worried their employer will not teach them the technology skills they need. These findings suggest a significant disparity between what employees want, and what they are getting.
The challenges of virtual training
Only 10% of APAC employees expect to be back in the office full-time in the next 12 months while 90% plan to work remotely or in a hybrid capacity. This shift towards non location-specific or remote work arrangements means companies need to create training programs that can work well anywhere. A big challenge for employers is the ability to coordinate and balance virtual and in-person training, ensuring both types of training are invested in appropriately and deliver the same quality outcomes. Companies need to be careful not to overlook those who work fully remotely.
While there are some training activities, such as behaviour-based learning, interpersonal skills, or real-time feedback, that need to be conducted in person, there are many activities that can be replicated virtually. Often these are more tactical in nature or require employees to improve their technical skills.
For companies offering virtual training options, there are a few things to consider:
- Provide content in modules or easy to handle chunks - research suggests that Gen Z and millennial employees prefer to receive information in short, sharp sound bites which helps to capture and retain their attention
- Offer self-paced training with the option to go through the materials in their own time
- Develop training that is relevant and timely to your employees; i.e. it applies to them and they can use it right now
Making in-person and group training meaningful
In-person time has become increasingly valuable due to the pandemic, especially with employees located across various locations.
Organisations need to think about purpose. Why are you getting employees together? What do you intend to achieve? It’s important to be intentional and mindful, making those in-person opportunities more about the people's needs than the business.
At Cyara, we found we were able to manage the business quite well virtually during the pandemic. As a result, we now conduct nearly all business meetings - that used to be in-person or required travel - virtually and have shifted in-person meetings to focus on strategic planning and/or team-building. A number of our in-person sessions are done in the form of “regional” gatherings where we bring employees together a few times a year for team building, training and other team-based development activities.
Be disciplined about which development activities are in-person and which can be done remotely.
Leverage remote programs as much as possible and be willing to invest in the things you can't effectively replicate virtually.
Future-proofing an entire workforce
Many successful organisations plan ahead and develop long-term training strategies for their employees. However, future-proofing a workforce is a two-pronged approach.
Firstly, providing ongoing, broad-based skills and training to every employee in the organisation is essential. This is important to help foster basic business acumen and managerial skills across the workforce. It’s essential to equip employees with what they need to do their jobs, as well as assisting them to lead and manage staff and projects effectively.
Secondly, identify individuals you believe are capable of taking on more responsibility and filling critical positions within the company. Create targeted development plans for them and provide different opportunities to accelerate their readiness to take on bigger roles. Always make sure to get the employee’s buy-in on this and work closely with them.
Defining the success profiles of a business’ most critical roles and developing existing individual(s) within the context of those profiles should be part of every organisation’s succession plan, which is imperative to the longevity of business.
Upskilling and reskilling is a win:win for both employers and employees - when it’s done right.
It holds the potential to uncover and unlock talent that already exists within a business and provides employees with renewed passion and a career ladder to climb. And, with the cost of hiring a new employee now topping AU $23,000 according to the Australian Human Resources Institute, working hard to retain your top talent has become a very smart investment.