Companies work hard to build and retain an effective workforce. What makes the human component so valuable on the job? It’s certainly many things, but from a productivity and value standpoint, it’s the skill sets that every worker brings to the table. Whether you’re in product development, IT, marketing, sales or any level of management, the skills you bring, the skills you sharpen and the skills you learn dictate not only your own success but your company’s success.
What’s more, a company is comprised of a vast number of these skill-driven individuals all working together toward a common goal. Think of employee interactions as a corporate “supply chain,” moving the raw materials of imagination and information through the company and delivering them to customers as products or services. The better the skill sets of the individuals involved, the smoother the supply chain functions and the more efficient workflow and operations can be.
According to a recent study, 68 percent of workers say training and development are the most important workplace policy. However, when companies see upskilling in the context of improving the corporate supply chain and not merely as an on-the-job perk, it becomes clear that training is a crucial element to a company’s success. If you’re looking to drive better value for your company or to demonstrate the ROI of your learning and development program, consider these key benefits of upskilling:
1. Training Makes Each Department Stronger On its Own
Employees that pursue skills training and certification bring new expertise to departments that are under increasing pressure to perform and provide results. Whether it’s the IT department (with certifications like TOGAF 9, ITIL and CEH), project management (CAP2, PRINCE2 and PMP), marketing (digital marketing, SEO and content marketing), product development (Agile Scrum and JIRA), Big Data (Hadoop and Spark) or sales (Salesforce.com), individual experts that earn certifications in these fields and greater overall value to their team—and the company.
Workers are more inclined to be proactive when addressing challenges, such as a certified ethical hacker staying one step ahead of cyber criminals. Plus, seeing fellow employees improving their skills drives others to pursue it as well. This creates a sense of teamwork and fosters an environment of continuous learning.
2. Cross-training Improves Workflow and Efficiency
When one individual in the cross-company supply chain understands what other departments are doing, they add incremental value to workflow at every stage in a process. Here are a few examples:
- Marketing managers can learn fundamental product development skills to better understand what goes into products so they can create more educated and compelling messaging, content, and campaigns.
- Engineers who learn digital marketing techniques or content development skills are more prepared to understand customer needs and benefits, positioning them to build more market-ready products.
- Operations, facilities or finance professionals who learn project management skills become more goal-oriented and learn proven ways to streamline processes for better business results.
3. Skills Training Motivates Individuals
Employees that are more engaged with their jobs are happier and more apt to stay with their current company. Many of today’s companies are facing an employee engagement crisis. One Gallup study shows that only 32 percent of U.S. employees feel engaged in their jobs. Meanwhile, nearly four out of five (78 percent) of business leaders rank employee retention as important or urgent for their organization.
Learning and development are one-way companies can simultaneously solve the skills gap and the employee engagement gap. Improving employees’ core competencies make them more qualified for their assigned job. It also opens new opportunities in more visible or lucrative positions and enhances a worker’s feeling of well being and opportunities for advancement. This builds loyalty, improving retention. Training also benefits soft skills such as leadership, communication, writing, and negotiation. Many of these skills are a key part of training courses like project management and give employees competencies that go beyond their current role.
4. March Toward a Common Goal
When everyone in your organization understands—technically—what others in the corporate supply chain are doing, the benefits go even further than creating better workflow and business process optimization. Companies that train and cross-train build a strong inter-departmental fabric throughout the organization. Ideas are shared across teams. Individuals are empowered to offer suggestions and improve the way work is done. It creates better communication and collaboration where they might not have existed before. It also helps motivate everyone to achieve departmental goals or corporate missions.
The Business End of The Chain
Companies often think of themselves as a cohesive entity that brings many individual pieces together for a common purpose. By up-skilling your workforce, you can create value in the corporate supply chain, improve collaboration and workflow across departments, motivate your people, improve employee retention, and create a more engaging work environment. Continuous learning and skills certification training can go a long way to enhancing the both the value of your employees and the value of your organization.