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Employee Retention and the Importance of Upskilling Your Team

4 minute read

By Nick Gold, MD, Speakers Corner

Employee retention and recruitment have become significant challenges in recent months. Hiring freezes, furlough schemes and the working from home movement have led to disparity in training and development opportunities across businesses.

This has created a widening skills gap — and it means 9 in 10 businesses are struggling to recruit and retain skilled staff.

Upskilling staff can ensure your business has the skills it needs to thrive. But training is about more than just creating a skilled workforce. It’s about helping people achieve their ambitions both in and out of the office, making them feel valued, supported, and motivated at work.



There’s no such thing as a one-job career these days. People have side hustles, hobbies, and ambitions outside their day job. But they still want to feel valued at work.

As a business, you may not be able to deliver on your staff’s overarching ambition. But you can help them develop the skills they need to thrive both personally and professionally, which will in turn help your business. That’s where personalised upskilling comes in.

Everyone has different drivers and motivations. Businesses must cater to the needs of individuals when it comes to learning and development. With greater access to knowledge than ever before, we must support our employees in individual and unique ways to help them reach their goals.



Experiential learning is a great way to personalise training for individuals. Unlike formalised training plans, which are structured around specific skills needed for a specific role, experiential learning offers takeaways on several levels.

As well as gaining work-related knowledge and skills, experiential learning sparks curiosity, promotes self-motivation, and inspires a can-do attitude. It equips attendees with the tools to deal with unique challenges they face at work, rather than prescribing one-size-fits-all solutions.

Training never stops; it’s a continuous process that provides answers while provoking further questions. That comes only through experiences that don’t revolve around a set methodology or training plan, which is where inspirational speakers come in.



Almost all truly inspiring people have one thing in common: an unrivalled willingness to learn. These speakers learn as much from the audience as the audience does from them, creating a level of participation and interaction many class teachers dream of.

Inspirational speakers deliver learning experiences in a totally unique way. The joy of listening to inspiring people is that they excite and intrigue audiences, which makes them more receptive to ideas and stories, and more willing to learn.

Those who can empower, inspire, and provoke emotion will embed lessons quickly and emphatically in attendees. It’s faster (and undoubtedly more interesting) than learning from a textbook.

An outside perspective can also enhance internal training sessions. These are less formal than external training, where the onus is on attendees to prove their worth to the company. There’s an implicit trust that everyone is growing together. And with an outside voice to inspire and intrigue, you can promote faster learning and greater trust in your staff.



Personalising learning doesn’t mean giving every member of staff the exact experiences they want. But there are benefits to accommodating training requests that might be out of the employee’s normal scope of work; it helps them grow as a person and shows them you care about their ambitions.

Fostering a culture of belonging, inclusivity, and achievement breeds staff loyalty and boosts employee retention. Offering experiences that aren’t directly related to your business helps you build a give and take culture, which benefits both your business and your staff.



The barriers to hierarchy in business are breaking down. People now have to earn the trust of their staff; it’s not automatically given because you have a certain title or position. Line managers — even those who have excellent leadership skills and strong working relationships — aren’t always best placed to mentor their direct reports.

A good mentor has no allegiance to a specific growth path for their mentee. Instead, they see a person’s potential as a whole — not just in relation to their job — and provide a platform to learn from. And best of all, mentoring others can help the mentor grow, too.

Often, mentoring is seen as senior staff members passing their experience down to more junior employees. But developing a reverse mentoring relationship means both mentor and mentee learn from each other. Creating a safe space with someone you trust, where there’s no ulterior motive in terms of employer requirements, allows both sides to develop as people and professionals.

And as a business, you’ll still benefit — your staff will feel happier, better supported, and increasingly loyal.



Thanks to the pandemic, the Great Resignation, and rapid business rebound, there’s been a lot of workforce upheaval in recent years. This has exacerbated problems with retention and recruitment — but for businesses, it’s essential to have the right people in your team before you start training them.

Both employers and employees should view the working relationship as a partnership. Building up trust through the approaches above can help you create a productive team that’s invested in your business, so you can reap the rewards to your business.

Upskilling your staff makes them feel valued. As a result, they’ll feel loyal and included, motivating them to contribute more to your business. Not only does this help with staff retention, it builds up your reputation as an excellent employer for future recruitment — and means you’ll have a talent pool full of motivated, skilled, happy staff.

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