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Upskilling to engage your people: attracting and retaining talent during the great resignation
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Upskilling to engage your people: attracting and retaining talent during the great resignation

In a tight labor market, businesses are competing for top talent, even as employees leave in droves. A record 4.4 million Americans resigned in September 2021 — the highest on record for nearly 20 years — ushering in what some call the Great Resignation. That same month, 65% of U.S. workers said they were looking for a new job.

Business leaders have to respond to mitigate the negative impacts of this disruptive churn, with 36% of CFOs saying they're very concerned about turnover remaining high indefinitely and weighing on revenue growth. The answers to this challenge should be informed by the root causes of employee dissatisfaction as well as retention drivers.

The pandemic shifted many people's priorities–– and workers took stock of their careers. They're looking for more flexibility and alignment with their values as well as opportunities for growth and advancement. And they're willing to make less to feel more fulfilled in their careers. More than a third of job-seekers said they'd even be willing to sacrifice salary in exchange for skill-building opportunities.

Upskilling — a catalyst for digital transformation

Digital skills development is now table stakes — in a few short years, almost a third of all jobs globally will be transformed by technology. Nearly half of respondents to a recent National Association for Business Economics (NABE) survey reported a shortage of skilled workers in the third quarter. Digital skills will continue to be in high demand. The good news is that 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain.

Upskilling programs should encourage the critical thinking and digital acumen needed for future success. And they should provide opportunities for scenario-based applied learning that demonstrates competency and translates to immediate business impact. Upskilling should focus on job- and function-specific skills so organizations can be less reliant on institutional knowledge.

If you persevere and implement the right kinds of programs, the payoffs can be huge: 93% of CEOs who introduce upskilling programs have seen increased productivity, an improvement in talent acquisition and retention and a more resilient workforce.

Upskilling as part of talent strategy

Upskilling helps maintain competitive advantage over other employers, but it can also drive talent acquisition and retention. Effective learning programs let people know you're investing in them and value their career journey, no matter where it may lead. For the post-pandemic workforce, upskilling is the new 401(k), and it's a perk and talent strategy lever that can boost engagement and foster loyalty.

This no-strings-attached approach can also serve the greater good. Easy access to upskilling can help address inclusion challenges, further improving a company's stickiness. When a work environment provides a safe space where employees feel valued and empathetic leaders can offer equal upskilling opportunities and resources for everyone, people not only feel safe to be themselves, but are empowered to invest in themselves too. Get this combination right and people are more likely to hang around.

Access to learning will be key. Through microlearning and credentialing experiences that are available to all staff, employers can level the playing field.

Upskilling for shared prosperity

Employee longevity is a benefit to the employer, but even if they leave to take their skills somewhere else, your organization's reputation can still shine. An employee who had a good learning experience is more likely to speak positively about your company. As a result, their network may see your brand as a top employer, one that contributes to an employee's ability to have more control over their career trajectory.

Investing in future-forward skills not only helps boost talent acquisition and recruiting efforts, it contributes to greater social stability as well. When implemented successfully, upskilling initiatives have the potential to help create 5.3 million net new jobs globally by 2030.

Upskilling with ProEdge

To get higher impact — and ROI — on your upskilling investment, you need a program that meets your people at the intersection of skill level and function with engaging, hands-on experiences. Today's upskilling should include training on technologies like automation that can power innovation and drive efficiency across the enterprise.

Traditional learning management systems aren't enough.

ProEdge is PwC's upskilling and citizen-led innovation platform that identifies skills your organization needs for future success and creates personalized learning pathways. In addition to industry-leading, curated content and opportunities to earn credentials, your people get access to a digital marketplace where they can contribute ideas for digital solutions as well as solutions they build themselves — once they know how.

This kind of applied learning accelerates adoption. With the prevalence of low-code and no-code digital tools like bots, data visualizations and data wrangling, workers can use hands-on learning to quickly leverage digital tools. This makes them more productive, boosts efficiency and helps the business overall. In the long run, upskilling where possible can reduce an organization's dependence on institutional knowledge, and this has never been more critical than during the Great Resignation.

ProEdge delivers function-specific, experiential learning to advance careers and align individual goals with business objectives. Let us help your workforce build a culture of innovation.