Employee Development

The role of mentorship in reskilling your workforce

The process of reskills can be full of opportunity but also with anxiety. Mentors are critical during these times.

Muinat Zubair

Published on 

March 14, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

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Presently, there’s unprecedented difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. “The Great Resignation,” or call it “The Great Reshuffle,” has heavily disrupted companies globally.

According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, throughout 2021, well over 47 million Americans left their jobs. This trend persisted for some time, with April 2022 being the eleventh month in a row in which over 4 million employees in the United State quit their job

Even though these numbers are higher than average, employee recruitment and retention has always been an expensive endeavour for organizations. 

Consider a study by SHRM that estimates that it would cost a company six months or over of employee salary to choose and onboard a successor for employees that quit. 

What’s the antidote to sky-high turnover? McKinsey data suggests that companies that successfully launched reskilling programs before the pandemic were better equipped to manage disruptions

What can we make of this? The lesson is that employees leave companies when they don’t invest in learning and development, according to the Work Institute

The Great Resignation was driven by a yearning to work in an organization that offers meaningful reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

In this article, we will discuss how mentorship can be an effective tool for reskilling, but first, let's unpack what reskilling is with some practical examples. 

What is reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of employees learning new skills that will enable them to progress to a new role within their present organization. 

Reskilling is a strategic move to train current employees instead of letting them go and hiring new ones with entirely different skill sets. It is a way of moving an employee into a role they are better suited for.  

You might have an account manager with excellent communication skills who is open to switching to the sales department. You might discover that with some sales training, he becomes very good at closing sales. Through reskilling, he found a role better suited to him at the company. A win for both the employee and the company.

Another example is training in-store associates at a fashion brand for an online customer service position that requires live chat consultation skills. Instead of laying off these employees as a fashion line closes its stores in favor of e-commerce channels, theY focus on reskilling them. In this way, they retain the tacit knowledge of these employees, thus lowering their upfront recruiting and training costs. 

How many organizations are investing in reskilling their workforce? According to Udemy’s 2020 workplace learning trends report, 58% of L&D leaders reskilled up to 20% of their workforce. There’s room for improvement.

eBook How To Fast-Track Employee Learning With Colleague Connections  

Why is reskilling important now?

For workers, to adapt to rapidly changing work environments, they need reskilling programs to master a skill that didn’t exist at the start of their careers. 

The more complex the job, the harder it will be to replace workers. That is why upgrading the skills of your existing workers is effective. By reskilling existing talent, you’re sending a message that you prioritize skills training. You’re also more likely to attract the talent you need.

According to the Future of Jobs Report 2020, by 2025, humans and machines will spend equal time doing current tasks. Also, the OECD estimates that technology will completely alter about 1.1 billion jobs in the coming decade. The World Economic Forum predicts a general net positive between the growth of jobs and its decline.

Reduces training and hiring costs

Recruiting new employees and getting them up to speed is expensive. Likewise, looking for talent in specialized roles could involve even more financial commitments. 

Therefore, reskilling existing employees is your safest option to reduce costs.

Attracts and retains top talent by promoting career advancement

Talented employees are scarce. Reskilling means you won’t have to let your top employees go because of a skill they lack. It is more helpful to develop employees than let them take their talent elsewhere. 

These employees are essential to the success of any employee development programs you plan in the future. They can coach less experienced employees based on their priceless experience within the organization. 

By investing in employees, you help them achieve their individual development plans. The result is higher employee retention, more value and contributions to your organization.

Improves employee morale

Employees feel valued when they have access to opportunities that elevate their skills and position at work. Employees are more likely to stay in an organization that prioritizes skills training. 

This also gives them more job security. With new skills, employees can work in new roles if their current position in the organization becomes obsolete. This raises their self-esteem and performance at work. Higher work quality and dedicated employees result from such a work culture. 

Serves as a tool for internal mobility

Reskilling helps your organization gain a reputation for being growth-led, especially with your human capital. Through your current employees, potential employees can see that you’re invested in expanding the skills and talents of workers. 

This positive word of mouth will help you attract the right set of talent to your organization. People are more likely to stay in an organization that is interested in growing current employees in their position through internal mobility. A LinkedIn Learning report shows that workers are twice as likely to remain in the same organization if they have opportunities to advance in their roles.

5 Steps to organizing a reskilling program

It is easy to commit to reskilling staff or including it in your business objectives. However, successfully implementing reskilling can be more challenging. 

We will discuss five steps to organizing a reskilling program below.

1. Identify areas and roles that need reskilling

Start by identifying areas and people who will benefit the most from reskilling. Instead of focusing on positions facing elimination, consider roles that are evolving and growing as well.

Take the areas of growth that are most important to the organization into consideration. If you’re a product-led company, you probably need more people in product development, management and marketing. 

Keep in mind that not all the roles will transition immediately. Also, define what makes workers qualified for reskilling and grade them according to eligibility.  

2. Choose the modes of reskilling

Choosing a method for reskilling is like coming up with methods for employee training. Reskilling could be through workshops, mentoring, coaching, etc. 

Different roles and areas could have other methods for reskilling. You could ask those in areas that need reskilling for the method they’d prefer through a survey. 

3. Define the required time and resources

Include the time and resources you would need for reskilling in your planning. This information will be crucial for getting buy-in from leaders. 

Reskilling requires time and resources like any other employee development program. While you don’t need to plan each step to the minutest detail, you should be able to estimate how long reskilling will take in some roles. 

You should also have a list of the resources you need ready too. Do you need one-on-one mentors for some roles? E-learning courses or even a learning management system. Keep in mind, financial implications are also part of the resources you need to have an estimate for. 

4. Get potential candidates on board

As much as reskilling is for the betterment of employees and the organization at large, not everyone will buy into the idea. It is a sensitive topic to discuss with employees who are uncertain about the future of their current role or the possibility of losing their job. 

Be diplomatic in your approach and let the candidates know how important it is for their career and future in the organization.  

5. Gain buy-in

Having done your homework on the roles and departments that need reskilling. It is time to sell the idea to the decision-makers in the organization. 

You can draw inspiration from these 10 companies with exceptional employee development programs. Showcasing successful real-life examples of reskilling programs is a good way to show company leadership that they need a reskilling program and how it will benefit the organization immensely. 

Don’t forget to mention specific areas that need improving upon. With the backing of the company decision-makers, the last step is to launch the program and make adjustments as needed. 

How mentoring can close the skills gap

We have touched on reskilling and how important it is. You already know workers recognize the need to continue learning even on the job. 

Below, we show how mentors help their mentees reskill.

Include reskilling in onboarding programs where necessary

Onboarding sessions are meant to acquaint new hires with the workings of the company. However, new employers can come in with skill gaps that need to be filled or skills that need an upgrade. 

Connect new hires with experienced employees during the onboarding period. These employees can serve as mentors helping new hires hone their skills and reskill by recommending the right resources coupled with follow-ups.

Organize a skill-based mentoring program for seasoned and new employees

To increase the morale of both long-time and new employees, create a skill-based mentorship program. 

The knowledge, skills and experience of tenured employees make them ideal to be mentors for new workers. Help both parties connect through one-on-one mentorship sessions. Tenured employees can help new employees hone their skills, while the new employee can also benefit the old ones by sharing new ideas or developments in the field.

Create open mentorship programs to learn in-demand skills

Mentorship programs that are open to everyone mean employees can connect independently and learn the skills and insights they need to grow. Employees are often aware of their skill gaps. Even if they’re not, they can get clarity through mentorship. 

With mentoring software, you can easily create a mentorship program for employees to find and connect to mentors when needed. Employees that take advantage of this enjoy skills development and contribute meaningfully to their teams. 

Make matches according to skill needs

It is important that you match employees that need reskilling with the right mentors. Matching criteria and pairing software can help you with this. 

Make sure to keep the objectives of the organization in mind too. A great start to effective reskilling is matching mentees to mentors that have the required expertise. 

Have a structured reskilling program in place

Having a structure saves you the stress of creating a new program every time there’s a need for reskilling. If you have a mentorship program in place, you can easily pair mentees with experienced mentors that can help them with reskilling. 

You can create a mentorship program that reoccurs at particular periods using a mentorship platform. The timing and type of mentorship program depend on the frequency of demands and the skills that need updating.

Bottom line

Companies that offer reskilling opportunities will have an edge over their competition in finding and retaining talent. 

Mentorship programs rank high as one of the best ways to maximize reskilling. Leverage the existing knowledge of your tenured employees to provide the ones that need reskilling with the right resources.

At Together, we have helped organizations launch successful mentorship programs that reduce skill gaps and prepare the workforce for the future of work. If you’d like to start a new mentoring program, book a demo or try it for free anytime. Our team is always ready to help you deliver a seamless mentoring experience for your organization.

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