The history of technology in the “workplace” is certainly long and varied. While we have always been dependent on certain types of technologies, it is undeniable that in recent years the velocity in which technology has been advancing and transforming our society and the work we do has only quickened. Today, human resource departments in every industry need to take seriously the importance of reskilling their workforce in order to stay competitive at the forefront of the advantages that come with the digitalization of the workplace.

In that spirit, we offer a complete rundown on how your business can use technology and cutting edge instruments to reskill your workforce.

Why should you Reskill your Workforce?

A recent study titled “Employee Retention for Economic Stabilization,” found that the expansion of training programs was one of the fundamental aspects that reduced employee turnover. On a national level, employee turnover collectively costs businesses around $15,000 per worker. As any HR department will know, the costs of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training new employees is costly and also decreases overall productivity levels within a given department. In a strong economy, however, workers will be enticed to search for other employment opportunities, with around   70 percent of employees admitting that they are currently searching for jobs despite being presently employed. Salary considerations are certainly important, though 20 percent of employees  in a recent survey admitted that a lack of training programs that “fit them to their job” is one of the reasons why they quit.

At the same time, dedicated training programs offer the added benefit of allowing businesses to keep their employees skilled in the cutting edge technological developments that can give you an advantage on the competition. Currently, 44 percent of all workplaces have some form of digital workplace programs in place, and that number will only continue to grow across industries as companies discover the benefits that digitalization offers. In fact, one recent poll found that 87 percent of CIOs believe digitally empowering employees can drive at least 5 percent additional revenue growth over a three year period.

Offering training programs for your employees, then, allows companies to effectively “kill two birds with one stone.” On the one hand, a better-trained workforce in digital technologies will allow your company to stay at the forefront of the changing economy. At the same time, there is essentially a “double” return on investment (ROI) in those programs as productivity levels should increase while lowering the costs associated with high employee turnover.

Strategies for Using Technology for Reskilling the Workforce

According to one analysis, only 3 out of every 10 employees in the United States believe that they have the necessary materials and equipment to do their work right. At the same time approximately 80 percent of all jobs will require some sort of digital competencies within the next year. While Gen Z workers might have grown up as “digital natives”, a large part of the workforce, and especially older generations, will need to be trained in a variety of digital competencies. Using technology to deliver these tech-oriented learning and development (L&D) programs is a great strategy to compel workers to “use the tool to learn the skill.”

Different technologies can and should be used by HR departments to deliver learning content that is prioritized by companies. Below, we offer four possible strategies for how technology can be used to further digital reskilling of the workforce.

  1. Gamification: Most of us probably remember a middle school or high school typing class wherein we spent long hours in front of a computer (or typewriter) attempting to learn how to use our ten fingers to increase our “word-per-minute” rate. Older generations probably had to learn through listening to the monotonous repetitive instructions of an instructor. Younger generations, on the contrary, most likely enjoyed typing games wherein improved word per minute rates led you towards new levels through video game-like entertainment. Gamification of training programs allows for deeper learner engagement. When trying to teach older employees new software programs that will facilitate their job tasks while boosting productivity levels, games that offer digital badges or virtual rewards can make the learning process easier while also acknowledging employee effort and allowing for monitoring of progress.
  2. Artificial Intelligence as an Ally and not a Threat: Research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that 75 million jobs are expected to be displaced by artificial intelligence (AI) by the year 2022. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that many workers, and especially those from older generations, see AI as a threat to their job security. Digital training programs, however, can be used to help workers from all generations discover that many types of artificial intelligence are not a threat to jobs, but rather an opportunity to reduce menial and repetitive job tasks in order to free up employee efforts for other, more important job tasks. Strategies that help employees understand, appreciate, and utilize AI technologies will also give them a more advanced skillset that will increase their competency in the global workplace.
  3. Integrated Digitalization Strategy: HR departments should make it a priority to not separate their digital employee training programs from other elements of an overall digitalization process. For example, employees might show more interest and enthusiasm for a reskilling program if they also discover that these technologies will allow them request vacation time digitally, remotely manage their attendance, or boost their productivity efficiency through “e-collaborating” with other employees on their team. Also, an integrated and holistic digitalization strategy can help individual workers understand their reskilling efforts as an opportunity for professional development and advancing their careers.
  4. Online Courses: Lastly, online courses are another great approach to reskilling your workforce. There are dozens of websites that specialize in facilitating online training. In fact, one recent poll found that 33 percent of American college students took an online course within the past year. Online courses allow employees to study at their own pace and can be personalized to help you train your workforce for specific results. Employee participation in online courses can also help the workforce better identify with specific company goals and targets.

Training employees is one of the most important work tasks of an HR department. Not only can you boost productivity and employee satisfaction, but you will also be setting up your company for long-term success. The ideas presented above for using technological instruments for a more efficient reskilling of the workforce can help you position your company to hire and retain a competent and proficient workforce.