What is ‘upskilling’ and why should my company do it?

"Upskilling": It's a big workplace trend in 2018 and reflects the focus on continuous learning that many companies have had in the last several years. 

Upskilling is when organizations invest in training programs that help employees develop new abilities and minimize troublesome skills gaps. 

Here are three reasons why your company should practice upskilling:

1. Minimize recruitment costs 

Training a new employee is costly; a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that the average cost-per-hire is $4,129. It's often far less expensive to train existing employees in certain skills rather than hire new workers who already possess these abilities. In addition, training current employees eliminates the time it takes to onboard people at your company. 

2. Maintain market competitiveness 

Upskilling helps a company agilely respond to changes in its market. According to research by the Brookings Institute, digitization has caused many companies in industries previously somewhat removed from technology to require their employees to develop digital skills. Tech adoption is on the rise, with a significant increase in digital upskilling in mid- and lower-skill job roles. Whether in technology or another area, training employees in new skills is an effective way for companies to pivot their offerings and remain competitive. 

3. Improve employee engagement 

Many employees, especially younger workers, want their companies to provide training opportunities. Gallup research found that 87 percent of millennials believe that professional development is important in a job. In addition, the National Skills Coalition "Foundational Skills in the Service Sector" report found that workers who are interested in minimizing their skills gaps often face barriers to doing so, with the most popular being "too busy at work" and "education or training was too expensive." Employers that step in and provide these programs are not only improving their bottom line but also showing that they're listening to their employees' desire for development opportunities, which can increase engagement. 

Using webinars to enhance upskilling 

You know the reasons for upskilling – now it's time to implement a program at your organization. Webinars are a highly effective platform for corporate upskilling initiatives because they reach many employees at once, even those located across offices or who are remote. They can be conducted live, giving employees the opportunity to ask questions, and then archived in a company's learning and development library. An engaging and interactive format make webinars perfect for creating upskilling programs that employees look forward to. 

3 ways companies can support employee health and wellness

A healthy workplace is a happy one, and in 2018, employers will be taking a closer look at how they can support their employees' well-being in the office. 

Doing this isn't about offering a gym membership discount and calling it a day, however. It's about creating personalized employee wellness programs and perks that help workers live their best lives and show that their employers do care about their health. A 2016 survey by Global Wellness Institute/Everyday Health found that when employees see their companies as "caring about their health/wellness," they have better health, higher job engagement and lower stress levels. 

Here are three ways companies can support their employees' health and wellness:

1. Listen to what the people want 

An an employer, you can make assumptions, but to implement effectively wellness programs that your employees value, take a pulse of what people want. Polls, surveys and group meetings can give employees a chance to tell you what kind of wellness perks they desire 

2. Bring in the experts 

Research by HealthFitness found that nearly 75 percent of participants in wellness programs say a personal touch is important in their health programs. They want guidance from diet, fitness and wellness experts, as well as one-on-one training and education time with these experts. 

In a corporate setting, this desire means that it's worth the investment to collaborate with nutritionists, fitness experts and other authorities to help you develop your employee wellness programs. Provide discounts or free passes for sessions with personal trainers or for meetings to develop a diet plan with a nutritionist. 

3. Make healthy living a shared endeavor 

Strengthen your company culture so that it reflects the business's commitment to helping employees lead healthy lives. One way you can do this is by making wellness a shared experience. Keep the kitchen stocked with healthy snacks, and offer team fitness classes, either on site or at a gym close by. You can also hold company wellness retreats or "healthy living days" that feature seminars on diet, fitness and mental health topics from industry experts. If you have remote employees or operate multiple offices in different locations, use video conferencing software to connect everyone and live stream the event. 

As an employer, you have a responsibility to create a safe work environment that supports employees' health and wellness. With the tips above, you can show your employees you care in the ways that matter most to them. 

Why UX matters when it comes to workplace technology

From project management tools to productivity apps, you'll find a ton of workplace technologies on the market. These digital platforms are applauded for their potential ability to improve employee efficiency, innovation and collaboration, but there's a critical ingredient they need to serve this purpose: a good user experience.

User experience is defined as the experience a person has using a technology platform. It includes factors like how the users feel navigating the program and if it's easy to understand. UX can be influenced by everything from the way a web page is laid out to the font that is used. If you doubt the impact small design details can have on UX, just consider the statistic that using a specific shade of blue over others generated an extra $80 million in revenue for Bing, according to CNET. 

Here's why UX matters when it comes to workplace technology:

Frustration will get you nowhere 

When introducing a new workplace technology at your company, the No. 1 thing you want is employee buy-in. Otherwise, you've got a wasted investment in the books. Platforms and programs that are clunky, confusing and nowhere near intuitive will only frustrate employees and cause them to resist using the system as much as possible. 

Wasted time equals hits to your bottom line 

Besides the money wasted on a workplace technology with bad UX, your company will also see hits to its bottom line in terms of lost productivity. The employees who do use the platform will likely take more time to complete their tasks than they did without it, thanks to the program's complicated structure. And those who resist using the program will slow down workflows. That collaboration software you purchased to improve productivity will only worsen it. 

You have a tech-savvy audience 

Maybe at the dawn of the computer era you could get away with clunky software programs. But not today – tech-savvy employees of all ages have no tolerance for poorly design systems, as TechBeacon contributor and MoveoApps co-founder Hiral Atha noted. Workplace apps need to be just as intuitive and well-designed as the consumer apps employees use in their personal lives. 

When it comes to workplace technologies, choose programs with a great UX. ReadyTalk's unified communication platform was built with the end user in mind, enabling seamless switching between devices to improve collaboration and productivity at your business.