Why Upskilling is the Key to Employee Retention - Netchex

How can companies improve employee retention effectively and without breaking the bank? Besides pay raises, upskilling is one of the top retention strategies. First, let’s examine a few reasons why people quit. Looking at the so-called Great Resignation starting in 2021, the Pew Research Center found that a majority of workers gave one of four reasons for quitting: 

  • 63% low pay
  • 63% no opportunities for advancement
  • 57% felt disrespected at work
  • 48%  child care issues

Equal pay and industry-standard raises are important. Mental health in the workplace is more important than ever. Companies can and should do more for working parents.

READ: Recession, Retention, DEI, and More: Top HR Trends for 2023

So, what about advancement, continuing education, and skills training? Upskilling is the answer. Upskilling allows you to develop and motivate workers while empowering them to improve themselves, as well as the company.

What is upskilling? 

You likely already offer training as part of the onboarding process, but upskilling is more than that. Upskilling is additional training and development opportunities beyond what’s necessary for a worker’s current role. 

While cross-training employees in different skills gives you a more flexible workforce, self-motivated employees want a pathway to become more qualified for future openings at your company. 

READ: Benefits of Using a Learning Management System to Promote Continuous Learning

Why investing in current employees is better than outside hiring

While it is important to occasionally bring in “new talent” and “new perspectives” for upper level vacancies, don’t forget the advantages of promoting from within. 


Recruiting is expensive and time consuming (though the right HR technology can help you on both fronts there). From advertising on job boards to the hours spent vetting and interviewing candidates, recruiting is a major undertaking.

READ: Modern Recruiting: DEI, Perks, HR Technology, and Untapped Talent Pools

New hires need time to get up to speed, trained from scratch, and introduced to the way your company does business. Promoted employees need significantly less time, training, and paperwork.


Employees who work their way up through the ranks feel more invested in the continued success of your company. Just walking to their desk becomes a reminder of how far they’ve come. Employees might even be grateful to your company for the opportunity to grow professionally.


Judging by only the resumes and interviews of job applicants, it’s hard to guess who will actually mesh with coworkers and which new hires will disappear after a couple of months. Long term employees have a track record with your company, and it’s easy to identify and manage issues.


Successful workers have confidence that comes from a better understanding of your company’s process and workforce. Where a new hire’s confident personality might seem like unjustified arrogance, a promoted worker is just playing a new role in a familiar environment.


Employees who are actively moving up the ladder have built-in incentives to keep performing at a high level. Internal promotions can also motivate the rest of the workforce, proving that your company rewards hard work and persistence.

External hires can leave disappointed workers feeling frustrated and unappreciated. This could motivate them to search for jobs elsewhere in order to advance their career.

Upgrade your work culture with upskilling

Helping employees flourish is one of the top keys for improving your work culture. Discover how upskilling provides a positive pathway to employee satisfaction, growth, and retention.

Assess current training system

What are the strengths and priorities of your current training system? Do you offer refreshers and ongoing development after the initial onboarding training? Beyond productivity, do you have ways to identify skill gaps between employees?

Make learning available to everyone

Most of your employees are interested in professional growth, even if they don’t look too enthusiastic on Monday mornings. Extra training shouldn’t be a punishment or focused exclusively on underperforming workers. Make skills development and incentives available and accessible to everyone.

Prepare for different learning styles

Some adult learners need hands-on practice and the opportunity to ask questions. Not everyone will be able to learn from watching training videos at home. Your program will need to acknowledge and plan for those personal differences. Which subjects would lend themselves to in-person training? Skilled workers can develop leadership abilities by training their peers.

Invest in a Learning Management System

Training software allows you to make training, upskilling, and continued learning easy and manageable. Track and manage a wide range of training programs, tailored to the needs and interests of each worker.

Monitor progress and quiz results, even promoting friendly competition. Upload your own training documentation while taking advantage of external experts. Great training videos already exist for popular software and processes.

READ: Seven Reasons Why You Need a Learning Management System

Celebrate learning achievements

Many workers need something more to incentivize ongoing learning. Professional growth can become an expected milestone in employee reviews and annual assessments.

DISCOVER: Four Keys to Kickstarting a Performance-Based Work Culture

Even when promotions and raises aren’t feasible, you can celebrate employee learning with internal recognitions and awards. Skilled workers can earn credentials and test for certifications that will be recognized by other companies.

Put new skills into practice

Unlike many high school and college students, your adult workers will expect to put their new information to use. Make sure you provide pathways for employees to do more than “book learning” on new skills.

For employees who cross-train in the skills of different departments, you can have them work alongside a mentor or perform a set number of tasks with their new skills. If you need to cover an unexpected absence, then cross-trained employees may be able to fill in.

Discover how Netchex can help you better retain employees through upskilling via a Learning Management System:

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