Upskilling Programs and Employee Response. Part 1: 5 reasons For Lack of Employee Participation

At a time when digitization and technology are moving at a rapid pace across industries, it’s imperative that organizations put their best foot forward to ensure that they are well-prepared to handle the imminent changes. Needless to say, the time available for the prep is hardly much which means it has to be done and done now!

The only way for companies to be ready for digitization and market changes is by ensuring their employees possess the right skills and knowledge. Investing in the relevant upskilling and reskilling programs and other L&D initiatives is the pathway to help businesses face vagaries and become future-proof. More importantly, if businesses wish to leverage their most significant assets -- their employees -- they need to provide them with up-to-date learning and training so that they are on the right track.

Incidentally, it’s not just companies who need to focus on skill training for their workforce. As per the 2022 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, employees crave for skills too. In fact, the top motivation for employees to learn is that it helps them stay up to date in their field. All in all, it’s more important than ever now for organizations to set up comprehensive learning programs to upskill their workforce.

If they don’t do it now, they will have to struggle to maintain a competitive edge, attract and retain talent while also having employees who are unable to take on new challenges or even handle changing technology.

Employees and Learning Disinterest

In a utopian world, L&D teams tell their employees to undertake upskilling programs and the latter eagerly complete the training to acquire new skills. Sadly, in reality, not every employee is happy to participate in upskilling programs. Oftentimes, companies have to prod and push employees to partake in learning opportunities.

As per a study by the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, 65% employees believe their current skill set is enough to help them sail through their career. This is why even though picking up new skills through upskilling and reskilling programs is crucial to navigate uncertainties and stay relevant, not all employees feel that way. The end result is that there are hardly any willing participants in the programs and most are doing it only because it is mandatory.

There are several reasons why employees lack interest in participating in upskilling programs. In this blog, we will be examining some of them. 

1. Employees Do Not Have the Time

While upskilling programs are no doubt important, they do require employees to invest dedicated time. However, this is easier said than done given that most people have busy schedules as they essay their work roles which leaves them with no time for training.

Especially if the upskilling programs involve time-consuming and extensive training plans, they are most likely to discourage workers from participating. If companies want employees to join training, they have to ensure that the modules are flexible, concise and engaging so that more people feel like being a part of them even if it means finding time from their other responsibilities. One way is to leverage the concept of learning in the flow of work which allows employees to learn without assigning any specific hours for that.

2. Content Lacks Relevance

Upskilling programs need to be such that they address the company’s skills gaps and prepare employees for their existing or new job roles. The learning content should be relevant, up-to-date, and one that can be applied in real life too. Besides, it should align with employees’ job roles, responsibilities, and future aspirations.

Participants should be able to understand how the training can help them in their daily assignments, making their job easy. However, in the absence of this, employees will consider the training to be irrelevant and will shy away from participating in it. Irrelevant training is a key factor in the lack of takers for training programs.

3. Training has a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

The days of one-size fits all training are passe. Especially after the pandemic, as the workforce has become more scattered with a mix of remote and in-office staff, it is crucial to have upskilling programs that are very specific to job roles and skills. However, if companies continue to churn out generic training programs that are the same for all employees, they will naturally elicit a very lukewarm response.

For instance, upskilling programs designed for the sales staff will not be of any interest to those involved in product design and vice versa. The best way to close skills gaps is to create personalized L&D programs.

4. Company Doesn’t Promote Training Benefits

It is not enough to simply ask employees to be a part of upskilling programs and expect full attendance. Employees need to understand how participating in the program would benefit their careers and enhance their jobs.

They will view the programs as futile if companies do not help them understand the positive outcomes and benefits of it. However, companies often fail to promote the advantages of upskilling which leads people to think the programs are of no use in the absence of sufficient information.

5. Programs are Tedious and Boring

While upskilling programs are important for employee development, it’s also true that making them too long and boring will tire employees and make them lose interest. This will directly impact their performance and productivity affecting their existing jobs.

What makes training programs dull and boring? Including complex data, too many skills in a short time, presenting large amounts of information, and so on can overwhelm employees, reducing learning efficacy. The result is that even though people have completed the program, it is more often only for the certification while the actual knowledge retention could be poor.

Key Takeaway

Even though upskilling programs offer myriad benefits, they may not always attract people in hordes. Employees will continue to struggle with completing the training and even dislike the learning process.

While this blog gave an overview of why employees do not participate in upskilling programs, Part 2 of Upskilling Programs and Employee Response will look at what action L&D teams can take to ensure employees are excited about being a part of the programs.

Stay Tuned!