All Articles Leadership Workforce Why digital upskilling is no longer optional

Why digital upskilling is no longer optional

Upskilling your employees, especially in digital knowledge, is a must for companies, especially if they want to keep their top talent, writes Diane Youden.

4 min read



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Despite early signs of a hiring cool-down in certain sectors, many business leaders are still reporting higher-than normal turnover. To combat this, many companies have turned to offering more competitive salaries and benefits packages, as well as flexibility in how, where and when employees can work. There are indications that it’s working, with 65% of US employees saying they are currently satisfied with their job. But how can you boost satisfaction with the remaining employees? How can you become even more competitive in this market? 

Upskilling your workforce is no longer optional

Only 28% of domestic workers reported upskilling initiatives as something their business was pursuing, compared to 40% of global respondents. However implementing these initiatives may be necessary. A recent survey shows talent acquisition and retention ranking as the second highest business risk, with 38% of executive respondents citing it was a serious risk. Providing US employees with opportunities for career development — particularly digital upskilling such as data analysis, data visualization,and automation (AI, Robotic Process Automation) — is now an absolute essential for businesses to compete and retain skilled talent. It’s already the leading action employers across sectors are taking to address both skill and labor shortages, which means companies that don’t offer opportunities will lose out on top candidates.

Employees who feel their skills are scarce are:

  • 25% more likely than others to report feeling listened to by their managers
  • 17% more likely to feel satisfied with their job
  • 20% more likely to seek a promotion

These employees are also a pipeline for new hires: Nearly half (45%) of skilled employees said they would recommend their company as a place to work within the next 12 months, compared to just 29% of unskilled workers. Investing in your existing employees doesn’t just help them, it helps you.

From unskilled to skilled

So how do you take your employees from unskilled to skilled? Bucking conventional fears of automation, less than a third of respondents are concerned that technology will replace them in the workplace. In fact, 39% are concerned their employers aren’t providing enough digital and technological training, and the average is even higher among younger respondents.

Many US employers worry, “What happens if I upskill an employee and they leave?” Well, what happens if you don’t, and they stay? If you invest in people and they leave, that’s on you for not creating a company culture they wanted to remain a part of. If you don’t bother investing in them at all, how can you ever expect your company to grow?

Give these initiatives the high visibility they need to deliver results. Prioritize communication and transparency to clearly demonstrate your commitments to your staff so that they’ll want to remain and grow at your company.

Remember: Career growth is personal growth

If you want to foster better results from your teams, don’t just invest in upskilling their professional skills — upskill their well-being as a whole person.

Seventy-one percent of respondents say compensation is either “extremely” or “very” important when considering a changing work environment (data shows 64% of executives are increasing compensation for existing employees) but nearly the same number — 69% rank job fulfillment just as important, while 60% list knowing their team cares about their well-being.

To give an example, PwC is currently in the process of rolling out the next wave of our Talent Transformation journey, an employee-focused career management and advancement platform called My+. Programs like My+ can enable employees to access things like well-being services, professional rewards and benefits packages, feedback and career development and even value-driven communities within corporate culture. These tools can allow employees to take charge of their own career trajectories within your organization, developing the tools they — and you — need to succeed.

By investing in your employees, you create a powerful, collaborative workforce that shares your goals, values and drive for excellence, and one that is in turn invested in the well-being of your company.


Diane Youden is a PwC HR Transformation Leader with tenacious curiosity for innovation and a passion for helping HR organizations create value for their businesses.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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