Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

Upskilling is Investing in Your Team—and There’s No Better Growth Strategy

SHRM has partnered with to bring you relevant articles on key HR topics and strategies.


The employees within our organizations all possess unique skill sets—their varied interests and expertise are why we hired them. These diverse talents are the bedrock of company success. Just as our employees help us grow our organizations, it’s vital that we invest back into their growth.

However, relying solely on existing skill sets can limit growth and innovation for our teams and companies. One of the most pivotal yet often overlooked facets of growth lies in upskilling. It’s more than a mere augmentation of skill sets; it empowers teams, fortifies organizational resilience, and propels operations toward sustainable excellence.

Investing in employee development enhances individual potential while also fortifying the collective strength of our workforce. It’s a holistic metamorphosis that reshapes how businesses navigate complexities and embrace opportunities in an era of relentless change.

Understanding Upskilling: Beyond Skill Enhancement

At its essence, upskilling signifies a commitment to continuous learning and development within an organization. This multifaceted process involves not only addressing current skill gaps but also anticipating future industry trends. It’s imperative to recognize that upskilling isn’t a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment that evolves alongside technological advancements and market demands.

Upskilling initiatives encompass a spectrum of approaches, from technical training to soft skill development. Technical expertise is essential, but equally crucial are intangible skills such as critical thinking, adaptability and emotional intelligence. These competencies foster a more agile, collaborative and innovative workforce, essential in navigating the complexities of today’s business landscape.

Dispelling Misconceptions: Investment, Not Expense

It’s important not to think of upskilling as a cost. Instead, it’s a strategic investment in every employee within your organization, which is an investment into the future of your company. The initial resources allocated to training programs yield substantial returns. Businesses that prioritize upskilling not only nurture their talent but also future-proof their operations. The agility and adaptability gained through upskilling initiatives enable organizations to seize emerging opportunities and stay ahead in competitive markets.

Also, the benefits of upskilling extend far beyond individual skill enhancement. They contribute to a positive work environment, higher employee morale, and increased retention rates. Employees feel valued and invested in when organizations demonstrate a commitment to their growth, fostering a sense of loyalty and dedication to achieving collective objectives.

Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Upskilling isn’t just a means to address immediate skill gaps. It helps to build and maintain a culture that thrives on continual enhancement, where learning is encouraged and there is support from fellow colleagues all the way up to the C-suite. This involves not only providing training opportunities but also promoting a mindset that values learning from experiences and sharing knowledge among colleagues.

Effective communication, leadership and adaptability are essential for navigating the complexities of a rapidly changing business landscape. Investing in these skills strengthens teamwork, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and fosters a more cohesive and resilient workforce.

The Broader Impact: Upskilling Beyond the Organization

Beyond its internal implications, upskilling has a ripple effect on the broader economic landscape. Organizations that invest in upskilling contribute significantly to economic growth by fostering innovation and productivity. Additionally, these businesses often become industry leaders, setting benchmarks for excellence and driving overall market standards.

Upskilling initiatives can also address societal challenges by empowering individuals with the skills needed for employment in evolving industries. This not only benefits the workforce but also contributes to the economic development of communities and regions.

Implementing an effective upskilling strategy demands a comprehensive approach. Initiatives should begin with thorough assessments of current skill gaps while also forecasting future industry trends. Tailoring training programs to bridge these gaps while aligning with organizational goals ensures relevance and applicability.

Fostering an environment that encourages continuous learning through mentorship, workshops, online courses and real-time experiences amplifies the impact of upskilling initiatives. Leaders play a crucial role in driving this initiative, championing a culture that values and prioritizes learning and growth.

Leadership’s Role: Championing a Culture of Learning and Risk-Taking

Leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering a culture of learning within an organization. It begins with a mindset shift—an acknowledgment that learning isn’t a one-time event but an ongoing endeavor integral to staying competitive and relevant. Leaders must champion this ethos by setting the tone from the top down.

They need to communicate the value of upskilling and continuous learning. This involves transparently discussing the rapidly changing industry landscapes and the need for adaptable skill sets. Leaders who openly endorse and participate in learning initiatives set a powerful example for others to follow. Leaders must also extend their commitment beyond mere endorsement; it involves allocating resources, both financial and temporal, towards learning programs. This commitment might mean dedicating a budget specifically for training, providing time off for learning activities or partnering with educational institutions or online platforms to offer tailored courses.

Another crucial aspect is creating a safe space for experimentation and learning from failure. Leaders need to encourage risk-taking and iterate the idea that setbacks are stepping stones toward growth. When employees feel supported in their quest for new skills, they are more likely to embrace learning opportunities without fear of retribution for potential mistakes.

Ultimately, leaders play the role of enablers and cheerleaders in the upskilling journey, continually reinforcing the message that learning is not just encouraged but celebrated. Their active involvement and unwavering support signal to employees that the organization is invested in their growth, fostering loyalty, motivation and a shared commitment to staying ahead of the curve. When you invest in the future of your employees, you invest in the future of your organization.


Bent Philipson is the Founder of Philosophy Care, a consulting firm providing a range of services to skilled nursing facilities.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.