How to Start to Upskill Long Term Employees

Long-term employees are valuable assets for any organisation, helping it grow and increasing its retention rate. Employees who have been working with a company for years demonstrate a stable and positive environment, reassuring new employees.

Besides, employee loyalty is obviously a huge factor to consider. This is why it pays off to upskill long term employees as your organisation grows and requires a skilled workforce for more complex tasks.

We all know how complex recruitment and workforce management can be. It’s much more efficient to upskill long term employees, rather than inducting new recruits into your team. Of course, in many situations you don’t have a choice besides hiring new employees. It’s all about striking a balance and retaining your existing workforce as much as possible.

What does upskilling your employees mean?

As your organisation grows over the years, so would its range of products and services. Besides, the constant technological evolution requires you to implement new machinery and software too. At some point, the skills of your current workforce might become obsolete or you might simply need them to bring more capabilities to the table.

In such situations, you have two choices – you may either hire new employees who possess the necessary skills or upskill long term employees within the organisation. The second option involves training employees who have been with your company for a long time to help them develop new skills. Depending on the type of skill in question, there are several ways to go about it – providing resources for self-training, in-house mentorship, enrolment in training programs, etc.

Upskilling vs. hiring new employees

Now, you might be wondering whether it’s really better to upskill long term employees instead of getting new recruits. Especially if you have to enrol your employees in major training courses, upskilling might be an expensive investment. Let’s check out how your two options fare against each other and how you can benefit if you upskill long term employees.

Employee loyalty

The biggest advantage with long-term employees is that they have already shown their loyalty towards your organisation. They’re very less likely to leave the company unless something goes very wrong or they get a much better job offer. This way, you have a high surety that your investment in upskilling your workforce won’t go to waste.

New employees, however might leave your organisation soon if they decide it’s not a good fit. All the money and effort spent on recruiting them would be for nothing.

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The need for onboarding

When you upskill long term employees, you don’t have to worry about getting them oriented to your company. They’re already familiar and experienced with your business and can get to work right away. However, new recruits require onboarding and may need some time to get acquainted with their team members. Upskilled long-term employees can thus deliver high productivity much quicker than new employees.


The expenses associated with upskilling your current workforce are likely the single major reason why might be hesitant about it. However, have you considered the cost of hiring a new recruit? Their salary isn’t the only expense – arranging for interviews, developing job postings and advertising vacancies require some spending too. Ultimately, it’s much more cost-effective to upskill long term employees.


According to 76% of hiring managers, it’s a challenge to attract the right candidate for a job posting in the first place. You’ll then have to filter candidates based on both hard and soft skills, vet applications and pick the best ones. The whole recruitment process is complex and admittedly takes a lot of effort. You’d find it much more convenient to upskill long term employees and promote them.

Increasing your overall manpower

This is possibly the only aspect where you can benefit from hiring new employees. If your existing workforce is simply too small to handle the increasing workload, you need to grow your team. In this case, it makes sense to rope in new employees to add the necessary manpower and relieve your employees a little. Even then, it would be wiser to upskill long term employees and give them a more important job position, filling their old spot with a new recruit.

How to upskill long term employees?

It might initially seem like a challenge to upskill long term employees and make them capable of handling new responsibilities. Don’t worry, it’s just a matter of finding out what kind of training suits which job role. Here are 6 of the best ways to upskill long term employees.

Providing them with learning resources

This is one of the simplest ways to help your employees gain new skills. For instance, if you need your IT employees to be more capable of handling your cloud infrastructure, you may buy them an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Study Guide.

Provided that they already have some experience in this field, they can use the study guide in conjunction with other learning resources and grow their skills. You may also provide your employees with learning resources alongside other upskilling measures.

Sponsoring training courses

Sometimes, enrolling in a training program or a self-learning course is the only way to develop the necessary skills. Sponsoring such courses for your employees is a great way to get them trained professionally. Besides, when you upskill your long term employees by investing in training courses for them, it shows them you really care. This nurtures their loyalty towards the organisation even more.

Peer mentoring

This is a very effective way to upskill long term employees while promoting teamwork and building a healthy workplace culture. However, peer mentoring is an option only when you already have at least one employee with the necessary skills.

He/she can mentor less experienced employees, passing on the knowledge and guiding them. Besides being a cheap and convenient way to upskill your employees, peer monitoring also facilitates the sharing of practical experiences.

Peer coaching

This might seem very similar to peer mentoring and it’s true to some extent. However, peer mentoring involves two-way knowledge sharing where employees teach and guide each other. For instance, you could pair two employees with different job roles from the same or related fields to work together.

They can watch each other’s work and exchange their skills. You may upskill long term employees this way when you already have employees with the necessary skills but would like to diversify their individual skill sets.

Hiring external trainers

If you’d rather upskill long term employees through in-house training but don’t have anyone to train them, peer coaching and mentoring aren’t possible. In such cases, you can rope in external trainers instead.

This somewhat blends the perks of sponsored training programs and other in-house upskilling methods. However, hiring external trainers to upskill long term employees offers more flexibility than enrolling them in a training program.

Job rotation

You may temporarily rotate your employees between different job positions within the organisation to train them. This helps you cross-train your employees for different job roles and responsibilities, so that they can fill in for each other if needed.

Besides, this also helps your employees get accustomed to different departments in the organisation and build professional connections.

7 tips on upskilling your employees

Image: Pexels

7 tips on upskilling your employees

As you can see by now, you have plenty of ways to upskill long term employees for different job roles. Having a sound learning and development strategy can be of great help in this regard. The more efficiently you can upskill your employees, the more effective it process would be. Below are some tips on upskilling your employees.

Identify your priorities

While there might be plenty of scope for improvements, you need to narrow down your priorities. To secure the highest ROI from upskilling, you need to identify which employees to upskill and decide what skills they should develop as per the company’s goals.

Conduct a skills audit within the organisation to check for skills gaps. This will reveal all the areas that need improvement, following which you can set your priorities.

Promote self-training

Encouraging your employees to self-train is a great way to upskill long term employees without investing a lot of funds in the process. Discuss with your employees about the skills they want to develop or skills that would help them perform their job responsibilities better.

You may incentivise self-training by rewarding employees who upskill themselves on their own initiative, outside work hours. This will make your employees eager to develop important skills in their own time. Besides, you’re less likely to lose them to other companies if you reward their efforts.

Nurture a learning culture

The workplace culture has a huge impact on your employees’ willingness to learn new skills. You can foster a learning culture by providing constant guidance apart from formal training. Encourage your employees to coach and learn from each other.

You may also upskill long term employees by supporting education that helps improve their soft skills, such as learning a new language. A healthy learning environment automatically keeps the employees curious and eager to learn more.

Offer upskilled employees new opportunities

Once you upskill long term employees, don’t let their new skills go to waste. They’re more likely to be poached away by other companies if you don’t give them an opportunity to utilise their newly learned skills. Take up new projects if needed and give your upskilled employees new roles and assignments. This will not only help the employees practice and develop their new skills, but also show them that their efforts have been fruitful.

Make upskilling a part of employee performance and development plans

Encouraging your employees to develop their skills should already help a great deal, but what if you integrate upskilling into their performance and development plans? You may set the acquisition of certain skills as your employees’ annual goals.

In turn, this would link to their future promotions. Workers are much more likely to work towards upskilling themselves knowing that it would get them a promotion.

Track the progress of your employees

Don’t just stop at upskilling your employees – also check for any scope of improvement. There’s no guarantee that your L&D strategy is working. The only way to know for sure is to follow up and track your employees’ progress.

You may do this by giving them test projects, getting them to complete assessments or simply asking them to report on their learnings. This will help determine what’s working and what isn’t and you can optimise your upskilling strategy accordingly.

Use microlearning strategies

Time constraints are one of the biggest challenges you might face when you try to upskill long term employees. Admittedly, someone working full-time in your organisation with a packed routine might find it impossible to undergo full-fledged formal training.

For these employees, microlearning is the perfect solution. Also known as bite-sized education, it involves very short lessons – around three to six minutes each. Microlearning is far more feasible to fit into a busy schedule and is perfect for remote workers too.

Would your employees appreciate being upskilled?

Your employees would certainly appreciate it if you take the initiative to help them develop better skills. A survey carried out during January 2022 revealed that 75% of employees are satisfied or very satisfied with the upskilling and reskilling programs at their workplace. Rest assured that your efforts to upskill long term employees won’t go unnoticed.

The above graph shows the satisfaction level of employees regarding workplace training for upskilling and reskilling, as of January 2022.

In Summary

To sum up, upskilling long term employees is all about investing in the skill development of workers who have been loyal to your company and helped it grow.

Upskilling has become especially more necessary and popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, with drastic changes in every industry. In a survey carried out by Citrix in 2020, 82% of employers and 64% of HR directors responded that employees require upskilling or reskilling once every year.

Evidently, it pays off to upskill long term employees in your organisation. You’ll have to figure out a suitable learning and development solution based on your goals, requirements and skill gaps. It’s best to create a comprehensive and flexible upskilling strategy that’s convenient for the organisation and its employees alike.


About the Author

Fahad Khan is a Product Manager and digital marketing enthusiast who works at Ubuy Technologies. Content marketing, PPC, email, and social media marketing are among his areas of expertise. He has been exploring the field of digital marketing to share his pearls of wisdom with the whole world. He enjoys working on different niches and creating valuable content for readers.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q