Why more employers should be upskilling their teams and promoting within

We’ve all heard of the skills shortage that is crippling many industries at the moment...

But what if I told you, you’re in the driver’s seat to take control of this situation and nurture internal talent you already have within your organisation. A think outside (inside) the box approach to recruiting. Let me explain.

The other week I met with a client who runs a merchandise company and has been looking for a product manager for six months with no success.

When they came to me and asked for my help to find someone suitable for the role, I asked whether they had looked internally at their admin and/or warehouse staff, and if they had invested six months on training them to learn the more technical aspects of said position, would that have fixed their problems.

My client glanced back at me and I could see on their face the ‘aha’ moment. It was a path they hadn’t considered until now, that the right person for the job was already within their ranks, working inside their organisation. Suddenly they had a solution to their 6-month problem and are now in the process of upskilling a stand-out member of their admin team.

This wasn’t the first time this issue has been brought to my attention.

Last year, I was in discussion with a mine manager who highlighted that The University of Queensland had only produced a limited number of mine engineers per year over the last three years and he wasn’t sure of the long-term impact that was going to have on the industry.

I asked whether he had considered launching an internal program to put the standout mine operators through university as a retention and engagement strategy. A future-proofing approach to meet tomorrow’s requirements.

Perceived Barriers to Internal Promotion

This got me thinking about the hiring culture in workplaces, and why is it that we’re not upskilling staff and promoting internally, particularly for those hard-to-fill roles in today’s tight labour market.

Why is it that our knee-jerk reaction when filling a role is to upload a SEEK ad and look externally to fill the position?

There are many reasons why this would be the case. Some of the barriers I’ve heard and seen include:

· Companies don’t want to invest their time and resources in training someone, for them to go and leave the organisation before/shortly after said promotion

· A head in the sand mentality that it’s ‘too hard’ to balance training while this person manages their existing workload

· The pursuit of a ‘quick fix’: finding someone with a very similar skillset and experience to hit the ground running in the new role

In a recent Forbes article, it explored findings from the newly released University of Phoenix Career Optimism Index 2022 where a group of US employers were asked this very question: why they were hesitant to recruit and upskill internally.

42% said this was because it was hard ‘Finding the time for employee training’, 35% attributed this to ‘Budgeting enough money for learning and development programs’, and 29% said ‘Lack of education partners to support learning and development efforts’.

Benefits of Upskilling Internally

Spending a short time investing in training hard-working members of your existing team, who are already so immersed in the company, processes, systems and culture, can be a great solution.

In most circumstances the benefits far outweigh the perceived risks.

Employee retention is, of course, a key driver to promoting internally, which means less turnover for the business.

To paint the picture, The University of Phoenix study I cited earlier found “Four in 10 Americans do not see a clear path to advance in their careers” and 68% of American workers surveyed said “If my company did more to upskill me, I would be more likely to stay throughout my career.”

Trust was also another. By promoting internally, you’ve already witnessed the work ethic of this person, they’ve likely performed very well in their existing role and fit in with your workplace culture, team, and are across all of your systems and operations. They’re also probably eager and appreciative to learn and grow and will feel valued and more likely to stay within your organisation compared to someone new.

Another benefit is moulding the employee to do the job the way you require it to be done. A blank canvas, rather than bringing in someone who may be more rigid and unwilling to do things differently to how they were trained in previous roles.

Final thoughts

I hope this blog has raised some new ideas for you and perhaps encouraged you to assess all the options available when recruiting.

The truth is admin or warehouse staff are much easier to replace. Mid to high-level roles are not. And this methodology can apply to many industries, from HR and marketing assistants, sales assistants, PAs, admin, to recruitment consultants.

You may feel you don’t have the time. But have a think about how long it will *really* take to find the right person when recruiting externally.

What is the cost of having that role vacant? How long would it take to train someone internally? Is there someone working within your organisation that has potential to step into the role with the right training and guidance?

At Genuine Executive Engagements, when we meet with new clients, we take a big picture approach and look at your business with a wider lens to come up with genuine solutions that are going to make things easier for you and your team.

We’re all about honesty and providing consulting advice that is in the best interest of your business.

My door is always open for a chat, so if you’d like to discuss any of the points raised, I encourage you to send me a message on LinkedIn or email.

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