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Tackle adversity by investing in your teams

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

After the last few years, businesses are no strangers to difficult times. COVID-19, quiet quitting, the Great Resignation, persistent skills shortages, and economic uncertainty have compounded and truly tested many organisations.

This adversity can be made easier by investing in the workforce already on hand through upskilling.

Hays chief executive Alistair Cox said: “See this period of adversity and struggle as an opportunity to proactively strengthen the skills within your teams.


“Your employees will thank you for it because engaging in something purposeful and positive can help them deal with their own anxieties right now … Furthermore, by investing in them now, you are proactively showing them that you are investing in their future.”

Hays noted that in the post-COVID era of work, upskilling is necessary to business success, and until we achieve economic stability, it will help organisations to thrive.

“Today, as some organisations return to growth and others chart their way back to recovery, upskilling is gaining focus once more to ensure teams are prepared for what is likely to be a very different tomorrow,” said Jane McNeill, Hays NSW and Western Australia managing director.

With this in mind, Hays listed three key benefits of upskilling:

1. Preparing for the new era of work: “The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it significant change to the world of work and is likely to continue doing so. From hybrid working to evolving customer attitudes, priorities and expectations — we won’t all do business or shop in the same way again.”

“While it’s difficult to predict future change, by developing an upskilling focus now, you’ll be able to constantly evolve your workforce’s skills to meet your team’s future skills requirements, regardless of what they may be.”

2. Employee motivation: “Prioritising upskilling can help to instil motivation and morale in your employees as we emerge from the pandemic. Doing so will highlight to your team that you value their development and are committed to helping them achieve their career goals.”

3. Safeguarding retention: “Since early 2021, vacancy activity has increased across Australia. At the same time, employees are prioritising development after a year in which many felt their career stagnated. Providing upskilling allows you to show you care about your employees’ development and are prepared to invest in them long term. This helps to increase employee loyalty and engagement, giving you a solid retention advantage.”

The benefits of upskilling are clear; what may be tricky, however, is how to gauge what skills need to be improved and who needs it most. This is where a skills analysis can be helpful.

Hays said that conducting a skills analysis for each employee can identify skills gaps and help leaders to decide which are most important to improve upon.

Hays listed three steps for implementing an effective skills analysis:

  1. List the skills that are necessary for success for each role in your team, then rate each person against them. When writing each list, think about how each role might change in the future and what skills will become more important as a result.
  2. Then, ask each team member to rate themselves too, and discuss your conclusions together.
  3. This will bring any skills gaps to the fore, which will allow you to begin focusing on your upskilling plan for each team member.

Now that the reasons for upskilling and a great way to learn how to implement policy have been discussed, Hays said all that’s left is supporting your team through this period.

Six tips for assisting employees in their development, as listed by Hays, are:

  1. Research training platforms that you could roll out across your team.
  2. Give your team time to upskill.
  3. Arrange a weekly team call that is solely dedicated to learning and development.
  4. Assign each team member an internal mentor
  5. Set up a group chat dedicated to upskilling.
  6. Ensure you’re continuing to upskill yourself, too.



The term "workforce" or "labour force" refers to the group of people who are either employed or unemployed.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.