How to Upskill Formerly Displaced Employees on Your Team

September 12, 2019

Upskill displaced employees

From January 2015 through December 2017, three million people in the U.S. were displaced from jobs they held for at least three years, according to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. By January 2018, 66% of those displaced workers were reemployed.

Displacement impacts people everywhere, across industries and positions. Chances are, you have one or more employees on your team who were displaced from their previous jobs. Whether they’re reentering the workforce quickly or lost their job long ago, the effects of displacement remain. To keep displaced employees satisfied, HR professionals and managers must effectively upskill talent in a way that entices them to stay onboard.

In fact, 38.7% of displaced workers in a new report by our team at Berke, The Displaced: How to Reach an Overlooked Talent Pool, said career development opportunities are a top consideration when looking for a new job. Additionally, 41.3% said they would continue looking for a new job if there were no career development opportunities in the company they were considering.

3 steps to effective upskilling

Companies must present upskilling opportunities to this employee group in a unique way. Their past experiences have shifted their perspective and priorities.

Here’s how you can upskill formerly displaced employees:

Foster a culture of growth. Career growth is critical to displaced workers. However, they have to be connected to your company culture to stick around for future opportunities. Our report found that culture fit is essential for nearly half (49.5%) of respondents, who said they wouldn’t accept a job offer if they didn’t like the culture.

Unfortunately, just because someone has accepted your job offer doesn’t mean you’ve succeeded in making that connection between your culture, growth, and the employee. Only 6.1% of respondents said they would stop looking for a job once they find one.

To encourage retention, managers and HR professionals should welcome displaced workers into their culture and highlight the employee’s personal ability to grow with that culture. A culture of growth is especially vital for displaced employees because they want to feel connected to a culture where their future is secure.

Provide this security by sitting down face-to-face with your formerly displaced employees. Discuss why you value their unique skill set, and detail how the organization’s culture will support their growth.

Now, show them your culture of growth in action. Provide mentorship opportunities with employees who have evolved with the organization. Ask mentors to share how they’ve taken advantage of upskilling offered by the company and where those opportunities have led their career. Encourage them to explain what leadership has done to encourage growth and how that support is ingrained in the culture.

Invest in the employee’s unique skill set. Not surprisingly, we found the majority (51.6%) of displaced workers were concerned about their personal finances after losing a job.

Displaced employees need more than a job to start feeling secure again. They need to feel that their managers value them enough to invest in their future. For 37.8% of our respondents, this comes in the form of cross-training, which will give them a confidence boost in their skills.

Invest in employees by allowing them guilt-free time to cross-train on a position they’re interested in. Giving them this space to learn new skills shows that company leaders are willing to pay for them to learn, not just do their job.

Design a mutually beneficial career map. A culture of growth and investment in upskilling means nothing if it’s not directly connected to a career path. Displaced workers know what it’s like to have an unclear future. Mapping out their growth with the company as something beneficial to both parties shows displaced workers they’re needed.

As a first step, outline the skills and traits that the organization is lacking to evolve in the future. Compare those skills and traits to each displaced employee. Connecting employees’ innate strengths with the needs of the company creates a path forward.

This momentum shows employees their contributions are beneficial to both their personal career journey and the company’s future success. Then, discuss a strategic career map with a potential timeline. Pinpoint each employee’s personal career goals and upskilling opportunities and show how those new skills will fill voids in the company and propel the person’s future forward.

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About The Author

Kelly Land is the co-founder and CEO of Berke, an assessment technology that helps companies know who to hire. Connect with Land and the Berke team on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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