Here’s why upskilling employees will help businesses thrive post-COVID19

Members of the LinkedIn Learning team show attendees how the online learning platform can help students both supplement their current curriculum as well as prepare for their job search at Microsoft's EDU event on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

By Aisyah Liliana 

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The global health crisis has created challenges for businesses in just about every sector. Managers and leaders around the world face new challenges, including preparing staff and their organisations to operate in a post-COVID-19 world despite an uncertain economy. But this necessitates upskilling employees to help a business weather the storm.

COVID-19 has radically shifted the way we work and operate. 

Many companies are still anxious about hiring while navigating with the challenges that come with working from home, or a combination of remote and working from the office; businesses that have yet to go digital are scrambling to recalibrate and change their business models to meet changing needs and in ensuring their sustainability. 

So how do managers and leaders design a new normal?


Upskilling employees during a pandemic can help businesses thrive

A Harvard survey of 50 companies across countries and industries showed that business leaders are working hard to adapt to the COVID-19 threat. Some organisations have introduced new training and compliance models, committed to employees’ mental well-being and fairness, and practicing inclusive and bilateral communication.

Meanwhile, in building a workforce you’ll need post-COVID-19, research and advisory company Gartner said: “focus less on roles — which group unrelated skills — than on the skills needed to drive the organisation’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel that advantage”. 

“Encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role. Offer greater career development support to employees in critical roles who lack critical skills,” it said.

Similarly, failure for managers and leaders to recognise that investing in personal growth and professional development as a strategic priority can mean falling behind. Instead, leaders should focus on how they can train employees to strengthen an organisation’s capabilities.

Each department or division will require different upskilling efforts. 

For instance, companies that need to invest in more remote working technologies and tools will need to ensure staff is also trained to use this software and devices. HR processes may need to be automated to facilitate changes in a post-COVID19 workplace. Sales reps may need to come up with new creative ways to do sales and engage with clients or customers. Company leaders may need leadership training to help them build their soft skills and instil trust in employees.

Human Resource Executive notes that HR leaders can build new capabilities during COVID-19 by optimising virtual learning. This includes deciding which learning solutions need to be re-imagined into virtual formats.


Not all companies realise the benefits of learning and development during a pandemic, but others are seizing this moment.  

Earl’s Restaurant chain, a family-owned premium casual dining chain of 68 restaurants in the US and Canada, is investing in virtual learning not just for their leadership team, but for its 6,500-strong workforce. 

Rob Craig, manager of Training and Development, told Human Resource Executive, “We are using personalised adaptive learning to bring a laser focus to what new skills are needed to prepare our front-line kitchen crew and servers to return to work in a safe manner. 

“These new skills range from how to maximise space in a small kitchen, connect with guests from behind a face mask, use proper etiquette in greeting guests, and be proficient in guiding guests to use new technologies (in place of paper menus) to order dinner.”

Indubitably, as the way we work shifts, this heightens the need for employees to upskill and reskill in preparation for a post-COVID-19 world to not only drive change but to overcome business challenges, which makes it essential for companies to look into training, workshops and certifications to help them achieve this goal.