Last updated: 19.01.23

How to better upskill your staff with digital training

Over 74% of workers are thinking of quitting their jobs in 2023 , but the reason why may surprise you. According to Censuswide research, almost 7 in 10 UK workers want to upskill as part of their workplace development — and over two thirds are willing to quit if these needs aren’t met.

In a time when skills shortages are on the rise and most workers are able to work remotely, many employers are looking for new ways to retain talent and fill skills gaps triggered by the pandemic. For most, upskilling staff with effective workplace training has been the solution.

While there are several challenges with upskilling your workforce, there are also many benefits. In this article, we will discuss industry top tips and practical steps on how to better upskill your staff with digital training.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling refers to providing current employees with the tools to develop existing or additional skills. It enables staff to improve their skills and confidence whilst allowing employers to fill existing skills gaps and improve business performance.

What are the benefits of upskilling your staff?

Workplace training isn’t just something many employees want and have come to expect from their employers. Upskilling your staff also has a number of benefits for your business too, including:

Employee retention

One of the main reasons colleagues move on is lack of personal development and career growth. Investing in upskilling employees shows you value your employees’ futures, which will help retain top talent and keep them away from your competitors.

Cost saving

Hiring new employees is expensive and time consuming. In fact, it costs around 1.5x an employee’s annual salary to replace them.

Upskilling an existing employee is a much smaller investment than training a new worker. And without the need of retraining new talent, upskilling allows you to better serve your customers with a more efficient, well-rounded workforce.

Recruitment tool

Remember what we said about 7 in 10 workers looking for upskill opportunities from their employers? Offering ongoing development, training and upskilling opportunities can act as a powerful recruitment tool when you look to secure new talent.

Increase productivity

Employees that upskill become more productive in their work. With increased confidence and additional skills, they can complete tasks more effectively and efficiently, resulting in better workflow, employee engagement and collaboration. 

Futureproof your business

Following the pandemic and the rapid digitisation of the UK workplace, many employers are struggling to plug the growing skills gap. With many employees forced to take on additional responsibilities with little training or knowledge, upskilling can help bridge this gap by arming workers with a diverse set of skills which can prepare your business for future change.

Build trust

Use your staff’s skills and training to your advantage by letting potential clients know how it helps you deliver high quality services or products.

Common challenges faced by businesses when upskilling staff (and how to overcome them)

Upskilling staff — and doing so effectively — is not without its challenges. As the working world undergoes rapid digitisation, Human Resources (HR) professionals are facing increasing pressures to help staff develop skills that will help them plug skills gaps and take on new responsibilities.

The most common challenges facing businesses who are looking to upskill staff can include:

  1. Resource limitations: HR teams have many competing priorities as well as time and budget constraints.
  2. Application considerations: To ensure programmes deliver value, training needs to be easily applicable and actionable.
  3. Employee time constraints: Staff members have full schedules, so finding time to participate in a workshop or course can be challenging.
  4. New ways of working: Following the Coronavirus pandemic, many employees now follow hybrid or remote working models that can prove challenging when delivering upskill training.

To break down these barriers and establish an upskilling strategy that serves your business, many employers turn to ready-to-go digital training. A favourite among many employers, plug-and-go learning can help businesses overcome the above challenges by providing flexible, affordable and easily actionable upskill training in a wide variety of subjects.

What are the benefits of upskilling your staff with digital training?

Digital training offers many benefits to employers who are looking to upskill their workforce. Not only does it allow businesses to overcome resource, time and application constraints, it is also proven to be:


Without the need for commuting costs, losses in productivity, or in-person delivery, online learning is extremely cost effective when compared with traditional in-person training.


Digital training enables your team to learn whenever and wherever it suits them, allowing you and your staff to fit training around the needs of your business.

Tailored to you

Whether you want to train your staff on business fundamentals like marketing or finance, or a course specific to your industry, there are multiple options available to help you better upskill your staff with digital learning.

Saves time

Online courses typically require 60% less employee time, allowing them to develop skills more efficiently.

Bitesize learning

Most eLearning courses can be offered in short, concise modules. This allows employees to fit their learning around personal and business needs, as well as allowing them time to digest and reflect on what they have just learnt, providing a better learner experience.

Improved knowledge retention

According to Finance Online, learners retain up to 60% more knowledge from online learning compared to face-to-face programmes.

How businesses can take advantage of online collaboration tools within hybrid working to accompany digital training

With the majority of businesses now following a hybrid or fully remote working model, digital training can be an essential component to the effective upskilling of staff — allowing your employees the freedom to develop skills no matter where they work.

But upskill opportunities don’t have to start and end with online courses. Savvy business leaders also take advantage of online collaboration tools to enhance their digital training to help:

Share expertise

Solidify learning by allowing colleagues to teach or share their newly developed skills with colleagues. Known as the protégé effect, sharing newly-acquired knowledge with peers can help solidify learning and enable employees to apply new skills.

Connect employees with a mentor

86% of professionals say that having access to a mentor is an important factor in them staying with an organisation. As many of us continue to work flexibly from various locations, the ability to connect with a mentor has proven to be increasingly challenging for many employees.

However, online collaboration tools can help facilitate mentorship by enabling colleagues to overcome these obstacles. By allowing mentees and mentors to build relationships remotely, both employers and employees can reap the benefits of these valuable relationships. Whether you choose to connect mentors with employees through networking, personal connections or a formal programme, mentors can provide the following benefits:

  • They encourage and empower an employee’s personal development
  • They help colleagues to identify and achieve career goals
  • They can help identify and correct gaps in skills and knowledge
  • They increase employee confidence
  • They help employees develop and maintain a broader perspective on career options and opportunities
  • They teach employees about what they know and their past experiences

Practical tips on how to bring effective digital training into your business

While many employers know they want to upskill their workforce, some are unsure on how best to implement effective digital training into their business. To establish where your upskill needs lie, follow these below steps:

Identify your training needs

Ask yourself:

  • What skills gaps currently exist in your business?
  • What areas of improvement are needed to grow your business?
  • How are these skills aligned with your business needs and future goals?

It is also worthwhile to ask your staff which skills they feel they need to develop as part of their role.

Find the right courses

Once you know what skills you need, it’s time to match these up with the right course or qualification. As eLearning experts, Virtual College offers hundreds of ready-to-go online courses on a range of topics spanning HR, Digital Marketing, Microsoft Office and more. For more information on which courses, skill levels, or topics would best suit your business, please contact a member of our team today.

Create a plan

Tracking performance is easy with online training. Create a development plan for your employees so you can better monitor their progress and measure outcomes.

Top tips on how to effectively upskill your staff with digital learning

Effective upskilling of your staff goes beyond just digital training. Once your employees have completed their eLearning, there are many steps employers can take to reinforce learning and gain more value from their investment:

Reflect, grow and develop

Managers should encourage their teams to continue their learning outside of their digital learning courses and utilise their new skills in everyday life at the office. The best way to upskill is to ensure that expertise is constantly being shared — collaboration and frequent reflection, for example, can allow skills to be shared throughout the workforce

Skill retention

The retention of new skills is essential to ensuring that your upskill initiative is worthwhile. In fact, it is much more valuable for businesses for employees to retain a few new skills, than it is for them to constantly acquire new ones. The easiest way to achieve this is through continuous Learning and Development (L&D) opportunities for your staff, which will allow employees to better reflect on and utilise their skills.

Set goals and measure outcomes

To ensure the success of your upskilling initiative, it should be goal-posted and documented in a policy. This is the easiest way to ensure you create a strong learning culture within your business, and will ensure L&D is monitored and effectively delivered to your workforce.

Don’t just learn new skills, apply them

Acquiring new skills through training is just the start of your upskilling initiative. The difficult part is often applying these skills to everyday work-related tasks. At first, this can seem difficult to facilitate, but by equipping teams with the training they need and setting clear outcomes, many will embrace their new skills and use them to enhance their work output.

Build a culture of learning

Provide your teams with the opportunity to reflect on their learning throughout their digital learning. By allowing employees the space to provide feedback into the process, you will build a culture of learning that nurtures opportunities for development.

Why Virtual College?

With 27 years’ experience, helping you translate your business requirements into learning is our specialism. We collaborate closely with you to:

  • Get to the heart of your culture and your people and what matters to them
  • Build impactful experiences designed around your learners
  • Evolve your training programmes for the long-term by analysing impact and considering ever-changing business and people goals

Speak to our team today to find out how we can solve your employee upskill challenges.