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Why micro-upskilling will help HR teams improve talent retention

The need to invest in people and expand employee skillsets isn’t anything new or unexpected. Yet many organisations still lack a genuine learning culture where continuous, structured upskilling is a core strategy for enhancing talent development and improving retention.

The Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) Talent committee, comprising HR and L&D professionals from various industry sectors, regularly meet to discuss all things people.

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They believe many businesses are crying out for more benefits that focus on talent development and job satisfaction to counteract this extremely challenging recruitment climate – continuous, structured upskilling has been highlighted as one of the key solutions.

Upskilling is crucial for improving talent retention. Recent research found that 32% of UK employees changed jobs in last 12 months because their employer didn’t offer upskilling or training opportunities.


Creating a genuine learning culture

When people feel supported and that their career is being invested in – with clear, structured progression opportunities laid out – it strengthens their relationship with an organisation.

For upskilling to become increasingly effective, and to create a genuine learning culture, senior management personnel need to give direction, support, and structure to our staff’s development. Yet that’s easier said than done.

Even though HR and L&D professionals have always been aware of this, there is the challenge of getting this message across and its value seen by both the senior management team and wider organisation. The usual suspects are to blame: a lack of time, finance and staff resource for lengthy training days or extensive training programmes.

These are some of the main reasons that the DMA is working with our member community to introduce micro-upskilling as a key element of membership, to help marketing personnel enhance their skillsets, improve employee job satisfaction, and drive responsible business growth.

Micro-upskilling asks businesses and their employees to commit as little as one hour a week per employee to structured e-learning and professional development.

A little and often mentality creates a habit that can fit around other responsibilities without damaging productivity – that’s important as technology evolves and professionals increasingly struggle to find the time to upskill via lengthy training days.

It can also allow skills acquisition in the short-term, while instilling a long-term learning habit that benefits the employee and employer.

Regularly upskilling an hour per week also makes learning more effective. Research has found that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information presented. Within a week, as much as 90% of material is forgotten on average.


Making people a priority 

While we believe micro-upskilling will expand the availability of highly sought-after creative, digital and data-driven marketing skills across our industry, there is little reason why this can’t be replicated and extended to every sector.

It is imperative that a culture of continuous, structured learning be developed across the entire workforce to address talent shortages.

We must act now to become more talent-focused, creating business cultures with continuous, structured learning front and centre. If we are to make staff feel more valued and a part of the organisation’s long-term vision, thus improving talent retention and employee satisfaction, this people-first approach will be essential.


Rachel Aldighieri is managing director of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA)