Is new tech standing in between your team and success? Are industry trends changing faster than you can keep up? When it feels like your company or team is falling behind, it can be tempting to look for expertise from the outside. But with careful planning, the solution to your problems might already be sitting in your morning stand-ups.

There are many reasons why companies are better off investing in their own employees than relying on outside hires. It’s less expensive, maintains internal and client relations and benefits overall employee morale.

But in an ever-changing market, the need for new skills is a constant. And while adaptability and employee retention might seem to be at odds with one another, businesses can keep both their employees and their footing in the market through upskilling and reskilling programs.

What’s the difference between upskilling and reskilling in the workforce?

Upskilling and reskilling are tools that your organization can use to stay competitive without having to rely on outside additions. Upskilling is a term used when an employee gains new skills and knowledge that pertains to their current role and career path. 

Reskilling, meanwhile, relates to an employee learning entirely new skills that may set them on a different career path. These skills usually fill a need for the organization, often while the employee’s current skill set is being phased out or becoming less important.

A good example of upskilling would be a video editor familiarizing themselves with new software to stay up to date with emerging technology. A similar example of reskilling would be an SEO copywriter learning more about video production as an organization transitions from written to video content.

In both cases, the employee is empowered by adding new skills and knowledge, while the organization saves itself the stress of finding someone entirely new. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what investing in employee skills development can do for your organization.  


A group of employees sit in on a training session.

Why invest in employee development?

Adaptability and employee retention are among the biggest issues facing businesses in 2024. Employee skills development can be a useful solution for both. Employee development programs empower workers to improve their skillset and make themselves more valuable in the workforce, increasing their overall job satisfaction and morale. Meanwhile, employers are able to fill a skills gap from within, usually with a trusted and valued employee. 

Upskilling and reskilling aren’t just trendy buzzwords, either — their effect on job satisfaction has real impacts. A 2023 report by LinkedIn found that employees who have had at least one internal move within their company have a 75% likelihood of staying with the organization, compared to a 56% chance for those with no internal moves. You can help employees make those moves when you invest in their development. 

It should be no surprise that those employees will return the favor by staying committed to a company that invests in their success. After all, a well-oiled skills development program is just a pipeline of top talent that you’ve already hired. You’ll never be far from filling a skills gap or weakness in the company, and your employees will know they have upward mobility within the organization

Plus, companies that value upskilling and reskilling tend to be more adaptable to changes in their industry. Workers with valued soft skills (effective communication, creativity, problem solving, etc.) can always learn new hard skills as the need for them arises, and with the groundwork for employee development in place, this process can be easily altered for each specific skill. Not only will your company save money and stress by promoting or reassigning roles from within, but you might also find that your organization’s top decision makers are more intimately familiar with their products, clients and industry than your competitors are.

Things to keep in mind when implementing employee development programs

The first question you should ask when implementing upskilling or reskilling programs is what your current business goals are.  While empowering and training your employees is important, your efforts should be centered on areas that can help the business the most as a whole. Identify your goals and look at any impediments to success in those areas. If any skills gaps are keeping you from succeeding, those are great areas to look into upskilling and/or reskilling.

Upskilling programs, in particular, also work best when there is a clear path to success. If you can map out an employee’s path within the company and identify the skills and milestones that will help them move forward, they’ll know you aren’t just dangling a carrot in front of them. 

This includes real-time metrics of success along the way. Employees are more likely to stay committed to a company when they’re told exactly where they’re at in their progression toward certain goals. This can be done with regular one-on-ones and check-ins regarding specific goals. 

A steady stream of attaboys and pats on the back just won’t cut it; today’s workers value transparency, and giving them a clear outline of what success looks like will reap its own rewards in terms of employee retention and morale. 


Two employees discuss a project together.

Upskilling and reskilling stories

Lots of things that look good on paper don’t live up to the hype in real life — employee development programs are certainly an exception. These examples from inside KSL demonstrate how upskilling and reskilling can benefit both your organization and its employees.

Spencer is a software engineer at KSL who spoke glowingly of his experience with an upskilling program. Several years ago, his department had the opportunity to take a multiday class on a new scripting language. 

“I’ve had to learn a variety of languages and frameworks as a software engineer, and that one definitely went more smoothly than all the rest,” he said. The reason? “Everybody was able to slow down, stop worrying about everyday work concerns and take a deep dive learning together. It was one of my favorite learning experiences at this job.” 

Kaylie, a creative coordinator, was happy in her role as an executive assistant when the COVID-19 pandemic led the company to reskill her position. As the organization shifted to a remote model, the need for full-time assistants all but vanished. Kaylie was moved into her current role and reskilled as needed. She said it was one of the best things that’s happened to her in seven years with the organization. 

“It made me feel more valued than ever before, because I felt like I had people looking out for my best interests,” she reflected. “They wanted to keep me employed, and it made me feel that I bring value to the company and my role.”

Ashley, another executive assistant at KSL, had a similar experience at the same time. Part of her role as assistant to the chief marketing officer  was organizing events for KSL Marketplace employees. When the pandemic hit, she was moved to a full-time events coordinator role, helping maintain employee morale with online events. She’s still in the same role four years later, putting together awesome monthly events sans-screen. 

“I was extremely grateful they found another position that fit my skill set,” Ashley said. “Knowing they could have let me go but chose to keep me made me feel valued for sure.”

Skills training programs are a win-win for both employees and employers. By implementing upskilling and reskilling programs at your company today, you can set yourself up with happier employees and a more adaptable talent pool tomorrow. For more advice on best business, hiring and employee retention strategies, check out the KSL Jobs resource center.