6 ways upskilling can improve staff retention
  1. Blog
  2. HR Strategy and Culture
  3. 6 ways upskilling can improve staff retention

When thinking about how to retain employees, it’s easy to see improved pay and conditions as the answer. However, this approach often has a limited shelf life, as employees quickly get used to receiving a new salary or benefit. It’s also not always affordable for small businesses to increase benefits in this way. That’s where upskilling comes in.

Upskilling employees can be an extremely valuable way for small businesses to achieve this. And, contrary to some opinion, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Whilst training can be very useful at times (but sometimes also costly), there are other options available which are often directly aimed at helping small businesses, such as mentoring, project work, funded learning opportunities, and apprenticeships. These can really make a difference to your people and your business.

Every business owner knows that keeping up with an ever-changing business environment can mean that staff need to develop new skills through the course of their employment, particularly in a digital age where the pandemic has hugely increased the speed of digitisation in some areas.

You may also be aware that upskilling your staff can increase efficiency, productivity and profitability.  An added bonus is that it can also help you to retain your staff, reducing the need to recruit and preventing skills drain from your business.

Here are six ways that upskilling can help you to retain your valuable people, saving you time and money as you grow your small business:

Personal Development

A new study by online training platform GoodHabitz shows that personal development is important to most people, so if you can maintain a cycle of continuous personal development for your staff, they are less likely to feel the need to seek employment elsewhere.

People who know that their employer is helping them to improve their skills, abilities, knowledge and prospects will generally be more engaged in their work and delivering a higher standard of performance.

Feeling valued

We all want to feel valued, so it’s no surprise that your people will want to feel appreciated by you.  If your people feel that you care about their development and progression, they’re more likely develop loyalty towards you and, subsequently, be more committed and less inclined to move on.

Improved Morale 

We all started somewhere in our careers and having access to regular training – formal or informal – can help us all increase our self-esteem and productivity. Also, by learning new skills regularly, your people will be excited about testing them out in new ways of working, which is important for small businesses as they grow.

Overall, this can prevent employees becoming stale in their jobs and will also lead to improved morale.


In the ever-changing world of work, it’s important for employees to feel that their skills are relevant, and they aren’t restricted in terms of what they could do.  People like to feel that they always have options and upskilling gives them this through increasing their employability.

Some would suggest that this may lead to them leaving, but they are more likely to stay with an employer that will give them opportunities to grow and develop, than one who doesn’t and is willing to let their skills to become out-dated and redundant. 

Brand reputation

For all the reasons above, it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that people would like to work at a company that will invest in their career development. Upskilling is vital, not only for overall employee satisfaction, but for improving your reputation as an employer by showing that staff can build their skills for the future.

Happy employees are a great advertisement for your business and are more likely to be brand ambassadors by telling their networks, friends, family, acquaintances about the positive experiences of working for you.

Training Agreements

These suggestions are a great way to improve employee retention and keep your people happy. But there is often a cost associated with this, and with cost often comes some risk.

That’s why we’d recommend thinking about offering a training agreement, for the times when you may send your people on an expensive training course or programme.  It’s a less positive method of retention, but worth mentioning, nonetheless.

This is an agreement between yourself and the employee that they will pay back a proportion of the training costs should they leave within a set period after completing the training, finishing the programme, or gaining the qualification.

It’s a useful way of helping to ensure that you reap the rewards of paying for their development, and in many cases, it adds an extra reason for an employee to remain in your employment.


So, in summary, not only will upskilling help your business by making your employees more productive, engaged, capable and able to adapt to the changing world of work, it will also help you to keep them happy and therefore less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere. This means lower recruitment costs and less need to spend your time inducting and training-up new starters.

citrus HR can help you with any aspect of managing your people.  We’re the small business HR and Payroll experts.  We all know that employing people can be stressful and there’s lots of red tape and paperwork that’s hard to get right.  Our helpful experts and clever software can take that pain way.

If you need any advice about how to support and encourage upskilling in your small business get in touch on 0333 014 3888 or email info@citrushr.com for friendly, expert HR support.

The content of this blog is for general information only. Please don’t rely on it as legal or other professional advice as that is not what we intend. You can find more detail on this in our Terms of Website Use. If you require professional advice, please get in touch.

You might also want to read these articles

Get help with your HR

Take the stress out of HR with help from our friendly experts and easy to use HR software.
Find out more


  • Get free employment law alerts

    Keep up to date with employment law changes that might affect your business.