Prepare your team for digital transformation with upskilling

October 21, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Digital transformation projects are commonplace at many business functions in multinational companies today- sometimes they are a direct response to a pressing need for advanced and flexible technology, other times it is simply a case of putting into action of project that has been on a to do list for a long time .

Like all projects, resources and budget will dictate how and when it gets done and to what degree it is successful. Digital transformation projects sometimes tend to move forward without due consideration to the full implications of the end result. Not enough companies are prioritizing the skill levels of their staff and ensuring that they are fully prepared to operate and thrive in this newly digital department that is about to be prepared for them.

In this article, we will examine what needs to happen in order for a team of professionals to be upskilled and ready to take advantage of next generation digital technology.

The Covid-19 factor

Right now, the Covid-19 crisis has created a need for businesses everywhere to adapt and focus on technology as the main business driver for critical functions to help manage processes in a better way,  and in a working environment that is focused on remote service delivery.

Remote working skills and technology are being depended on like never before due to a global necessity, so an urgent need has arisen to fast track some digital transformation projects in order to supply and upskill professionals with the digital tools they need to do their jobs in a remote environment.

Upskilling teams and implementing training programs so professionals can learn new skill sets is becoming a priority at companies where remote working was never previously the norm. A generation of workers are being asked to do something they have never done before on a consistent basis due to a global pandemic- significant upskilling is required for business continuity purposes. It remains to be seen if this upskilling is a temporary response to COVID-19 or a genuine shift in thinking towards what is likely to be the future of work i.e. the remote delivery of essential business services.

Digital transformation for progression

Outside of COVID-19, a general need for progression when it comes to technology and digital innovation is fueling the need for digital transformation projects at various different business units. Business critical units like global payroll, IT and HR are being considered as obvious candidates for a transformation project. Legacy technology and dated processes may not be resulting in the kind of optimum gains and quality productivity that business leaders expect to see in their key departments.

This results in a go ahead in terms of investment and resources for a digital transformation project- the goal of this project will be to better enable people and processes within the department to deliver more services, in a more streamlined manner. Speed, efficiency and productivity will be the sought-after results. It is crucial that employee skill levels are not forgotten in this rush for progressive technology. After this technology is in place, the employees are the ones tasked with using it on a daily basis and maximizing its use. They need to be prepared in advance with a clear understanding of what is coming down the line, and an upskilling plan must be in place to train and upskill all of them so that they can hit the ground running with this new digital technology when it arrives.

Some of these new technologies require professionals to develop new skills to handle things like automation and artificial intelligence. These new technologies represent the future and significant progress is being made in terms of digital transformation at multinational companies in these areas- digital skills will be required to ensure this progress continues.

Avoid a skills gap

In a recent study by IBM, data suggests that up to 120 million workers will need to improve their digital skills or in the next three years.

You want to avoid a scenario in which a lot of time and money is invested in innovative technology, only to find that the professionals tasked with using it have not been trained to a sufficient level to be fully comfortable with the new technology. Bad planning and lack of attention could see such a scenario develop- you would think that such a digital skills oversight is unlikely, but it is not uncommon for project leaders to simply underestimate the level of time it takes for an individual to become comfortable with something new. It is important to bear in mind, that many professionals in an organization, may have been using a particular piece of software or following a specific workflow process for over a decade. New skills are needed to handle new technologies.

If they are asked or forced to transition very quickly over to modern digital tools that they have not been adequately trained on, it is not hard to see why this would result in a clear skills gap. This would represent a case of too much focus on the technology and the future and not enough attention on the reskilling of professionals in the here and now. It is important to avoid this damaging misstep and include comprehensive digital skills training and full attention to people during the process of delivering the project. Digital technologies are likely to be the future of work, so global employers have a responsibility to ensure any skill sets deployed here are an appropriate match for the new technologies.

How to upskill a team

Upskilling a team needs to be prioritized and considered a significant part of a digital transformation project. It would not be wise to focus on the technology and then worry about the training later. Including professionals in the process right from the start is good practice. Personal attention and continued training and development will be needed to ensure they are ready to work with the new digital tools.

    • Identify skills gaps and what level of training is required. Assign a level of comfort and competency to each candidate being trained and work from there.
    • Ensure that the training programs are continuous and ongoing and carried out at a pace that is most suited to the trainee’s learning style. Take into account the employee’s age, existing skills, current job and career path.
    • Use variety: videos, workshops, webinars, in-house and online content such as podcasts
    • Work to develop a culture where upskilling is the norm
    • Mobile: Help employees to learn at their own pace, they should also be allowed to learn in their preferred environment. Some might want to access learning opportunities from home, on-demand on their preferred device.
    • Consider gamification: there is evidence to suggest that training, which is interactive, competitive, and practical can deliver positive results.
    • Monitor results: This is as much about getting valuable feedback around the employee experience as it is about monitoring their new skills progression.

The benefits of upskilling in the digital era

First and foremost, properly trained and upskilled professionals will be in a strong position to get the most out of any new technology introduced as part of a digital transformation project.  Also, a range of other benefits can come to light when companies take the time to invest in their professionals.

Qualified candidates

Digital training and upskilling immediately create qualified candidates who are comfortable with the technology multinationals wish to use in this digital era. Hiring managers often bemoan the lack of qualified staff available to come in and do a job - if you introduce an initiative that upskills existing staff, then you have a very solid solution to this problem.

Cost effective

It is far more cost-effective to train existing employees in the required technical skills than to lay off staff and go down the long and expensive road of hiring and onboarding new talent.

Employee engagement

Employees are often concerned that their skills are becoming obsolete. They also worry about their ability to carry out their duties effectively during remote working measures. Any upskilling program will help them feel more comfortable with their skill levels and more confident in their ability to deliver on their obligations. This will result in better engagement and morale.

Productivity & revenue

A digital skills gap can block a digital transformation, impact productivity levels and ultimately bottom-line revenue. Productivity issues and staff turnover cause revenue loss and this can be avoided by prioritizing digital skills training.

A digital transformation is something that can really drive productivity and progression within a business-critical department. But it is crucial that the professionals working in this department are equipped with the necessary skill sets that align to this digital transformation. When you have skilled staff working in tandem with innovative digital tools, this forms the foundation for a genuine transformation in process, productivity and results.


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Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest