How can I use online training to reduce employee churn?

Susan Hurrell
Woman smiling slightly with brown, chin-length hair and glasses.
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Have you ever compared an old resume with your current one? Or done a thorough self-evaluation to review the inventory of your personal skills? Many of your skills and abilities will have been learned or honed in the workplace – even the transferable soft skills like “negotiating,” which can also apply to your personal life. Some real-life skills can also be relevant on the job, like being a competent typist – I mean a competent keyboarder. (Yes, I learned to type on an Olivetti manual typewriter, and I will always double-space my major punctuation.)

The half-life of skills is constantly shrinking. Workers need to learn new skills just to excel in their current roles, and they may need to learn additional skills to prepare for a lateral move or a promotion. Don’t you want to give your employees all the skills they need to keep their jobs, improve their performance, adapt to changes in the workplace, or prepare for a lateral or upward move? 

Let’s talk about training life after employee onboarding, focusing on when job descriptions or assigned roles change – upskilling and reskilling. These two types of training should be part of your strategic training plan, delivered as everboarding. What is everboarding? I’m glad you asked (follow the link!) But let’s dig into two types of online training that help your team and your company manage the inevitability of change.

Visual comparison of upskilling and reskilling. Upskilling depicts a character standing infront of a cog (gear) with an arrow in the middle, pointing up. Two arrows circle the cog in a continuous motion. Below the illustration reads: Upskilling: Adapting to changes in current role. Reskilling shows the same character in two different outfits. One version is of her dressed casually, the other is of her in a suit and tie, holding a briefcase. Between the two versions of the character is a dotted line with an arrow pointing from the casual version to the business suit version. There are a few cogs scattered around the arrow, as well as a few more arrows pointing toward the business suit version. Below the illustration reads: Reskilling: Learning new skills in preparation for a switch to a new job role.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling enables workers to adapt to changes in their job roles due to automation, the adoption of a new software package, or a shift in how things are done.

The benefits of upskilling

Upskilling refers to teaching your team new skills so they can adapt to changes in the roles that they are already in. These changes can be based on a variety of situations. Upskilling may be a response to the automation of some aspect of a worker’s role. Your team may have adopted a new tool or platform that requires existing employees to learn how to use it. You may have changed workflows, policies, or procedures due to changes in your business, or you may have added new product and service lines that need to be understood to be supported. 

Upskilling supports your employees as their work or work environment evolves. It gives you the opportunity to create greater engagement for these changes because your people will be confident in their ability to continue to do their best work for you – because you trained them.

What is reskilling? 

Reskilling involves teaching learners new skills to prepare them to take on new responsibilities or change roles within the organization. Sometimes, it becomes “remedial reskilling” – where a learner needs to revisit previous training to bring their job performance up to the expected level before being considered qualified to apply for advancement.

The benefits of reskilling

Reskilling offers workers the opportunity for personal and professional development by giving them the training they need to improve or advance their current skillset. It also helps them weather changes in the corporate structure if there are mergers, acquisitions, or other changes in hierarchy, roles, and responsibilities. 

Reskilling can also be a response to changes in an industry that result in some roles disappearing or changing dramatically; it can prepare workers for emerging roles or entirely new jobs. These employees can add the skills they will need to tackle challenging new projects or make career-enhancing moves to a new role or a higher level. 

How to deliver upskilling and reskilling online

Ongoing training, in the form of upskilling and reskilling, should be an integral part of your change management strategy and your learning and development roadmap. In too many companies (not yours, I’m sure), training stops at onboarding – even when it’s done online. And that’s a crying shame – because all those companies are missing the opportunity to maximize the investment they have already made in learning technology (their learning management system (LMS) or microlearning platform). 

Even worse is that they are not working to reduce employee churn! Did you know that job dissatisfaction due to lack of training is one of the leading causes of employee turnover? And employee turnover costs you money (See my article on “what is employee onboarding?” for all the deets on that!) 

Graph showing the percentage of annual salary to replace an employee. From left-to-right it reads: Entry-level employee, 30-50%; mid-level employee, 150%; and high-level employee, 400%. (Source:

You’ve likely already got the tools you need – now it’s just a question of building out the comprehensive eLearning modules to deliver upskilling and reskilling training. You may have to do a mini-training audit to determine what new training content you need to create, to ensure it closes the knowledge gaps that you will identify as part of your upskilling and reskilling strategy. 

Upskilling and reskilling are usually delivered using a microlearning platform. Daily drip training over time helps reinforce knowledge retention – especially important when it comes to reskilling – as your learners may need to “forget the old” to embrace and retain the new (information.)

Use reskilling and upskilling to reduce employee churn

Upskilling and reskilling keep workers’ skills current, anticipate future needs, and reflect an investment in employees that often pays off in longer employee retention, greater loyalty, and a more skilled, more invested workforce. Workers need to feel confident and display competence in order to have strong job satisfaction. Training helps with both. No one likes the feeling of not knowing what is expected of them or how to do what is required – especially if they’ve experienced some job change as a tenured employee. It’s no fun feeling like the new guy after five – ten – twenty years on the job – just because you’re thrust into a new role, been handed new responsibilities, or someone decided to buy a new piece of equipment you’ve never operated before. 

Two pie charts.The pie chart on the left has 48% of the circle filled in. It reads: 48% of workers in the U.S. would be willing to switch if offered skills training opportunities. The pie chart to the right has 65% of the pie filled. It reads: 65% of employees believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job. (Source:

Organizations with strong upskilling and reskilling programs often are the same organizations that have strong learning cultures. These companies often have the lowest employee turnover, better health and safety records, and higher job satisfaction ratings. Now that the world can see what your employees really think of their work world through social platforms like GlassDoor, Jobcase, and Vault (among many others), your ability to acquire new talent may well be affected by the published opinions of current and former team members. 

Help your team become the best they can be! Reskill your team members to help them become increasingly happy, productive, and promotable employees. Upskill as needed to support changes in the workplace and improve job satisfaction. Your employees will thank you for it. For more information on reskilling and upskilling, read our article on “how reskilling can help fill skill gaps in your employees,” or continue with our guide that introduces you to many other aspects of online training.

And with enough reskilling, perhaps someday, I’ll stop double-spacing after each sentence and looking for the carriage return handle on my typewriter – I mean keyboard.

Woman smiling slightly with brown, chin-length hair and glasses.
Susan Hurrell

With 15+ years of online marketing and online learning experience, Susan loves to share insights about where these two ROI-building practices can intersect and complement each other for your business or organization.

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