Upskilling: Empowering and Retaining Valued Healthcare Employees

Photo of nurses and patient

By Skill for Health | 18 March 2022

Modern medicine and healthcare practices are in a continuous state of development, as services improve alongside evidence-based medicine and cutting-edge technology. The healthcare sector does not exist within a bubble and is as subject to socioeconomic and political stressors as any other sector. Add that to the onslaught of an unprecedented pandemic and it’s clear that the health and care services need to be incredibly agile, responsive, and adaptive to every eventuality we can anticipate… and some that we cannot.

The healthcare sector has been under massive strain over the past two years and, even before the unexpected and tragic events of 2019 onwards, has been subject to a crisis of staffing – both in sheer numbers of vacancies and in real-term skill mix. This can be attributed to a number of social and economic factors, and there may not be an easy solution. However, creating a workforce of people who feel valued, competent, confident, and who are able to improve and utilise their knowledge and skills framework to face any adversity and meet any opportunity can help maintain effective service provision.

Workers who are offered regular training and an opportunity to expand their roles feel valued and more often than not relish the chance to learn and improve their practice. This is perhaps particularly valuable in healthcare where workers have a specific requirement, often enshrined in professional registration mandates, to continually update their practice. Beyond simply building on existing skills and meeting the changing needs of an existing workload, employers can make use of existing and emerging opportunities to upskill or reskill their employees to provide the best possible service, now and in the future. Access to education and career development opportunities are the backbone of an exemplary workforce.

Upskilling: for patient care

The goal of public and private sector healthcare is, at its heart, simple: to improve the health of the nation and to care for the sick. The fundamentals of good care are simple, but are also inextricably linked to a developing health and social care arena. At the very least, health and social care workers need to be up to date; this means having a structure already in place for ongoing mandatory training. By choosing an adaptive, bespoke, and accessible tailored approach to education offerings for workers, managers can create a culture of personal and professional development which reflects the needs of the service and service users. Offerings can go way beyond basic essentials and deliver future-proof skills training.

Upskilling: for employee satisfaction

Creating opportunities for career development, or simply enabling workers to excel within their current role, isn’t just essential for the running of an effective service, it’s a way of showing employees that they are valued. An organisation that seeks to support employees in developing their skills and knowledge shows that they believe in those employees. Investing in people means job satisfaction and – just as importantly – job security. Feeling valued is essential for employee satisfaction, and employee satisfaction breeds employee retention.

Upskilling: for an all-round improved service

Offering learning opportunities, the chance to excel within or without an individual’s role in the health and social care sector, creates effective, competent staff who can create a service which excels. Healthcare managers have a responsibility to continue to improve and refine their services as well as to meet new challenges with an adaptive attitude.

Using a learning platform that can be tailored to meet the needs of the service and which can be further refined to meet the needs of the individual is essential for creating an effective response to skills and personnel gaps.

Reskilling: the value of an existing workforce

One of the most important considerations in creating opportunities is the possibility of reskilling and sideways – or diagonal – movement across roles. This enables managers to fill gaps with experienced employees with appropriate skills and training. It also gives employees more opportunity to develop their careers and to progress with less constraints than more traditional linear career streams within the health and social care sector.

Empowering existing staff to remain in the organisation with the kind of opportunities they might seek elsewhere is good for employees, good for service provision, and good for retaining skills and staff. Training and taking on new starters uses significantly more time and money, leading to organisational waste, skills gaps and staffing shortages. Upskilling and reskilling a workforce is efficient, effective, and smart.

Skills for Health: agile learning for the healthcare workforce

Throughout the pandemic, the onus has been on staff at all levels to just keep the service effective. Meeting a fast-changing demand and simply continuing to provide essential services has been paramount through the pandemic. Services were required to be responsive and reactive rather than proactive. This does not mean that development and improvement has gone by the wayside, however; adversity breeds innovation, and we have learnt many lessons from the pandemic.

One of the great successes of response of the healthcare sector – indeed, the nation – to Covid has been that we have seen how we can respond to lockdown, isolation, hugely increased and altered demand and vastly restricted movement. We have continued to adapt to provide the best possible service within severely constrained circumstances. Existing eLearning offerings had to be expanded and deployed remotely on a huge scale, with accessibility for displaced staff paramount. Cutting down on extraneous administration needs is essential and easier than ever in an increasingly digitised workspace, and online learning management systems incorporate seamless compliance auditing.

LearnSpace, Skills for Health’s agile Learning Management System provides easy access to learning opportunities; accessibility tailored to the individual. Courses can be aligned to existing competencies and performance goals, tailored to the needs of the immediate service, the individual, and the organisation as a whole. A truly bespoke service which combines an individual approach with an option for collaborative learning and working, LearnSpace helps managers identify and target individual learning needs. All this with a view to upskilling and reskilling; we can empower a flexible, responsive and engaged workforce.

Contact us today if you have questions about our eLearning and learning management solutions or if you want to speak to our experts within Workforce Development, Leadership or Organisational Development.


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