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A Workplace Trend: Retraining from Within

As the U.S. economy returns to normal, businesses turn to upskilling their workforce to navigate the challenges of the post-COVID world.

Companies are facing modern business challenges spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic as organizations are forced to adapt to an accelerated shift to e-commerce. The surging demand for digital services has led to a shortage of available computer analysts and engineers, driving companies to pursue an alternative option to hiring new employees: retraining existing staff.

Retailers Respond to Digital Demands

The retail industry has seen artificial intelligence play an immense role as consumers increasingly prefer to shop online. However, a tight labor market has made it more difficult for retail chains to attract hourly workers with specialized digital skills. According to The Wall Street Journal, Levi’s recently rolled out a new machine learning bootcamp designed to teach coding and statistical analysis to employees. The program aims to create new career growth opportunities from within the company, a pivotal component at a time when retailers are challenged with filling vacant positions with skilled professionals.

Levi’s is not alone in retraining its workforce to adapt to post-pandemic trends. Denver-based convenience store chain Choice Market is also adapting to the surge in digital demand upskilling from within the organization. The store chain recently launched checkout-free shopping in April, allowing shoppers to purchase items without going to a cashier. Employees in all locations were retrained on data entry and analysis. Some staffers who were cashiers are now e-commerce analysts in charge of tracking product sales and running the company’s digital platforms for third-party delivery systems.

Despite closing the majority of its retail locations during the pandemic, Verizon Communications launched a robust retraining program aimed to meet customer needs and safeguard employee well-being. Rather than layoff its employees, the company retrained nearly 20,000 workers for other roles within the organization that focused on customer service, sales, and navigating digital platforms. Verizon plans to retrain 100,000 more of its staff to prepare for the release of its 5G product.

Socially and Financially Responsible

Retraining current employees is not only socially responsible and pragmatic, but also has significant cost advantages over hiring new talent. According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., laying off and rehiring can cost up to three times more than retraining an existing employee. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of utilizing employee benefits for workforce recruitment and retainment. Look for more companies to include comprehensive training programs in their benefits packages as industries progress toward a more digital-based service model. As more of the U.S. economy returns to normal, it is likely more businesses will turn to upskilling their workforce to navigate the new challenges and demands of the post-pandemic world.

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