Making The Most Of Downtimes To Upskill Your Workforce

Right now, many SME businesses are suffering a downturn in trade, and could be finding employee workloads are lighter than is ideal. For those businesses in some form of hibernation, why not use this downtime to upskill your people? 

With growth being the focus of most companies, they have generally preferred employees' prioritise their time performing their prescribed tasks over the pursuit of learning or self-development. But allowing your people to spend time developing the extra skills can achieve an ROI. 

Three reasons why you should actively encourage and facilitate upskilling for your people in the current climate:

Man concentrating in work from home space


Providing the opportunityfor self-development shows your people that you care about and value them, and that you are invested in them as an important part of your business. More than that, many people seek external opportunities when they are no longer challenged in their current role. Stay ahead of their career progression by offering them opportunities for growth before they get itchy feet.


Allowing time to improve their skill-set, whether for their current role or cross-skilling in another area will ultimately improve their performance and their value to the company.


As part of their duty of care, Australian employers have a legal and moral obligation to ensure their staff’s well-being. Providing personal growth opportunities, aspirations and brightness of future can contribute to feelings of increased well-being as well as general job satisfaction, especially in times of uncertainty.

  • Any skills or knowledge that will enhance their capability in their current role. Even if it does not directly relate to their specific duties, having a broader understanding of the business principles behind what they do will still improve their performance and their long term value to the business, as well as allow for smoother transition when promoting or cross-skilling between departments.
  • Leadership skills are valuable for employees at all levels, not just your management team, but especially those identified as the future leaders within your company.  Even those in entry level positions may benefit from a greater understanding of, and better quality interactions with senior personnel, and a brightness of future.
  • Developing emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of the most rewarding skills for any human, and is just as important in the workplace.  Greater EQ can improve your team’s communication, collaborations and relationships (both work and home), making your workplace environment more positive and productive.

Whilst it is not always easy to inspire employees to complete self-directed learning, allowing them dedicated time to complete approved courses and checking in with employees' progress on a regular basis can help with accountability and ensuring your company’s ROI if you are funding the program.

With online learning having been widely adopted in post-COVID Work-and-Learn-at-Home set ups, there is a myriad of learning platforms to choose from. Flight Centre Travel Group, for example, have partnered with Torrens University to offer all our people a variety of free courses, on soft skills such as leadership, culture, and emotional intelligence, as well as more technical skills like project management and social media marketing.  

Most state governments have collaborated with local learning institutions to provide free learning and upskilling as part of their employment support for the COVID economic crisis, but it’s worth investigating the best courses available to suit your industry so that you recommend specific and appropriate courses for your own people. 

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