Sorry, We're Closed For Staff Training.....

Schools do it. Shops do it. Even educated tech companies do it now. 

Is there a case for completely shutting down for a period and upskilling your entire workforce instead?

The news that Slack, that annoying corporate instant messaging tool, has shut down for a week so that its employees could all take a course, has come as something of a surprise. After all, we're taught that the tech world is there to hustle, work long hours, read business books before bed and wake up at 4am to hustle all over again.

Wrong image? Potentially. 

This is, in fact, a Salesforce manoeuvre, and a regular one at that - but the decision came after bosses identified a skills gap, and the entire business has been put on hold for a week while they earn 'Ranger' status.

Shut down & learn

The reaction has been a mixture of alarm and praise - often in equal measures. And this perhaps only goes to illustrate how workplace learning has been shunted to one side during the continued crises of Brexit, COVID and Cost-Of-Living. Workforces have been trimmed, especially in tech, redundancies made, and teams are working overtime to compensate for their reduced size.

Little wonder, then, that it took an internal audit to identify that the entire Slack team had been, ahem, slacking on their internal training and had fallen behind on their Salesforce statuses. 

So could your business effectively shut itself down for a week?

Mind the gap

Increasingly, we're seeing employers woo high-value employees with packages that include a personal training budget, often in the thousands, alongside more traditional benefits such as enhanced pension contributions and extra annual leave. 

The fact that these training budgets are often combined with wellness funds is illustrative - that employers are starting to view education and wellness in the same light, and that view is only a reflection of what the market (i.e. their candidates) is asking for.

And in the UK, we have to admit that there is a significant skills gap that we are repeatedly trying to plug with skilled immigration. See, for instance, the significant numbers of overseas Masters graduates in marketing who are helping swell the numbers of young marketers looking for work. But look also at the health service's dependency on immigration.

Upskilling often comes secondary to fulfilling duties - to the long-term detriment of our organisations.

So what we're seeing is a recognition - in some circles - that not only do people want personal training budgets, they'll leave employers who don't provide them. 

Ultimately, the skills gap doesn't just hurt you in the short term, it harms you massively in the long term.

So kudos to Slack for recognising that they've been slacking on the training. Kudos to those employers who provide personal learning budgets. And kudos to the HR team that carried out the audit to find the problem in the first place...

Published on Oct 26, 2023 by Gareth Cartman