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Should You Reskill Your Existing Employees or Onboard New Ones?


COVID-19 forced many business owners and stakeholders to make tough decisions to avoid the resulting adverse economic effects. Not only that, but a recent study by McKinsey estimates that more than half of all current job activities will be obsolete by 2055.

However, the study was also keen to point out that the future of work could happen 20 years earlier depending on various circumstances. COVID-19 has given analysts reasons to believe that the future of work is here, with new technologies altering work as we know it.

As a result, business owners have been forced to make quick and tough decisions regarding the future of the workforce. One such decision involves choosing between reskilling the current employees or onboarding new ones. Both these actions affect business differently. If you have been caught between these crossroads, it’s fair to say you’re not the only one.

According to a recent survey, about 42% of all companies stepped up their upskilling/ reskilling efforts shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak. Not only that, but reports suggest that 46% of companies have hired at least ten new employees since the outbreak of COVID-19.

The following article sheds light on the pros and cons of both onboarding and reskilling to help you make an informed decision.

Factors that Should Inform Your Decision to Onboard or Reskill

Companies have been forced to revaluate their workforce after the outbreak of COVID-19. This is because the disruption brought about rapid technological advancements, including machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence.

For such reasons, you must choose between reskilling or hiring new employees. Here are some factors that should help you make an informed decision.

  • Company’s Strategies and Objectives

The choice between reskilling should be based on your company’s long-and-short term objectives.

  • Cost

A quick cost-benefit analysis should influence the choice between reskilling or hiring. While doing so, remember that there are extra costs involved with ‘bad hires,’ just as well as training additional training costs. Evaluate your business finances and decide based on the option that won’t put a dent in your finances.

  • Flexibility

Flexibility in this context refers to your organization’s adaptability to change. You should consider onboarding if your current workforce finds it challenging to cope with the demands of the current economy. On the other hand, consider reskilling or upskilling training if your current workforce is versatile.

  • Time

Time is always of the essence and is a valuable asset during tough times. For this reason, you should only go with the option that will turn around your business woes into fortunes in the shortest time possible. Not only will this help stabilize your business, but it will stop competitors from gaining an edge over you.

  • Management Potential

The talent in your company must influence your choice to reskill or hire new employees. Does the current crop of employees have growth potential? Do the current employees have the skills necessary for company growth? Also, can they be groomed to take management roles in the near future?

Pros and Cons of Onboarding/ Hiring New Employees

Employee onboarding refers to the process of incorporating new hires into an organization. This includes equipping them with the skills and knowledge to become productive.

It doesn’t stop there, but this program is also responsible for making newly hired employees optimistic and motivated about their new role in the organization. Here are some of the pros and cons of onboarding.


  • Increased Productivity

If the onboarding process is effective, the new employees will add productivity to the respective departments. This process includes equipping the new employees with the necessary organizational skills, but it also helps them identify with the corporate culture. This allows them to fit in, motivating them to perform even better at their jobs.

  • Better Retention Rates

Recent surveys show that about 31% of newly hired employees leave their jobs within the first six months. The main reason for such alarming statistics involves poor onboarding practices.

If done correctly, onboarding can be a valuable tool in securing top talent for the foreseeable future. Glassdoor’s recent survey found that companies with good onboarding programs increased their retention rates by 82%.

  • Higher Employee Engagement Rates

Helping the new employees settle in is an excellent way of increasing their motivation. Everyone wants to feel good about their work and compensated the right way. Employee engagement refers to the extent to which employees love their jobs and are committed to the organization.

Onboarding helps your organization achieve higher employer engagement rates. In turn, this drives up the performance of the respective department.


  • Could Lead to Employee Dissatisfaction

Ineffective onboarding processes often lead to employee dissatisfaction. Remember, onboarding is the company’s platform to create both a first and last impression. According to a report, 40% of newly hired employees felt like their employer’s onboarding program was effective. The remaining percentage of employees are likely to be dissatisfied and leave within the first six months.

  • Most Organizations Find the Overall Process Costly

The overall onboarding process can be costly. According to a report published by LinkedIn, the average cost of onboarding employees in the United States is about $3,000. Not only that, but the overall program tends to be time-consuming

Pros and Cons of Reskilling

Reskilling is teaching new skills to employees to allow them to perform better in new roles or bridge a skill gap. Many companies, including Amazon, have invested millions into reskilling and upskilling programs to gain competitive advantages over the competition.

Here are some pros and cons of reskilling employees as a strategic response to dealing with a skill gap or COVID-19.


  • Increased Productivity

Reskilled or upskilled staff use the knowledge and skills recently acquired to improve their productivity and quality of work. Increased knowledge in technology or ways of production leads to better performance.

  • Improved Employee Retention

Reskilling training leads to employee engagement. Activities carried out here often involve teamwork which is excellent for building relationships. A happy team that gets along will lead to a positive work environment which is excellent for productivity.


  • It is Time Consuming

Training assumes different forms in employee development. However, this process might take a lot of time, depending on the employees and effect on work progress. For instance, training a full team of employees for an entire day means a full loss of business for that day. This could be costly for the organization both in a financial and productive sense.


The choice between reskilling and hiring will ultimately depend on your company’s situation. However, multiple surveys show that reskilling is the better option considering the growth of online platforms, freelancing platforms, and hiring freezes. Besides, hiring employees is far more expensive than upskilling training your employees.

With that said, a company often uses both options when it comes to workforce management. It is common to see a skill gap in the market when it comes to specific positions. As a result, there is a need to hire new employees for certain positions and reskill other employees for different positions.



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