“The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is to not train them and keep them.”

Zig Ziglar 


Urban myth has assigned this famous quote to many businesses over time. In one famous mythical case, a senior employee of a leading technology brand made the opposite, career-limiting statement: to not upskill workers as they would be a target for competitors!  

Of course, most businesses will train their workers, though, only in doing their ‘today’ jobs. 

This training can take many forms, from a deliberate development plan to ‘learning on the job’ (although 70:20:10 tells us that ‘learning on the job’ is only part of the training equation). 

However, the question is ‘upskilling your workforce’.

And is upskilling different to training? 

That all depends on the organisational intent.  

Using the LinkedIn definition:

upskilling is an employee undertaking learning to expand their existing skill set.

These additional skills enhance the worker’s performance in their current role, potentially advancing them along their career path.’ 

Here we see the clear mutual benefit.  

The company benefits from enhanced employee performance, and the employee benefits from an enhanced career path (impacting personal and commercial value, job security, and ongoing work purpose, just to name a few).  

In short, upskilling protects and builds organisational capability today, ensuring it is ready for the direction it wants to head tomorrow. 

Back to the original quote… 

Having a workforce not skilled to meet future business requirements is potentially catastrophic, as they are occupying seats where skilled workers need to be.   

A no-brainer, right? 🧠

Not for everyone, according to the PWC Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey (2022)👉of 52,000 employees, only 40% said their company is upskilling.  

Just as worrying from Harvard Business Review, 70% of employees report they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs.   

And all of this against a background of ‘92% of organisations struggling to fill roles’ (People Management, Remote survey). This same survey revealed a staggering 82% of organisations were hit by the ‘great resignation’.  

It comes as no surprise Grant Thornton reported that ‘with the great resignation comes a thriving recruitment sector’ as organisations struggling to fill roles are forced to explore the market to find ‘the finished article’.

Outsourcing recruitment of the finished article also brings with it the challenge of ‘cultural fit’.  

So now the race is on. 

To keep people and upskill them. 

Employee loyalty has much in common with customer loyalty: it is much cheaper to keep them than acquire them.

Except with customers, the focus is more on spending power, and less on their fit with your organisation.  

So, arguably, employee loyalty is even harder to achieve! 

The penny has therefore dropped for several organisations.  

Again, from the People Management Remote survey: ‘ 50% of companies are now offering training to upskill workers in light of current hiring challenges.

And 43% are open to negotiating training benefits as part of a retention and attraction strategy.’ 

Where are the biggest skills deficits?  

According to McKinsey data, ‘leadership and managing others’ remains a priority skills focus for business. 

This is supported by a report from CiPD that an essential factor in employee loyalty is ‘well-trained, competent managers equipped to onboard new employees into a supportive culture’. 

The world of work has changed, and it’s good news for organisations focusing on building ‘depth in the squad’.  

City & Guilds tell us that: 

✔️ 80% of workers are open to new roles 

✔️ 70% of workers would train for another position, rather than leave 

✔️ 60% would not apply for a new role if it didn’t offer upskilling opportunities 

✔️ 55% would like to try different roles in their company. 

So, should you invest in upskilling your workforce? 


What if they leave and take those skills with them?  

And what if they stay and don’t support the company’s growth, or, even worst, stop the company from growing?  

Engaged, happy employees who are given the opportunity to grow, thrive and learn, in a safe and healthy environment, won’t leave.  

They’ll stay and they’ll help your business succeed. 


The Motivation Agency has been supporting businesses in their employee engagement journey since 2006.

Our bespoke solutions are tailored to your needs and designed to help you achieve your goals. You can find out more about our services here.  

Dominic Doe

Dominic Doe

Learning and Development Director

Dominic has worked closely with several big brands across different industries during his 20-year L&D career. 

From the automotive sector as Head of Dealer Sales Academy at MG Rover, then into a consultancy role leading learning programmes for the Volkswagen Academy and Toyota Europe before working extensively with the NHS and Shell amongst other major brands.