For many of us, it’s been a long time since we were students in a school classroom. While we may have known how to pass exams and complete assignments back then, could most of us complete a senior high school physics or geography exam now? Probably not. Why? Because, unless these skills were directly related to our careers, we haven’t practised them since.
That’s not to say we should all go back and study everything we learned in high school just to keep those skills current (even if we don’t need them). However, the concept can be applied to workplace skills as well. For example, you may have completed a course on ‘search engine optimisation’ or ‘how to best handle workplace conflict’ a couple of years ago. But that doesn’t mean you still have the most up to date knowledge today.
You may be wondering, why does that matter? Does it make that much of a difference to keep up to date with skills we may already be familiar with? Absolutely. Let’s look at some of the benefits of keeping your workplace skills up to date, as well as how workplaces can best facilitate this.
We’ve all had times at work where we think, “if I just had more time, I’d be able to...”. While we can’t magically add more hours to the day, keeping your workplace skills up to date is an effective way to make it seem like you suddenly have more time than you did before.
When you know something like the back of your hand, it’s easier to focus on getting it done without distraction, meaning you can speed up the process overall. This knowledge leaves more time in the day for other tasks that may have fallen by the wayside during a particularly busy week. You could even use this time to take advantage of learning and development tools at your workplace and learn something new.
More broadly speaking, making the best use of your time is a highly valuable skill. When you can learn to make the best use of your time at work, it becomes easier to prioritise - even during busy times for the business - without becoming too overwhelmed.
Gaining confidence in the workplace is something just about all of us desire, and it’s certainly easier said than done. However, maintaining up to date knowledge could be the ticket to feeling more confident in the workplace. When you know you have the most up to date knowledge, it is easier to be assured that you can complete a wider range of tasks without having to reach out for additional assistance.
Along the same lines, having increased confidence in your ability to complete more tasks demonstrates a level of flexibility, thereby making you even more of an asset to the company.
It may seem daunting to take this approach at first, but one sure-fire way to grow your confidence is to update the skills you feel are your weakest. If you find yourself getting nervous when someone asks you to do a particular task or avoid doing a specific thing at all costs, it may be time to face the beast head-on and participate in workplace learning that focuses on that very skill.
We’re all familiar with the excited and inquisitive whispers that fill an office when there’s word a promotion could be on offer. Of course, most people will hope they’re chosen, but taking the practical step of consistently upgrading and maintaining your workplace skills may be what makes you stand out among the other candidates.
Some questions managers may ask themselves that can help you become a favourable candidate include: does the candidate possess up-to-date industry knowledge? Or, has the candidate got any additional helpful skills that other candidates do not?
If you can anticipate these questions ahead of time, you’re putting yourself in an extremely favourable position and doing something that others in your workplace may not have even considered.
Aside from the actual skills that you gain and improve on, keeping your workplace skills up to date shows managers that you regularly strive to improve outside of what is expected of you. This drive and desire to learn is very impressive when considering someone for a promotion.
Unsure if you want a promotion that’s on offer, or uncertain if you even want to stay in the same field you’re currently in? Keeping your workplace skills up to date can still be very beneficial. You just need to ask yourself different questions.
First, think about your dream role. What does a day in the life of that dream role look like? What skills do people you know that are already in that role possess? It’s also worth searching through job ads online for your dream role. Not necessarily to apply at that moment, but to see what skills they’re seeking. That way, you know which specific skills you need to gain or improve on.
Keen to learn more about how you can keep your workplace skills up to date? Want to know which skills are the ones to watch?