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Small business fleet management: Empower employees through reskilling and upskilling

May 14, 2024

As a small business, one aspect of your remit is staying competitive in your respective industry. While large companies often have dedicated resources for employee development, small businesses may not be able to prioritize training due to limited budgets and time constraints. However, empowering employees through reskilling and upskilling can be a fruitful practice for small businesses.

Understanding reskilling and upskilling

Reskilling and upskilling are vital parts of talent development, aimed at enhancing the capabilities of employees. Reskilling involves teaching employees new skills that are different from their current roles. For instance, reskilling could include training fleet managers in data analytics to optimize route planning and fuel efficiency or training new drivers on how to use fleet cards.

Upskilling, on the other hand, focuses on improving existing skills to meet evolving business needs. For example, upskilling drivers to handle advanced telematics systems for real-time vehicle monitoring and optimization can enhance operational efficiency.

Both approaches are important for adapting to industry changes such as emerging technologies, trends, and changing customer preferences.

Why is employee development important for small businesses?

In a small business setting, the impact of employee development initiatives can be especially strong. Unlike in larger companies where employees may have more specialized roles, small business employees often wear multiple hats and perform many different tasks. Reskilling and upskilling enables your staff to tackle new challenges, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute more effectively to the company’s success. These practices also keep employees engaged, providing opportunities for growth and development.

Create a culture of continuous learning

Creating a culture of continuous learning will help empower your employees. This is done by creating an environment where learning and development are valued and encouraged at all levels of the organization. Leaders leading by example, demonstrate their commitment to personal growth and professional development.

Identify skill gaps with your employees

To introduce reskilling and upskilling programs, small businesses can start by identifying the skill gaps within their workforce. This can be done through various methods including:

  • Employee assessments
  • Performance reviews
  • Feedback gathering
  • Talking to experts

By understanding where improvements can be made, small business owners can tailor their training to address their employees’ specific needs and areas for growth.

Take advantage of technology and online learning platforms

Today, many tools for learning new skills can be found online where there’s a wide range of educational solutions with flexible and cost-effective options. Depending on your needs, these programs can deliver content to your employees, regardless of their location or schedule. From webinars and virtual workshops to interactive learning and e-courses, the possibilities for reskilling and upskilling are vast.

Provide hands-on learning and mentorship

While online learning has its advantages, interactive, hands-on training and mentorship can be more effective and engaging for your employees. Small business employees can leverage expertise across the team and learn from one another. By pairing new employees with experienced ones, guidance, support and real-world knowledge specific to the business are communicated. Additionally, cross-training programs and job rotations help employees gain new perspectives and skills that will allow them to provide a back-up when colleagues are out of the office. 

Development starts at the top

Effective leadership is one of the most important factors driving organizational growth and employee motivation. Small business owners should invest in themselves, developing their leadership and managerial skills, and ensuring they can continue to support their team at a high level. Leadership development can include communication skills, decision-making skills, conflict resolution, and other essential business skills. 

How to measure success and the return on investment (ROI) of reskilling and upskilling initiatives

To justify the investment in reskilling and upskilling initiatives small business owners should establish clear metrics to measure success. These can include: 

  • Employee performance
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Engagement
  • Retention rate
  • Increased revenue
  • Customer satisfaction

Ultimately, improvements in operational metrics such as reduced maintenance costs and increased customer satisfaction serve as tangible indicators of the return on investment (ROI) in employee development efforts.

Overcoming limited resources and employee pushback

While there are many benefits to reskilling and upskilling, small businesses may face challenges in implementing training programs due to limited resources, time constraints, and resistance to change.

There are many creative ways to invest in employee development without breaking the bank. Here are some strategies for overcoming those challenges, especially with limited resources. 

  • Prioritize and focus: When resources are scarce, it becomes important to prioritize areas of training that align closely with the businesses’ strategic objectives. Focus on skills that are critical for the company’s growth and success. By concentrating your efforts where they will have the most significant impact, small businesses can maximize resource effectiveness.
  • Use available free resources: Fortunately, there are many low-cost or free training solutions available online, on sites such as YouTube, Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy. These resources offer a library of courses, tips, and tricks of the trade encompassing a wide range of topics and self-paced learning. 
  • Leverage your existing employees: Every employee brings his or her own experiences, skills, and knowledge to the business. Identify the existing expertise and encourage your team to share their knowledge with each other. This can also help strengthen the bonds and camaraderie within the business.

Empowering employees through reskilling and upskilling will help small businesses with a fleet of commercial vehicles stay competitive and adapt more easily to industry changes as they arise. By embracing continuous learning, leveraging technology, and investing in leadership development, small businesses can unlock full workforce potential and drive sustainable growth for their business.

Learn more on how to better manage your small business:

WEX speaks the language of small business operators. Whether you’re looking to modernize your insight and reporting efforts, save on fuel costs or take advantage of the latest GPS tracking technologies, WEX offers solutions to simplify the business of running a business. To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page

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