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Why You Should Upskill (Efficiently) in Times of Scarcity

Chelsea Iversen Apr. 16, 2020

The IMF is predicting an international economic downturn on par with the Great Depression.

While it’s not constructive to be alarmist, it is constructive to be prepared. To survive (and, in some cases, thrive) after the economy dips and eventually rebounds, businesses need to understand the difference between quick-fix solutions and solutions that will actually improve business performance in the longer-term.

For that reason, now is the time to...

Invest in efficient business technology

Recession research from Harvard Business Review, Bain, and McKinsey have all found the same thing: Some businesses emerged out of recessions performing 10 percent better in sales and revenue than their competitors, while other businesses floundered. There were a few factors that these high-performing businesses had in common, but the overall quality they shared was agility and the flexibility to manage change. There are a number of specific ways businesses have been able to achieve that, including decision-making, decentralization, creative labor solutions, and more.

Investing in technology is one of the best agile practices that HBR says pays off. In fact, a recent study at the University of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School found this: Companies that invested in technology during the economic downturn between 2007 and 2009 actually saw a 6.23% compound gain in ROI at the other end of the recession.

This strategy may be counterintuitive at first glance, but it’s logical. Companies that invest in increasing the efficiency of their business operations in times like these come out the other side with more efficient business operations.

Keep your team’s skills sharp

Gaps in skills on marketing teams may be more glaring now that businesses are turning their attention to tightening operations internally. When budgets are tight, getting the most value out of your upskilling program is essential. You can’t afford to waste valuable resources on inefficient learning programs.

Using assessments to gauge your team’s knowledge helps establish data-driven learning that gives upskilling some direction. Data-driven learning establishes learning paths so you can identify the particular skills your team members need in order to be effective at their jobs. It’s simple: Your team takes a skills assessment, and learning paths are suggested based on their results. With it, you — and they — get a starting point and some direction, whether they’re lacking an understanding of the digital media ecosystem, skills in data and analytics, or knowledge about campaign management.

Build the resources you already have

In times of hiring freezes and budget cuts, marketing departments need to focus on achieving their business goals by maximizing existing resources. Giving employees the opportunity to upskill affordably means two things. First, no one gets left out, so learning becomes a much broader-reaching investment. Traditional training can be expensive, with single courses sometimes costing thousands. There’s no room for upskilling at that magnitude — not now. Affordability means everyone in the organization can participate, making you stronger and more skilled overall. Second, affordable learning means you can efficiently fill in holes in skills and knowledge in order to achieve more with the team you have.

How do you upskill with the most efficiency? Utilizing reporting and data is one way. When you have visibility into where your team is lacking skills, who needs a boost and in which areas, and how your team is engaging with the learning material, you can be more effective.

Transparency into data like this gives marketing directors and CMOs the tools to make the most efficient talent decisions. With data, you can identify high-potential members of your team and see where you’re strong right now. You can also see where your weaknesses are so you can inject more knowledge right away.

ALEx offers assessments and reporting to deliver more efficient training (for much less).


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