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The dichotomy of investing in training and upskilling staff


Having the right balance of skills within your organisation is key, but what happens when you have a skills shortage? How do you cover absences or manage increases in demand? How can you increase your capacity quickly and effectively to manage heavier workloads? Peaks and troughs in demand aren’t unusual, and the key to managing them is proactive planning. But when should you focus on training and upskilling your existing teams, and when should you outsource?

Training and upskilling – are multi-skilled employees the answer?

Looking internally for additional resources is a great place to start. Multi-skilled employees can step in to cover absences or manage fluctuations. Indeed, more and more organisations are moving away from the idea of having siloed teams in favour of having cross-functional teams.

Upskilling your existing teams allows you to maximise productivity and keep a fairer balance in workloads. There are other benefits to upskilling existing employees too.

Better customer experience

If a front-line employee can deal with multiple customer queries, it creates a more joined-up process for citizens. They no longer get passed from department to department, having to repeat information multiple times.


Plan for succession

Upskilling employees can also help with succession planning. Employees move on or retire, and if you don’t have anyone to replace them in-house, you need to recruit externally. Recruiting at a senior level can be costly and time-consuming. Promoting internally and then backfilling entry-level positions can be much easier and more cost-effective. If you are proactive in preparing your employees for progression, you’ll have people ready to step up when the time comes.


Retain top talent

Cross-skilling employees creates more variety in day-to-day roles, which can help increase engagement and motivation. A more engaged and motivated workforce is more productive.

And while not every employee will want to progress, many will. If there aren’t routes for progression, good employees start to feel demotivated and look for other jobs.

You’re more likely to retain your top talent if you invest in their training and development and give them opportunities to progress.

When training isn’t the answer – the benefits of outsourcing

While training and upskilling your teams can be very beneficial, it is costly and time-consuming, so it isn’t always practical. When demand is imminent or sudden, you need people who are already trained, and if you don’t have these people in-house, outsourcing is an excellent option. You can scale up and down as required, without the time and cost restraints of recruiting and training new employees or upskilling existing employees.


No compromised workloads

One of the disadvantages of training and upskilling your existing employees is it can compromise their existing workload. Training takes time. Whether it involves attending external courses or spending time learning from colleagues, that’s time the employee can no longer spend on their usual day-to-day tasks.

If there’s nobody to pick up the work, they can easily fall behind. You are essentially “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, as the saying goes. In contrast, when you outsource, you bring in people who are already trained, and you don’t have to compromise other areas of your organisation.

No conflicting tasks

Cross-skilled teams are fantastic when utilised effectively, but the process of redistributing resources quickly isn’t always seamless. An employee may have ongoing tasks they need to complete in one business area while also trying to support another. They may have conflicting tasks or priorities, which will split their focus.

On the other hand, outsourced teams are there to do a specific job and are completely focused on the task they have been appointed to do.


Cost-effective and flexible

Outsourcing is extremely cost-effective. You don’t need to invest in training or recruitment or pay high overtime rates. You simply bring in the resources you need as and when you need them. You can easily cover planned leave, manage peaks in demand or simply bring in support to clear a backlog. Once the demand has stabilised, you can scale back the outsourced work.

The best of both worlds

Meritec specialises in supporting local authorities and housing associations. One of the ways we do this is through our excellent Revenues and Benefits Processing solution. We provide highly skilled Revenues and Benefits professionals who can deliver immediate results on various software systems.

Delivered nationwide, our remote teams can help you reduce backlogs, cover leave and absence, cope with peaks in demand and ensure claimants are paid promptly. Our remote teams act as an extension of your team and can be scaled up and down in line with your needs. Meanwhile, we also offer a range of training and events on specialist Housing Benefit topics, including Universal Credit, Council Tax, and Welfare, so you can upskill your teams.

Our courses are well regarded for their detailed content and the clarity of their delivery. Courses can be tailored to include your own Council Tax Reduction Scheme rules, and we offer ongoing technical advice for email queries at no additional cost. Working with Meritec means you can give your internal teams the skills and knowledge they need and have access to our remote support teams when you need them. It’s the best of both worlds.

If you’d like to learn more about how our Revenues and Benefits Support can benefit you, get in touch.