Should businesses upskill their workforce before the need arises? Source: Shutterstock

Should businesses upskill their workforce before the need arises? Source: Shutterstock

Businesses need to invest in upskilling employees before the ‘need’ arises

US BANCORP (US Bank) just sent an email to its employees informing them that it’ll be shuttering several of its branches in the US and letting go of several members of staff — as part of its efforts to go digital.

The bank has about 3,000 branches in the US and expects to close down at least 10 percent of those.

“We are telling some employees that we have made the difficult decision to eliminate their jobs because customer behaviors have changed,” US Bancorp CEO Andrew Cecere said.

“Many of the bankers affected by this have been here for a long time, and they have all contributed to our success. They are valued, and we appreciate everything they have done. However, we have to think about what is right for the long-term health of our company, and for all of our employees and customers.”

All isn’t doom and gloom at the US Bank, however, as the CEO emphasized that it “will be creating new jobs and making a significant investment in training” to ensure they can better support customer needs.

Fortunately, US Bank is walking the talk when it comes to digital. Most recently, it launched an electronic bill presentment and settlement solution that digitizes the instrument, streamlines operations, reduces billing costs, and ultimately delivers an innovative payment experience.

“US Bank eBill Service helps billers get paid faster by giving customers simple, secure ways to make payments how, when, and where they want. Flexible and efficient digital payment options provide important working capital benefits for our clients,” said US Bank EVP and Head of Global Treasury Management Rich Erario.

Upskill employees or lose valuable ‘business experience’

The takeaway from the recent events at US Bank, however, for executive leaders around the world is this — businesses need to invest in upskilling employees before the ‘need’ arises.

US Bank isn’t doing anything wrong — they’ve made a tough decision keeping the long-term health of the company in mind.

However, it could be argued that a lot of those employees have a tremendous wealth of knowledge that the company will lose out on when they leave the company.

Speaking specifically about executives and staff in the branch offices, given their daily interaction with customers in different regions across the length and breadth of the country, US Bank could have tapped into extraordinary insights if they were able to re-train staff ahead of time and prepare them to support a new, digital-first business model.

In the future, when the company readies itself for the digital age and adapts its business model to suit the digital-first era, it’ll find new employees that fit into the ‘evolved’ business quite naturally. Yet, it’ll lose out on talent could have helped tweak that model to best suit the needs of existing customers.

Experience might seem hard to value, but as organizations accelerate their journey to digital, they find that there are phenomenal benefits to upskilling employees and tapping into them to navigate the evolving landscape and market than employing a new workforce to suit new-age business models and needs.