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4 Ways to Close the Skills Gap in Your Organization

Skills Gap
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Hiring the “right” person for the job has become a time-consuming and often fruitless endeavor. A Goldman Sachs study found that two-thirds of job listings were posted in the last 90 days. But even with more listings than before the pandemic, monthly vacancies filled were at an all-time low in March of 2022. Even with a relaxed set of requirements, finding people with needed skills is like looking for just the right Christmas tree: no one candidate has everything. If they do, chances are you will lose your potential hire to a better offer. Rather than lament the loss, change tactics. Here are some tips on how.

Identify Your Skills Gaps

Rather than listing out what you might be missing like a grocery list, use self-assessment surveys and customer feedback to find skills gaps. Map your business goals to skills, objectives, and the skills associated with each position across teams, and the organization as a whole. Make sure the metrics you choose are clear and consistent. Otherwise, your gap data will not truly represent deficiencies.

Upskill Your Current Employees

Once you have a clear list of the skills you know you need to strengthen, take a look at what you already have available in your employee pool rather than hiring in. This is why 46% of respondents to a survey conducted by talent management experts LHH plan to close their skills gap by training high potential existing employees. Upskilling existing employees saves time in that recruiting isn’t necessary. Offering training to employees lets them know that the organization values their presence and is willing to invest in the people that work there. Hiring and onboarding new people is expensive, and they may not work out. Existing employees have already proven that they want to be there, and upskilling increases their reason to stay.

Adjust Your Recruitment Strategy

Rather than looking at degrees, current employment, and experience, look at the skills a candidate has to offer your company. Skills-based evaluation is becoming the most prominent recruitment tool in the hiring toolbox. According to the CEO of LinkedIn in an article from the Harvard Business Review, businesses are listing skills and responsibilities instead of qualifications and requirements. This approach deepens the talent pool and extends corporate resilience. If a key person does leave, there is always someone able to step up.

Monitor Their Progress

Do you already have a learning program with a tailored curriculum for employees? If so, monitor which courses are most popular and the skills evaluations at the end. Compared to the previous evaluation period, your skills gaps should be decreasing. If they aren’t at a level you believe they should be, consider partnering with an outside learning and development company to design a better program that engages your workforce around the competencies you want to cultivate. The metrics provided by a learning and development system gives management at all levels a window into the information needed to keep your skills improvement program on track. According to a study quoted on Protocal, measuring employee impacts on retention, morale, and productivity, gives you a long-term way to track the return on investment of your program. The study found that by providing learning and development programs, at the end of three years there was a 7.46 x ROI.

Training and education programs are like gardens. As conditions change with the seasons, trimming, fertilizing, and guiding growth are necessary to increase productivity. Hiring based on skills increases the likelihood of finding a hire that adds exactly what you are looking for in a candidate. Between the two, keeping skills and competencies at the forefront and providing ways to keep employees engaged and interested creates an environment that not only boosts morale and increases employee retention, but encourages others to join and grow.

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