How To Tackle Skills Gaps In The Workplace

Finding the right candidates for your open positions is hard enough, given current labour conditions. The challenge becomes more pressing when you hire a talented individual, only to find out they lack some mission-critical skills needed for continued productivity.

That’s where the notorious “skills gap” comes into play.

The term is pretty much self-explanatory. When workers lack the relevant skills, businesses face some serious problems. According to the Fellow Blog, a skills gap “is often signaled by a productivity loss, a loss in morale, higher turnover rates, a lack of problem-solving abilities, and a loss of profits, which can be very costly.”

How can employers tackle this issue? Keep these tips in mind:

Understand why this problem exists.

Among the many root causes for employee skills gaps is the dizzying speed by which technology changes in the business world. Employees who once were masters of their technology realm constantly face new tech services and upgrades but aren’t necessarily equipped to leverage this technology to the full extent.

Lack of job training and development is another reason for a skills gap. In fact, virtually no job candidate comes to the table with all the skills needed to get a job done. An investment in training new and current employees is well worth a company’s ROI, and worthy of its time and resources.

Conduct a skills gap analysis.

A skills gap analysis represents the first step in addressing this workplace issue. As Recruitee notes, this analysis “is a survey of what skills an individual or company currently possess and those that they will need in the future” to meet company objectives. It’s useful to regard this analysis “as a planning tool to ensure your team is equipped to meet the demands of your industry, customers, and strategic path.”

Motley Fool offers this step-by-step approach to a skills gap analysis.

Match employees with the appropriate tasks.

You can’t expect a reception desk employee to come to the job with supplemental skills in marketing, finance, and so on. But when a worker and task are a good match, chances are you’ll get the results you’re looking for.

Also, cross-functional opportunities are a way to boost individual skills while also strengthening an entire team’s knowledge and experience. Look for such opportunities as new initiatives arise and seek out employees who want to grow in their jobs.

Recruit for soft skills.

Mastery in a particular area of business is always a good thing. On the other hand, many successful new hires come armed with soft skills that make their contributions especially invaluable. Such intangible skills can include empathy with customers, loyalty to the company, high-quality customer service abilities, and a readiness to learn. As such, your recruiting efforts should keep these traits in mind.

People who possess key soft skills are often well-placed to overcome any skills gaps in their job.

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Craft a job description that includes key skills.

A generic job description probably won’t attract job candidates with the ability to quickly overcome any skills gaps on the job. So when placing a job posting, be very clear about the role of relevant skills in the open position. For example, if customer service is a key component of your organisation, outline the appropriate skills needed in the job description and be as thorough as possible.

During a job interview, give candidates “an opportunity to explain why they would be the best fit for your job opening,” says the Society for Human Resource Management. Invite them to include “any special training you have had, such as on-the-job, college, military, seminars, reading and related work experience.” When a prospective employee is comfortable talking about their range of job skills, you may have a clearer grasp of their potential for productivity in your workplace.

Overcoming the dreaded skills gap can result in greater productivity, higher employee morale, and the kind of long-term retention every business dreams about.

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