Job vacancies in the U.S. rose to a record 11 million in October according to U.S. Labor Department statistics, which also showed a steady decline in both hiring activity and layoffs. Meanwhile, the number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs remained high.
This ongoing ‘Great Resignation’ crisis isn’t just bad news for organizations because of the disruption it causes them but also because of the skills gaps that it contributes to, the impact of which cannot be ignored — research has shown that as many as 375 million employees globally may have to change occupations during the next decade to meet their employers’ needs.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey on workforce needs, nine in ten executives say that their organizations are already facing problematic skills gaps (43 percent) or expect gaps to develop within the next five years (44 percent). In other words, 87 percent of organizations are either facing skills gaps now or expect to very soon. And while most of these respondents know that it’s a priority to address these gaps, few say that they know how to.
What is a Skills Gap?
As the pandemic has made clear, the future of work is changing.
As many jobs go remote, technology evolves, and some roles become automated or obsolete, there are just as many jobs and roles that are being created that call for new skills. To continue growing, organizations must be ready to address the inevitable skills gaps that will crop up with time.
A skills gap is defined as any situation where an organization’s current workforce skillset doesn’t align with the skills that they need to successfully do their jobs. In other words, it’s the shortfall between the skills needed to do a particular job and the skills that are available.
While many organizations think that it’s pure technology skills that they are mostly lacking, this isn’t necessarily the case; many organizations are lacking in non-specialist skills, too. The pandemic has only served to excel this trend as 78 percent of leaders now say that skill-building is crucial to their long-term growth compared with 59 percent before the pandemic.
Identifying Skills Gaps
While there are plenty of ways to identify skills gaps in your workforce, the best place to look is towards employee performance.
This involves gathering data that shows how your employees have been performing in their roles, whether they have been meeting their targets, whether they are producing work in line with organizational goals and expectations, and using it to deduce whether there are any problems that need addressing.
Looking at the wrong data can be problematic for employee training and development, though. For that reason, it’s best to focus your attention on relevant data gathering methodologies.
Examples of these might include employee assessments, performance benchmarks, 360-degree reviews, and KPIs. It’s beneficial to use more than one of these methodologies because these will provide multiple perspectives on the same issue and provide you with more insight into potential issues.
While KPIs are the best sources of information for identifying a skills gap — because they clearly illustrate whether an employee is struggling with their work — other methods such as employee assessments and reviews can be used with elements such as practical assessments, quizzes, activities, and feedback requests to unearth potential skills gaps.
Practical Tips for Closing Skills Gaps
With so many organizational leaders reporting or anticipating skills gaps, it’s important to know how to close them. To that end, we’ve put together a few practical tips for doing just that.
Know Why and Where Skills Gaps Exist
The saying goes that you can’t fix something that isn’t broken. Similarly, with skills gaps, awareness is the first step to taking action to solve them.
Organizational leaders need to identify the skills barriers that exist within their organization and the root causes of these barriers before they can take the positive action needed to rectify them. Almost half of all organizational leaders surveyed indicated that it’s cost that is the main reason while around 28 percent cited a lack of long-term strategy.
More often than not, it’s within technical areas where skills gaps tend to prop up. Organizational leaders should therefore consider working closely with digital teams — who are ironically the people tasked partly with driving the effective adoption and use of digital skills within an organization — to evaluate their firm’s technology stack and identify where gaps exist.
Understand Your Employees’ Capabilities
Over 50 percent of employees surveyed say that their employer doesn’t understand their capabilities. This inevitably leads to employers offering employees the wrong type of training which leads to employees being sort of equipped with skills that they simply won’t use and can cause discouragement and disengagement.
While training can be a great way to expand the capabilities of your teams, the training that’s delivered needs to be complementary to roles and skillsets. It’s no good providing training in conflict management to your marketing team, for example.
By being more aware of what your employees are trained in and good at, you’re more capable of leveraging your existing talent pool in areas where skills are otherwise lacking. This is primarily achieved through reskilling programs which build on existing employee skills and apply their expertise in new ways. Organizations that offer such reskilling and upskilling opportunities also find that they build a stronger company culture over time and attract the best talent as a result.
Prioritize the Most Important Skills for Immediate Training
By knowing where skills gaps exist, why they exist, and which employees possess which skills and strengths, you can begin to close the skills gap by prioritizing the most important ones for immediate rectification.
If based on your research and data you can close up these skills gaps by training and reskilling your existing employees and helping them develop within, this is the deal way to go, not least because of the existing ‘Great Resignation’ crisis which is in large part due to employees feeling undervalued and underappreciated. Training should focus heavily on performance-based learning objectives that are based on the skills your organization is lacking.
There’s nothing wrong with filling a skills gap with external candidates but be mindful of the ongoing resignation crisis plaguing employers and that, if possible, it might benefit your organization more in the long run to leverage your existing talent pool.
Keep an Eye on Your Workforce With Organimi
The hardest part of closing an internal skills gap is finding out where one exists in the first place through skills gap analysis. There are lots of methodologies and tools that you can use, one being an organizational chart.
You can use an organizational chart to map out your organizational structure and visualize your existing workforce. Doing this allows you to see where areas of the business are being underresourced and which departments might be lacking in specialist roles.
Not only that but an org chart can also help you identify employees that might be suitable for promotion or development through reskilling or upskilling.
You can create your own organizational chart easily by using an org chart builder like Organimi.
Organimi can be integrated into your existing tools and systems to create an up-to-date chart that you can view and edit in a matter of seconds. It also keeps pace with changes in your organization, providing you with an always-current resource that you can turn to whenever you need to refresh your memory.
Get started today with an obligation-free trial of our powerful org chart tool!