With a changing workforce, new technologies and evolving markets, there are constantly new challenges for HR managers. Often these challenges arise from disparities between the business, HR and employees. When the skills required don’t match up with capabilities available, or when there is a misconception about what a business’s skills and capabilities requirements are, HR is often left with a challenge at hand.
Though these Workforce gaps are common in the workplace today, there are also some standard solutions to resolve them.
There are many types of workforce gaps and they may vary depending on your business and industry, but there are three main ones to look out for. These three gaps have arisen from some common trends in the workforce and economy so most businesses face at least one of them.
The skills that companies think they have or need compared to the skills that they actually have or can get is called the workforce skills gap. This gap has been increasing in recent years and can arise for several reasons.
Often it is due to poor planning or oversight. This might be because a business focuses entirely on present strategy and challenges rather than looking at forecasting future ones, or they may simply not have the technology to do so. This can result in a business not having a clear view of their current skills, not understanding what skills they may need in the future to achieve goals and overcome challenges or not planning properly to fill vacant roles.
Workforce Skills gaps can also come from unrealistic expectations. With many businesses so focused on the need to keep costs low, they can let themselves believe that the current skills they have are sufficient even when that might not be the case. This is especially true when looking at skills for an upcoming project or one-off work. Businesses are often reluctant to have to outsource for certain skills or invest in training when they’re not sure how useful the skills will be for the business long-term. Relying on current skills entirely can result in a skills gap creeping up midway through a project and risking deadlines or work quality.
Of course, workforce skills gaps can also happen unexpectedly that even the best succession planning can’t predict. The release of new technology for example or skills gaps within the job market where the new hiring pool is smaller than the requirements of businesses in the industry.
Skills gaps can occur at an individual level where the skills an employee has doesn’t match up to the requirements of the role. This might be because there are changes in employee duties, poor performance review indicating they’re falling short of what the role needs or there may be new skills required for a promotion or upcoming project.
Skills gaps at the team or company level are usually spotted when a business or team fails to meet their goals or a big upcoming project requires certain skills. Skills gaps here can also arise from a shift in strategy or taking on new technologies.
Perform a skills gap analysis by assessing your current capabilities and skills and then identify what skills you need in the future. Software can help support this process by giving you a clearer overview of your current workforce, the skills they have and their individual goals for the skills they want to develop. Being able to quickly and easily identify your top talent and filter your workforce by the skills they have or want to learn is an essential first step in being able to close your workforce skills gap.
You then need to be able to identify the skills you need currently to assess your present skills gap. Think about what your company values and what your employees need in order to perform well in their roles. If it’s for a new project then it might be obvious from the outset what skills will be needed to get the work done. Other skills gaps might be less obvious, such as a lack of soft skills that might only be apparent when you take a deeper look at what skills your company wants to nurture to achieve business goals.
Finally, you can then look at filling your skills with through hiring or training. The right option will depend on the specific skills gap challenge. For example, an upcoming project might have a tight start date and deadline and so hiring or outsourcing to someone that already has the skills needed might be a more realistic option than training a current member of staff from scratch. If you’re looking at more long term goals, then investing in training like developing a soft skills training program might alternatively be the right option.
To reduce skills gaps in the future, you will need to implement a strong succession strategy. Again, the right HR solution can help to make this easier by providing forecasting tools to help you assess when your current workforce may be up for retirement or other situations that could present a future skills gap. It can then help to automate the process of filtering your workforce by skills and career plan to help match the right employee to the right role quickly and efficiently. Over time, these tools can help you build up a talent pool of skills so that you always have the right employee for the job.
The engagement is a newer challenge facing HR professionals today. Also called the workforce experience gap, this is the quality of the employee experience that companies think they are delivering compared to the actual engagement levels of these employees. While it’s much more widely accepted that putting people and experiences first is essential, it’s also becoming apparent that businesses are finding it challenging to do this. While 69% of CEOs believe they are delivering a superior employee experience, employee engagement is still only at 34%. That’s a huge gap between what businesses think they are doing and what is actually happening.
It can not be overstated how important engagement and the employee experience is. The current workforce engagement gap is resulting in low employee morale, poor collaboration, low innovation and employee attrition. Simply put, not delivering a good employee experience is just bad for business.
Delivering a superior experience doesn’t happen overnight and there are many ways you can address yours from recruitment right through to retiring. Here are our top tips to help you get started.
Combine traditional transactional HR data like how many employees are leaving, how many candidates accept offers and more with human factor data such as beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you the why rather than the what. Collecting feedback from employees and taking a deeper look at key metrics in line with this qualitative data can help you quickly and efficiently optimise your employee experience rather than going on guesswork.
Make people and experiences part of the core values and beliefs of your business. Communicate these beliefs to managers, teams and at the employee level in everything you do. Giving managers tools to communicate with employees and personalising the experience for them helps cultivate a people-first culture.
Use the right technology and utilise things like automation to deliver a better experience. Today’s HR solutions can give a customer-type employee experience with superior UX and efficient self-service capabilities. Automation can also take the manual labour out of workflows as well as make the experience better for employees with things like recommended training content and automated digital paperwork so that admin is completed as efficiently as possible.
Finally, the workforce learning gap is the disparity between how important training and learning is to both managers and employees and how well this learning is actually being delivered. Training and career development is one of the number one reasons that employees choose to stay with a company and many bases their decisions on which company offers the best learning and development. Managers also think training is important with 56% stating that training and development are essential business enablers. Unfortunately, 62% of managers believe that they are not doing a good job of meeting learners needs. That’s a big gap between where managers and employees think learning should be compared to where it actually is.
To close the workforce learning gap, you need to reimagine the learning experience from your employees perspective and deliver a new engaging learning strategy. Again, there is a whole process for this with various tools and practices you can implement but here are our top tips to get started.
Today, employees learn from a wide variety of sources from TED Talks to podcasts and much more. If your learning experience isn’t delivering this content in one place, then you’re not delivering the experience your employees really wanted and if they go elsewhere to find it, then you’ll be missing a large piece of the picture. Delivering this curated content in one place means you can keep track of tending content and the learning path so you can better optimise your content in the future and focus your resources on creating the learning content that works best.
Create personalised learning paths based on the needs and goals of a department, team or even individual employee. Today, HR software can help you create a dedicated learning portable for employees with content from all over the web, not just internally created courses. Based on a team or employee goals, you can then allocate recommended courses or training and even empower managers to recommend employee-specific content quickly and easily. Research has shown that the manager recommended content is much more engaging to employees and a personalised experience like this can go a long way to improving the overall learning experience.
Using a cloud-based solution is vital as it means you can deliver training and learning materials to employees anytime and anyplace. With a workforce that has an increasing number of freelancers and other contingent workers, it’s important to be able to deliver training remotely. Even for your full-time in-office workforce, you’ll find a large portion of them want to be able to learn at their own pace. To make sure your experience is engaging you need to be empowering employees to take control of their own learning and access content from multiple devices in any location and at any time that suits them.
There might be many other gaps in your HR depending on your industry and business. The important thing is to have the data and tools to help you identify the trends in your data and uncover these gaps, along with the resources and capabilities to resolve them when the time comes. SuccessFactors is a world-class HRMS that can help you do all of this and more. You can book a free demo to see it in action today or find out more by contacting our team.