A Brief Guide to Assessing Skill Gaps in your Business
Keeping up to date on your business’ performance and efficiency is an everyday task, part and parcel with the duties that business ownership entails. However, with growing skills shortages in the job market and extra pressure put on businesses in the wake of a global pandemic, especial attention may need to be paid to the skills gaps in your business. So what exactly do we mean by a skills gap? How do we identify them in a workforce, and how do we address them?
What is a Skills Gap?
The term ‘skills gap’ can mean a variety of things depending on the context – but always has the same result for a business. It can refer to a shortage of skilled labour on a workforce or available to hire, resulting in understaffing and pressure on company performance. More often, and more presciently for the purposes of this piece, a skill gap can also refer to an individual – whether they lack the adaptive skills to grow with the shifting demands of their position, or lack specific skills imperative for the company’s continued growth.
How to Identify Skills Gaps
The first port of call for identifying skills gaps in a workforce is to examine employee performance. The easiest way to do this is to use Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs), often illustrated in an employee’s onboarding and employment contract. These specific indicators track a given employee’s efficiency, company contributions and ultimate success in a role, and prove valuable in decisions regarding promotion or bonuses. If you notice that a given employee is struggling to perform well with regards to a specific KPI, you have successfully identified a skill gap, that appropriate intervention could easily close.
You can also create your own indicators for finding skill gaps, through the use of employee assessments, appraisals and observation. A clearer picture of your workforce’s individual abilities can be drawn from assessment results, while one-on-one conversation with employees can reveal any concerns an employee themselves might have about their role. If, on examination of your workforce, no clear skill gaps appear, this does not mean they do not exist; they may well be gaps in leadership.
Addressing a Skills Gap
Training is your most powerful tool to closing skills gaps. Having identified any gaps using KPIs, you can directly target the skills employees may be lacking, and nip them in the bud with training programs that get them up to speed. Mentoring is a useful process for employees struggling more generally with a shift in their job description – ie, away from outdated processes.
If your skills gap lies in leadership, things are a little trickier. Senior members of staff may not be as agreeable to corrective training as employees lower on the ladder, and require careful management as a result. A common answer is to make use of leadership consulting solutions to identify which skills your company needs.