The prevailing uncertainty around Brexit has no doubt exacerbated their concerns.
The silver lining in the report was that many employers are willing to invest in recruitment to plug skills gaps in the coming year. But how can they ensure this investment delivers?
Conducting a skills audit is a good start. A skills audit is a valuable and efficient way to:
a) Identify opportunities to develop current employees’ skills in light of any shortage – many organisations will reward their top performing people with promotions, but neglect to address the gap in skills required to do their advanced role.
b) Understand which skills are needed and who is best placed to recruit for them.
While some studies have found there is a low desire to move jobs in the current economic climate, others have found that more employees are looking to move on – perhaps in search of a more interesting role. Whichever the case, providing more opportunities to develop your employees’ skills is usually a good way to both retain and get the best out of your people. It’s also much more cost efficient than replacing staff, and their loyalty is likely to strengthen your employer brand, making it much easier to attract new recruits to fill those essential gaps.
So where do you start?
Which skills do employees need to do their jobs well, for your organisation’s values to be demonstrated, and for you to achieve your current business goals? These may be different from when your staff were first employed.
Give consideration to both hard and soft skills; the latter can often be far more valuable – see our previous blog on the importance of soft skills.
Once you understand your up-to-date skills needs, you are in a better position to ascertain whether your existing employees are suitably skilled.
In our opinion, one-to-one interviews between line managers and employees are a more effective way of assessing for skills gaps than generic surveys. Simulated tasks such as mock presentations and questionnaires, or personality tests, can also be helpful. It is important to work closely with your HR department and lean on their expertise in this area.
This step will help you identify gaps where internal or external training could be of help and also help you spot any ‘untapped talent’ within your organisation i.e. additional skills which you can leverage for organisational success e.g. coaching or leadership skills.
Following an initial audit, reviewing employees’ skills should form an essential part of your ongoing appraisal process.
It’s vital to document your results, and numbers are far less subjective than general impressions or summaries and, thus, bias.
Rating the importance of certain skills for each role and the level of proficiency required from 1-5 (1 being poor, 5 being excellent, for example) can provide a good benchmark for measuring your actual skills against your desired ones.
There are lots of digital tools to facilitate this kind of analysis, but it can also be done through a simple spreadsheet.
With both quantitative and qualitative data to hand, you can decide on the best course of action to address your skills gaps, whether it be internal job shadowing or mentoring, external training courses and events, or recruitment.
Of course, the skills requirements by the organisation must be balanced with the personal development needs of your employees for any programme to work. Be sure also to provide feedback to employees to ensure they take ownership of any training or development requirements they need.
When it comes to assessing your existing skills and helping you spot development potential, a good recruitment partner can provide much impartiality. Likewise, when it comes to replacing or recruiting a new employee, they can help ensure you get it right by carrying out a more thorough skills assessment prior to shortlisting.
At Sitka, we spend time getting to understand our clients’ skills-base to understand the people and skills they need to drive success. Without this knowledge, it would be exceptionally more challenging to source candidates with the necessary qualities.
Whilst it requires an investment of time, performing a skills audit is unquestionably worthwhile and will help you get your organisation ready for whatever challenges Brexit and the future brings.
To talk to us further about filling a skills gap, please get in touch.
My experience of working with Sitka was very professional from start to finish. In particular, I was impressed by the personal touch, being contacted before and after the interview process even if just to say ‘good luck’.
Sitka wanted to know about the organisation, our culture, our plans and aspirations. This meant they could be really confident talking about us and I’d like to think they were proud to be working on our behalf.
Throughout the process, they kept us informed and the whole process felt like a true partnership. Each candidate came to the interview with a great understanding of our business and had prepared thoroughly, particularly at the second stage interviews.
The process I went through to get the Creditsafe job was very smooth. The role I was applying for was for a newly created role and therefore the expectations and the fit were important considerations. I genuinely believe that if Ita felt I couldn’t have done the role she wouldn’t have put me forward.
I had an excellent experience working with Sitka. They provided a far more personal approach than most recruitment companies, and they were very proactive in helping me find my new job.
Sitka take time to seek out opportunities that will actually be a good fit for you. For the first time I felt a recruiter was actually working for me not just for themselves/the employer.