A Comprehensive Guide to Addressing the Skill Gap in Your Organization

November 20, 2022 by Cynthia Orduña

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Are you looking to future-proof your organization? In order to do so, you’ll need to learn how to address the skill gap of your employees. 

Multiple i​ndustries across the globe are experiencing the effects of digital transformation, prompting talent and human resources leaders to strategize on investing in their workforce for retention, rather than resorting to layoffs. Many companies lack the talent they will need in their future, facing an increasing skills gap crisis within their organization that can hinder progress and innovation. 

In this comprehensible guide, we will provide actionable insights on how to bridge the talent divide in your organization. We’ll cover:

  • The skill gap definition
  • Examples of skill gaps in the workplace
  • How to identify a skill gap
  • How to overcome a skill gap
  • Common challenges with skill gaps and tips for success
  • Careerminds skill gap case study

What Is a Skill Gap?

A skill gap represents the disparity between an employee’s skill set and the skills necessary for a particular role within your company. To understand this skill gap definition, let’s consider an example. 

Imagine a manufacturing company that has recently adopted a cutting-edge automation technology to improve its production processes. While the company invested in state-of-the-art machinery, it neglected to provide adequate training to its employees. Consequently, the employees within the company lack the skills and knowledge required to operate and maintain the new equipment effectively. 

This is a prime example of a skill gap within an organization. Let’s dig into this a bit more with some examples of what specific skills might be identified in a skill gap.

What Is an Example of a Skill Gap in the Workplace?

The specific skills within the gap can vary greatly depending on your industry and organizational needs. So you will need to conduct your own analysis to identify what skills are in the skills gap for your staff. However, here are some common skills that are often found to be lacking in organizations:

Digital Literacy: In an increasingly digital world, employees must always be proficient in using digital tools and software.

Critical Thinking: Problem-solving and decision-making skills are vital for adapting to changing situations and making informed choices.

Soft Skills: Interpersonal skills, communication, and teamwork are essential for a harmonious and productive workplace.

Industry-Specific Expertise: Employees may require specialized knowledge and expertise related to your specific industry or niche.

How Do You Identify a Skills Gap?

Conducting a skill gap analysis is a valuable tool for aligning your staff’s skills and expertise with your company’s future goals. This analysis offers valuable insights to inform your employee development programs, while also unveiling untapped potential within your workforce that you might not have previously recognized.  

Identifying a skill gap is the first crucial step to addressing it. Here are a few tactics you can employ to strategize and execute a skill gap analysis in your workplace. 

Define Your Objectives

Begin by clarifying the objectives of your skill gap analysis. What are your organization’s short-term and long-term goals? These objectives will guide the analysis process and determine the skills you need to assess. 

Identify Key Competencies

For each role or department in your organization, identify the key competencies and skills required. These should align with your objectives. Speak to the department heads, managers, and executives to ensure comprehensive coverage. 

Assess the Situation

Choose an assessment method to utilize. This can include surveys, interviews, performance evaluations, and external benchmarking. The method you choose will be dependent on the resources you have available, the size of your company, and specific skills being assessed. 

Here are a few examples of key indicators you can use to look for skill gaps:

  1. Performance Discrepancies: Compare your expected performance levels with the actual performance of your employees. If there is a significant gap, it may signal a skills deficiency. 
  2. High Turnover Rates: Frequent turnover in specific roles or departments may be an indication that employees feel unprepared or dissatisfied with their skill set. 
  3. Client/Customer Feedback: Pay attention to customer complaints or feedback related to product or service quality in relation to how your employees are performing. 
  4. Technological Advancements: In today’s environment, if your organization lags in adopting and utilizing new technology, it could be another signal of a skill gap. 

Create a Skills Inventory

After you’ve done a skill gap analysis, you’ll want to compile a list of all the skills and competencies currently possessed by your employees. This inventory should include both hard and soft skills. 

Identify Skill Gaps

Compare the skills inventory with the list of required competencies. Where do the gaps exist? Are there areas where your employees lack essential skills? Are they underdeveloped in specific competencies? This is the heart of your skill gap analysis. 

Prioritize the Gaps

Not all skill gaps are equal. Prioritize the identified gaps based on their relevance to your organizational goals. Focus on the gaps that have the most significant impact on your objectives. 

How Do You Overcome Skill Gaps?

In order to overcome a skill gap, it’ll require a strategic and proactive approach. Here are some steps to help you bridge the talent divide you’ve identified in your skill gap analysis:

Develop a Training Plan

Based on your skill gap assessment, create a comprehensive training plan for your employees. Invest in training programs, workshops, and online courses that address the identified skill gaps and develop a schedule to implement it throughout the organization. Tailor the training to the needs of your employees and provide resources for ongoing learning so there is less of a chance for skill gaps in the future. 

Mentoring and Coaching

Pair experienced employees with those who need skill development. Mentoring and coaching programs can be highly effective for transferring knowledge and skills within the organization without having to hire externally. 

Adapt to Technology

Stay ahead of industry trends and technological advancements. As your company is adapting to  the latest tools and technologies, ensure that your workforce is well-equipped to use them effectively.

Recruit and Onboard Effectively

When hiring new talent, make sure your recruitment and onboarding processes focus on assessing and addressing skill gaps. Seek candidates who are open to learning, development, and mentoring other employees. 

Feedback and Communication

Maintain open and transparent communication with your employees in order to receive feedback on their training experiences and suggested improvements.

Hire a Career Coaching Company

Lastly, you can always outsource and invest in a career coaching company to help close the skill gap within your organization. Hiring an external partner can be useful when projects are too large to tackle on your own and can assist in accelerating employees’ skill development. 

Skill Gap Challenges and Tips for Success

Conducting a skill gap analysis is not without its challenges. Here are some common challenges you may encounter in identifying and addressing skill gaps in your organization, and tips for overcoming them. 

Challenge 1: Resistance to Change

Tip: Clearly communicate the benefits of addressing skill gaps to employees. By involving them in the process and making it a collaborative effort, you’ll lessen the resistance that may come from these changes. Consider conducting workshops or team meetings where you can discuss the importance of skill development for both individual growth and the success of the organization.

Challenge 2: Resource Constraints

Tip: Prioritize skill gaps and allocate resources strategically to the most critical. Consider leveraging cost-effective online training and development resources or outsourcing. The investment in having an external partner may be more beneficial than putting additional projects on top of your employees’ responsibilities. 

Challenge 3: Monitoring Programs 

Tip: Utilize technology and data analytics to track employee progress. By implementing a learning management system or HR software that helps you keep tabs on employee development, you’ll be able to easily track how people are progressing. These systems can provide real-time data on course completion, performance, and skill improvements. 

Challenge 4: Accurate Assessment

Tip: Use a combination of assessment tools for a more accurate picture. Self-assessments, peer evaluations, and manager assessments can all provide different perspectives. So it’s important to use external benchmarks or industry standards to provide an objective reference point. By combining these assessment methods, you can obtain a more holistic and accurate picture of the skill gaps within your organization.  

Careerminds Skill Gap Case Study

Here is a case study of how Careerminds supported Entergy Corporation with career coaching as a way to address their skill gap and retain their employees.

Skill Gap Case Study: The Company

Entergy Corporation is a Fortune 500 holding company that provides utility services to three million customers in four southern states through its utility operating companies. These Entergy system companies have been on a mission to upskill and retain employees to meet the ever-changing needs of the utility industry.

Entergy’s Talent Acquisition department turned to Careerminds to help implement a program to retain employees impacted by the planned closure of a nuclear power plant.

Skill Gap Case Study: The Program

The program objective was to allow any impacted plant employee the opportunity to fill an open position within the Entergy system if their skill set matched the role. Impacted employees were also given the opportunity to upskill if they did not meet the requirements for a position of interest. A secondary objective was to retain 100% of impacted employees within the Entergy system.

Every impacted employee who participated in the program had a branded profile with relevant technical and behavioral skills that were matched to identified job openings. Entergy’s Talent Acquisition department connected with Careerminds’ coaches to facilitate matching workers to the most appropriate job openings.

Careerminds coaches met with participants in the redeployment program on a regular basis to assess their progress in transitioning to new roles, help them identify opportunities that were realistic for them based on their skills and experience, and encourage them to think positively about their future roles. If positions were identified as good possibilities for reskilling or upskilling, a skill gap analysis was performed in coaching sessions with input from both the candidates and coaches.

Regular meetings were held between Entergy Talent Acquisition representatives and Careerminds coaches about the progress of candidates in the program, and efforts were made by the Entergy HR business partners to help the candidates network with recruiters for the identified positions.

Skill Gap Case Study: One Example

One program participant was able to upskill into a new human resources role. He was interested in advancing his career rather than being in a “bubble,” as he termed his situation. To accomplish his goal of being hired for an HR advisor position, he first applied for and was accepted into a leadership development program. This enabled him to earn an HR credential that better positioned him for a higher-level job position.

Emphasis was also placed on building his brand to include his new skills and the contributions he could make in a new, more advanced role. In addition, time was devoted to interview preparation with a Careerminds coach. In the end, the participant felt he was effective in upskilling through the collaborative efforts of his employer and Careerminds, who had his best interests in mind and helped him achieve his goals.

Skill Gap Case Study: The Takeaways

Ultimately, every impacted employee who chose to participate in the program found another position within the Entergy system, and no employee was outplaced.

By identifying, assessing, and proactively addressing skill gaps, you can not only retain your workforce, but also position your company for sustained success.

If you’re looking for support with a skill gap within your organization, Careerminds Career Development Coaching uses a flexible and blended approach to work with employees at all levels and tenure to help them bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to go within your workforce. Or if any impacted employees will not be staying within your organization, you can still help bridge the skill gap by providing them with valuable outplacement services.

Click below to speak with a Careerminds expert and assess what talent development solutions you need for your organization:
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Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña is a Career and Business Coach with a background in recruiting, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has helped 50+ companies around the world hire and retain talent in cities like LA, SF, NY, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, and London. She has also coached over 300 people, from entry to senior levels, in developing their one-of-a-kind career paths, Her work has been featured in publications such as Business Insider, The Balance Careers, The Zoe Report, and more. To learn more you can connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn.

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