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Closing the Skills Gap In Your Employees: 7 Tips

— by Noel Diem

Employee trainingHuman resourcesLearning and developmentLearning developmentManagementSkills gapTraining

Closing the skills gap is a topic many human resources leaders are talking about for a good reason: you are trying to find ways to keep your existing employees and reduce churn that causes culture issues, costs money, and takes a lot of time. 

One of the most important parts of talent development and management is doing a skills gap analysis and determining how to fix it so your workforce is comfortable and supported. This is hard to do with everything else HR leaders have on their plates – but it’s possible. One of the most important things you can do is arm yourself with talent development software that helps to automate some of your daily tasks and reveal trends within your company. Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo of the Trakstar platform, including Trakstar Learn, today.

What is a Skill Gap?

According to Wiley University, 55% of employees believe there is a severe skills gap within their organizations.  Many jobs are becoming automated or changing, so we need highly skilled workers, but we don’t have enough of them. Employers are better off addressing the skills gap in existing employees rather than recruiting new employees (in many cases).

The skills gap definition is when your current workforce’s skill set doesn’t align with the skills they need to successfully perform their jobs. Skills gaps are common across all industries, with IT, healthcare, construction, and professional services ranking near the top. According to Better Up, nearly 80% of employers say that skill-building is part of their plan for long-term growth.

It’s important to note that skills gaps don’t just pertain to technology skills; they can include communication, empathy, and teamwork. Recognizing gaps in your employee’s skill set can help your company in the present while also helping them prepare for the future, whether by investing in succession planning or just weathering some of the storms we can already predict. 

Addressing your skills gap makes your company more likely to deliver on its strategy. Plus, investing in skill development increases employee performance and satisfaction.

7 Tips For Closing Skills Gaps

Closing the skills gap is difficult, particularly if you have several gaps you need to close. The best thing to do is work slowly but surely to keep working towards closing the gap while keeping your employees engaged in their training.

Identify Skills Gaps

Before you can really do anything about closing skills gaps, you have to identify them, and that might be harder than you’d expect. You need to establish the starting point so that you can monitor the impact of the work you’re doing. There are a few different ways you can look at your workforce:

  • Invest in a skills gap analysis
  • Assess the scores learners received on your LMS
  • Get 360-reviews to get a better understanding of what other employees think
  • Run engagement surveys asking about skills gaps
  • Find out what types of learners your employees are
  • Evaluate metrics that you can see
  • Ask other HR leaders what they’re doing

Finding out exactly what your skills gaps are can help you develop training and upskilling materials to help you close that gap.

Include Skills Gap Training In Your Onboarding Program

Once you’ve started combating the skills gap in your existing employees, you need to ensure the people coming into your workforce have the same skills. If they don’t, you need to work skills gap training into onboarding. This will ensure they come into the workforce ready to go. It can also help to encourage your existing employees to finish their skills gap training to keep up with new employees. You don’t want to create a competitive environment, but sometimes training engagement rates are low and you’ll need something to just push your employees to be their best.

For more information about how to build a successful onboarding program, you can download our checklist here.

Invest in Learning Management Software

Learning management software can help you to make an impact on your skills gap in a short amount of time. Using an LMS allows you to create learning materials that you can use over and over again (like in onboarding or in waves with different departments) without having to create something new.

The best part about using an LMS is that many training courses are self-driven. Your employees can work on courses as they have free time. You can schedule training sessions or give your employees a due date and the freedom to complete it. 

Using an LMS can help you make interesting learning materials as well. Use screen recordings, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes and assessments, and so much more to build content that really sticks and works to close the skills gap.

Increase Employee Engagement in Ongoing Training

Increasing employee engagement can be really difficult. One of the best ways to increase employee engagement is to incentivize employees to reach their goals. One way to do this is by setting SMART goals that chart their way to success. They’ll be able to see all of the tools they have (like learning courses, mentorships, and professional development) to achieve those goals.

Another way is to set department goals where everyone is accountable to their teammates. If a whole department finishes training and shows progress in their skills, maybe they get a special lunch or piece of company swag.

Upskill Employees Who Deserve It

Another option is to close smaller skills gaps by upskilling specific employees. This helps to fill out teams with skills they’ll need to achieve certain tasks and goals, but maybe the entire team doesn’t need to know how to do it.

You can also use learning to close leadership and communication skills gaps so that your teams function better and have a happier work environment. This can lead back to achieving goals, reaching KPIs and OKRs, and increasing employee engagement rates.

Upskilling isn’t always easy, so you may need to look at your existing employees, use a 9-box grid to plan for succession, or collect 360-degree feedback to see who might be ready for upskilling and who needs a little more time.

Understand What You Should Track

When you track certain metrics and milestones, you’ll be able to see progress within your workforce and make small changes to improve your lessons. But what metrics do you need to know? There are a few ways you can measure the success of your learning management:

  • Employee Engagement
  • Completion Rates (who finished the lesson?)
  • Time in Lesson (Are they interacting with your content or just clicking through?)
  • Assessment scores
  • Results (do you see changes in your workforce)
  • Performance Review scores
  • PIP success

The possibilities are limitless if you have the tools you need to measure success. Use the Insights dashboard to help you there.

Do More of What Works

If you notice your lessons are working and the skills gap is closing, you need to do more of what works. It can be difficult to track these metrics, and sometimes, you can’t track them. However, Trakstar Learn comes with the included Trakstar Insights dashboard to help you better understand your workforce and how training impacts them. You can also use the dashboard when it’s built into Trakstar Perform to identify gaps in your workforce and then automatically move them over to Trakstar Learn to get what they need.

Move Your Skills Gap Training Online With Trakstar Learn

If you are moving your skills gap training online, you need to work with the best learning management system to help you get it done. With the job market as competitive as it is (for hirers!), you need to show an investment in your existing workforce.

At Trakstar, our software is purpose-built to keep employees engaged at every stage of talent development. We work extremely closely with HR leaders to identify what they need out of their learning management systems and how that ties into other areas of their jobs as well, including in applicant recruitment and hiring and performance management.

Click here to schedule a demo of the Trakstar Platform, including Trakstar Learn.

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Who is Trakstar?

Trakstar is a multi-product HR software provider helping organizations put the people back in people management. Develop and align your staff through better recruiting and applicant tracking, performance management, and learning management. For a more integrated solution to talent management, check out our website and request a live demonstration today.