According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, the number of job openings hit 11.5 million at the end of March 2022—the most openings since the data series began in December 2000. These statistics also revealed the number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs remains high. The ongoing Great Resignation, or Great Reshuffle, is creating negative impacts for organizations of all sizes, including productivity disruptions and ever-widening skills gaps.
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As business leaders and HR managers explore different ways to prevent top talent from leaving (or wanting to leave), one practical way to improve employee retention is to embrace ongoing employee development efforts. Surveys show training and promotion is important to employees who want to feel valued and recognized as a key part of business success. Unfortunately, employees don’t believe employers are investing in development. When resignation numbers started to increase in August 2020, one survey asked which benefits were most appealing to workers going forward. In fact, over half listed professional development as their top three priorities.
As the Great Resignation lingers on and it becomes more difficult to fill open positions, employers need to find ways to support employees who are seeking to take more control over career growth and advancement. It’s time for employers to invest more in their people with opportunities for coaching, mentorship, and skill building. While some level of turnover will always occur, HR professionals must work to retain critical skillsets and leverage technology to track workforce skills and certifications for planning purposes.
Why You Need to Address Skills Gaps Now
According to a recent survey by McKinsey, “87 percent of companies worldwide are aware that they either already have a skills gap or will experience one within the next few years.” Deloitte Consulting LLP also found that the “labor and skills shortage is so severe that CEOs rank it as the biggest obstacle that will disrupt business strategy in the next year.”
As businesses look to plan for future growth, it’s clear that new skillsets and capabilities will be needed. A skills gap refers to any situation where the skillset of an organization’s current workforce doesn’t align with the skills, they need to do their job successfully. A skill gap can exist anywhere—from hard skills including technology to softer skills such as time management.
Employees are acutely aware of these gaps and according to a recent survey conducted by TalentLMS, “more than half of workers said they aren’t getting enough training to thrive long-term.” This causes many workers to look for additional training outside of the company using personal time and resources. Some of the most desired training by employees includes communication, leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving. If your business is not satisfying these training needs, employees will find other ways to upskill—and that can be one “tell” an employee may be looking to change jobs.
Five Strategies to Bridge Skills Gaps
To stay ahead of the Great Resignation, companies can pursue multiple talent management strategies. Strategies include using a skills-first hiring model, boosting training and development opportunities, inviting retired workers back into the workforce, pursuing new graduates, and considering a jobs-first model for higher education goals. The best strategy to address your company’s skills gaps will likely involve a combination of these approaches.
Skills-First Hiring: Hiring experts note a shift in recruiting philosophy away from focusing exclusively on degrees and prior work experience and toward a skills-first model of hiring. According to LinkedIn data, employers who used skills data to fill open roles are 60% more likely to find a successful hire. College degrees are still important for many roles but insisting on a degree can mean an employer misses out on a large untapped reservoir of talented individuals who have learned skills but have not pursued (or completed) higher education. A great example would be the field of computer software development where many top coders are self-taught. Today’s web-based education platforms make it possible to learn a lot of valuable skills outside of the college setting.
Improving Training and Education Benefits: To strengthen retention and support career development for top talent, many forward-thinking businesses like Chipotle and Siemens are providing learning and upskilling programs that offer employees numerous options including high school diploma programs, college classes, computer networking skills, and mentoring for future executives. Chipotle for example offers a variety of programs that serve employees’ varied learning styles and preferences—whether it includes gamification to make training more exciting or simply making it more accessible on different platforms. The company also relies on technology to monitor training data to gain insight into when and where employees prefer to take courses as well as which courses are the most and least popular.
Pursuing New Graduates: Companies should provide additional training and make investments in the organization’s learning and development budget, according to a recent survey by TalentLMS. The same survey also showed that 46% of HR leaders are focusing on specific training for new graduates entering the workforce.
Re-Engaging Retirees: Only 12.9% of adults over age 65 have a job, but nearly all retain valuable skillsets. That explains why the TalentLMS survey found 42% of HR managers supporting the re-entry of formerly retired employees. Working with formerly retired people may mean engaging on more flexible terms, such as part-time work or temporary employment.
Jobs-First Model for Higher Education: A college education is a much bigger financial investment than many young people (and families) can afford today. In a jobs-first higher education model, young adults earn a certification or credential that generates stackable college credit for the future. Eventually, they will pursue a full degree, by earning one credential after another. However, they can get a job based on the first credential and in doing so, open up better financial opportunities. When comp
anies support jobs-first through their recruiting models and the structure of their tuition benefits, they can attract smart, ambitious younger employees in a more equitable way.
Leverage Technology to Support Your Talent Strategies
To successfully navigate the Great Resignation, business leaders and HR managers need to adjust their talent strategies. One important shift to make is from thinking about jobs and roles to skills and skillsets. A source from Deloitte points out, “reimagining work as a landscape of tasks and skills that dynamically evolves with business priorities.” Companies must gain a better understanding of their employees’ current skills and capabilities instead of academic degrees or previous experience. By knowing where your organization’s skills gaps exist and why, you can prioritize the most important ones, provide targeted training and reskilling to employees, and leverage existing strengths that may be present in other areas of your organization.
Training is important for business growth—and the growth of your employees. Surveys show that American workers desire career growth and will stay with a company that provides learning and development. To successfully manage training needs and progress, many organizations leverage HR software. Asure HR emboldens you to track certificates, licenses, and set up notifications for both employees and managers to alert them when it is time to renew. You can also build, monitor, maintain, and assign other training to your employees to increase loyalty and strengthen retention.