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Talent skills gap: This is what your company should focus on during a crisis

If your company has a skills gap, should it focus on employee strengths or weaknesses when trying to decide who to hire and retain? A little of both.

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Filling skills gaps under normal conditions is a routine challenge for most companies and human resources departments. But during times of crisis, like the COVID-19 outbreak, when there’s less time than usual to evaluate skills gaps, should you be focused on employee strengths or weaknesses? In short, both.  

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Regardless of industry, as COVID-19 unfolded around the world, most companies were left scrambling to do more with less staff. This meant quickly reevaluating their most valuable assets—their employees. This became more critical for governments, hospitals, care centers, grocery chains, financial institutions, and logistics companies. These businesses and institutions had to rapidly and accurately determine which skill sets they could leverage and where they fell short. 

With governments around the world trying to find ways to ease physical distancing restrictions, your business will still continue to find ways to accomplish more work with less staff. This will require a closer look at both the strengths and weaknesses of your talent pool. By reevaluating your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, it allows your company to maximize output where your internal skill sets are strongest, cross-train where possible, and reallocate to areas that are lacking. Without focusing on your talent strengths and weaknesses, you simply can’t fill in gaps effectively without creating a new gap elsewhere. 

SEE: How to perform a GAP analysis and why you should (TechRepublic)

During times of crisis and recovery, it’s essential that your company knows where its employees excel and where they need to refocus efforts, and how to develop a plan to bridge the talent gap. One way to do this is by conducting a workforce GAP analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses. A skills gap analysis should encompass physical, cognitive, emotional, and technological skills. 

Your company’s strengths

As a result of the pandemic, Minnesota developed a “Stay Safe MN Plan,” to help businesses successfully modify the size and makeup of their workforces. Stage 3 of its economic recovery plan focused on workforce GAP analysis, which looked at the employees who were returning to work and how to best leverage their skills, whether full-time, part-time, or casual. By taking an inventory of their available pool of skill sets, Minnesota could identify and implement employee training, shared work arrangements, access to the necessary resources and tools, and automation as part of the plan to create a work-life balance and still bridge the talent gap. Knowing where your employees excel helps your company establish a stronger competitive advantage.

SEE: How to prepare your organization for a global pandemic (TechRepublic Premium)

Your company’s weaknesses

Skills gaps can be the result of employees not returning to work due to health issues, layoffs,  retirements, or not having the needed skills within your company’s existing talent pool. Analyzing weaknesses within your workforce allows your company to get laser-focused on the specific skills it’s seeking when hiring new employees and reduce recruiting time and costs. Having a strong understanding of areas of weakness helps leaders make better decisions about future hiring decisions and project and operational capabilities. 

SEE:  <strong>Combine GAP and SWOT analysis to improve business performance</strong>  (TechRepublic)

Post COVID-19 hiring  

Having the right skills for today isn’t enough. According to Gartner, 60% of human resources executives reported that their CEOs wanted to ensure employees have the skills needed for the future. The report, “Five imperatives to develop a skills-based plan,” includes conducting a skills-based analysis. Gartner explains, though, that companies shouldn’t just be focused on skills alone, but also on developing and maintaining a competitive advantage.

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