Employers have been painting an unsavory picture about the growing skills gap over the past decade. Unfortunately, the numbers back it up. Specifically, two million U.S. manufacturing jobs will remain unfilled over the next decade due to a shortage of trained workers. And as Baby Boomers retire, 4 million skilled workers are leaving the workforce each year.
However, as this Entrepreneur article by Andre Lavoie suggests, it’s possible that organizations have the wrong perspective, resulting in company development efforts missing the mark.
“In short, when roles grow in scope, employees may not be properly informed or equipped to grow with them; and that leaves both employees and managers dissatisfied because the demands of these jobs aren’t being met,” writes Lavoie. “Evidence for this view? A Gallup survey conducted in 2015 revealed that only 50 percent of employees polled strongly agreed that they knew what was expected of them at work.”
According to Lavoie, the answer involves surveying current employees, evaluating the A-players in the organization as well as identifying if there are gaps as a result of a lack of innovation.
Let’s take a look at how leveraging video can make a difference.
Assess. The only way to truly understand what’s going on is to analyze the perceptions of the workforce. No amount of market data will facilitate change within your organization. The skills gap varies significantly by organization and even by department.
Digital surveys are very helpful in gathering quantifiable data. Understanding what percentage of your workforce know what is expected of them at work, for example, not only helps to paint a picture of where you are now, but creates a baseline from which you can measure progress. But this quantitative data is only half of the picture. It is often the qualitative inputs that help to uncover the “why” behind your current state of business.
Gathering this qualitative data is one area where video conferencing can play a meaningful role. After all, it’s hard to identify challenges any other way but face-to-face. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to schedule physical meetings with the employees that work from another office or time zone. Video conferencing gives HR a means to quickly connect with virtually anyone and conversations can even be recorded and archived, making it easy to refer back to these conversations, as needed.
Strategize. The next step is to get a better understanding of the individuals who are excelling within the organization. Lavoie suggests, “Make a list of common skills and traits that employees who excel in various roles possess, and use them as a benchmark for determining how other employees and new hires will perform in specific roles. Identify which traits are needed, and which skills can be taught to close the skills gap.”
Again, leveraging a video conferencing and content management tool can make it easier to take a series of conversations with A-players and start to parse out the commonalities among them. With their HR partner’s help, team leads can put these commonalities into the category of trait or skill.
Since traits are often inherent to an individual, these interviews can serve as a guide for hiring managers to look for candidates that have the traits needed for the job. And when it is truly a skills gap, they can use the videos as skill-enhancing training tools for current team members and new-hires.
Act. Sometimes, when innovation lags, skills within the workforce do too. When this is the case, an environment that facilitates innovation through diversity is often the most effective route to closing the skills gap internally. The proper use of independent contractors is a simple, quick, and low-risk way for organizations to introduce individuals with diverse perspectives and backgrounds that “spark conversation which will lead to new ideas, innovation and the closing of the skills gap.”
Using video conferencing to integrate independent contractors into the work environment empowers the business to leverage experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to employ as a full-time employee. This not only fills immediate project needs, it represents an opportunity for in-house development through ongoing face-to-face engagement.
Bottom Line: When you recognize that there is a skills gap in your organization, there are three steps to take to start to close that gap. Start by understanding where your organization, specifically, is falling short. Use your top performers as not only a benchmark, but as a tool to start to up-level team skills. And use the positive tension created with diversity to jump start innovation. And along the way, video conferencing can improve the reach, usefulness, and effectiveness of your efforts.