Identifying and Filling Knowledge and Training Gaps

Training and upskilling benefit both your employees and your business. Discover how to find and fix training gaps in your organization.

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Identifying and Filling Knowledge and Training Gaps

Here's what you need to know:

  • Many organizations are having difficulty finding qualified talent, so training and upskilling benefit both employees and the organization
  • Analyzing where you’re having problems is the 1st step: finding the cause is the next
  • Analyze the practices you have in place to see where employees may need training or additional tools, and look for areas where problems occur
  • Take steps to fill knowledge gaps by job category
  • Assess each employee to determine what to train on
  • Once you assess what training is necessary, analyze whether it’s being delivered effectively

If your company is like hundreds of thousands across the country and the globe, you’re feeling the weight of skills and talent gaps. Unemployment levels are at near-record lows: with 100 million Americans part of today’s ‘inactive labor force.’

For business, this means difficulty finding applicants: even more difficulty finding qualified applicants.

The solution for many companies is training. The challenge is identifying where training is needed, and how to deliver it effectively.

A recent survey by Deloitte found 71% of CEOs anticipate the largest disrupter for business in 2022 will be labor and skill shortages. All new hires need training — from orientation to the businesses’ practices and protocols to upskilling to meet minimum requirements.

All businesses benefit from highly skilled employees. They run more efficiently and productively, and they innovate.

For applicants and staff members, training attracts and retains. When companies invest in upskilling, talent sees their worth and value.

The skills gap is a cause of anxiety for workers. Almost half surveyed by Degreed believe their current skills will be irrelevant in 2 years. Training meets the needs of business and staffers.

How to find training gaps in your organization

In every organization, there are training gaps. Production slows to a crawl or stops altogether in some areas. In other areas, there are consistent problems and concerns.

If it’s a supply chain issue, little can be done. But if it’s a skills gap, it may be reversible. Analyzing where you’re having problems is the 1st step: finding the cause is the next.

Training gaps may show up in errors, returns, or customer dissatisfaction. You may see performance issues where employees simply aren’t meeting goals or working effectively.

They may present as turnover: frustrated employees may simply move on. It’s important to assess where your organization is meeting goals and projections to determine where training will be the most impactful and effective.

Start with systems to determine where training may be needed

Analyze the practices you have in place to see where employees may need training or additional tools. Look for areas where problems occur.

Do employees have the tools they need to do the work correctly? In some cases, there may be equipment that needs updating.

Working with obsolete software or unreliable machinery may be to blame. Assess what upgrades will cost versus the cost of downtime. An investment today could translate to significant savings in the future.

Do employees have the tools they need to do the work correctly?

If the problem isn’t due to equipment, analyze whether employees are using it correctly (and safely). If they’re not, training or retraining may be warranted.

Look for other root causes of problems. If you’re consistently processing returns, for example, evaluate whether it’s a customer or fulfillment issue. Are clients returning items that are substandard or not as described? You may need a vendor upgrade or more accurate website.

Are people returning products that aren’t what they ordered? Analyze where, in fulfillment, workers are making mistakes and why. If hardware is the issue, it’s an easy fix. If staff members are the cause, more intensive training can resolve the problem.

Steps to take to fill knowledge gaps by job category

Always start by identifying company goals. What are you looking to improve? Are you hoping to maintain current (or pre-pandemic) productivity levels, or are looking to upgrade?

Training should be based 1st on company need. Employees may gravitate toward soft skills, but they’ll need to master necessary tasks first.

Break down needed skills by job or job category. It may seem difficult, but consider the best talent you have in each area.

Assess the skills they bring to the job to determine what is necessary. Fluency using the tools needed is only the beginning and should be the easiest training gap to fix.

Next, look for skills that go past technical capability. Talent may work with software intuitively, but are challenged to interact effectively with colleagues, or the reverse might be true.

Once you’ve quantified the hard and soft skills necessary to do the job, find and fill training gaps for individuals and teams.

Assess each employee to determine what to train on

Once you’ve listed what ‘haves’ are needed for the job, compare them to the ‘haves’ each employee brings to the table. A position may need word processing and spreadsheet fluency as hard skills: strong problem-solving and communication skills as soft. Assess each employee to determine what to train.

For some positions, you may need to start with the hard skills — using tools or equipment, for example. For others, soft skills are a priority — dealing with difficult customers, for example. As they master these priority skills, add on additional training to round out their skill set.

Group training may be the best option if gaps are seen among teams. For some staff members, direct training or mentoring may be the right choice. Online classes are also an option for training that can’t be done in-house.

For soft skills particularly, remote or gamified training may be the best route. Tailor the training, as much as possible, to the task and learner to assure the best outcome.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

Answer to see the results

Employees are eager to train, reskill, and upskill

Extensive data suggests employees are eager to reskill and upskill. A survey from PwC Global found 77% of staffers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain.

Employees want training, but they want it to be effective. Examine training methods and delivery to assure time isn’t being wasted and employees aren’t becoming frustrated.

If training doesn’t net results, this is an avenue to explore. Effective training relies on knowledgeable trainers who are patient and understand not everyone learns at the same pace.

Unfortunately, not everyone has that skill set. If this is the case at your company, consider looking into how to improve your management training.

If training (or retraining) isn’t effective, look for the cause. Training must be easy to understand; broken down into parts that build on past knowledge; and flexible.

Some staffers will absorb knowledge quickly, mastering steps with ease. For these workers, you’ll need to adapt to their pace to keep them from getting frustrate and bored.

Others are learners that are more methodical: they want to try it several times, or analyze all the options, before they consider themselves fluent. Slow down training to meet their learning style.

A new hire who understands the basics of Excel, for example, doesn’t need to start at square one. If the task is they master complex formulas, start at the middle, rather than the beginning.

Successful training may include training the trainers: showing them that adapting to the needs and style of the learner doesn’t slow down the process (or speed it up), it makes it more personalized and effective.

Fill the training gaps you have today and avoid them for the future

Filling the training gaps you have today is necessary: avoiding them for the future is critical. In some cases, uncovering training gaps revealed larger issues: systems, tools or procedures that made it more difficult to perform. In other cases, skills needed to be taught or upgraded to make the process work seamlessly.

Keep an eye on where the most common skills gaps occurred for current employees and have a plan to target training in these areas for future staff members. You may need to concentrate more heavily on procedures and or delivery.

Once technical skills are mastered, consider automatically requiring training for power skills (soft skills). Continuous learning is key to maintain current levels. To grow, it may you may need to go further.

You won’t be alone. A survey from Citrix 82% of workers and 62% HR Directors believe they’ll need to upskill or reskill at least once a year to maintain a competitive advantage.

Many businesses are too busy trying to train employees to analyze what training is effective and needed. You may be upskilling in an area that’s nice to have, but not a direct link to performance or productivity.

Once you assess what’s necessary, analyze whether it’s being delivered effectively. Create a logical progression for an upskilling program to make sure your company and your employees are getting the most bang for your training buck.

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