A skills gap analysis is one of the best tools that HR can use to understand their “skills inventory”. An effective analysis can mean the difference between a competitive workforce and slipping so far behind that it’s impossible to catch up. With so much riding on this process, it’s critical to get its core function – measurement – just right.
Why Is Measurement Important for a Skills Gap Analysis?
Experts split up a skills gap analysis in different ways. Here is a simple three step method:
- Positions – mapping all employee positions in the company and then adding those that will be required in the short term
- Processes – listing the skills that are associated with each position, comparing those to the skills employees have currently, and understanding what’s missing
- Programs – filling in the gaps with training and hiring
During the “processes” stage, HR creates a skills inventory that shows where they stand with their current roster of employees. Some positions and skills will be completely missing, but a more common situation is that workers need to build upon what’s already there. But to what degree?
Metrics allow HR to figure out exactly which employees require what training, and at what level. For example, the analysis might show that customer service staff handles their email flow well, but you’ve heard complaints about client call-ins. So they don’t need communication skills training from scratch, but could use some touching up in the verbal department.
Skill Gap Measurement Frameworks
Applying different types of metrics allows you to vary your approach according to your goals at the moment. You might be in the middle of an organizational change, when your objective is to create an extensive list of current skills so that you know how to assign employees to new departments. Or you might be involved in a half-year analysis and just looking for any glaring gaps.
You can also use these methods beyond a skills gap analysis. It’s important to keep an eye on skill levels as often as possible. For example, skill-related questions on periodic evaluation forms for both managers and employees will be an advantage when looking at candidates for leadership positions. In short, you can choose from the following methods to suit any number of initiatives:
These tests are often applied when a person is first hired, but not always. If there is a shortened hiring process due to demand, there is a chance that a worker doesn’t get evaluated for general aptitude. But this is often necessary at some point to determine the basic abilities of your workforce, for example:
- Written and multiple choice tests
- IQ evaluations
- Demonstrations of role-related skills and insights
One step up in complexity from aptitude tests are behavioral assessments. These examine higher-level skills that require a combination of basic abilities. They are often applied to managers or managerial candidates, but are actually relevant to all employees. Included in a behavioral assessment are activities such as critical thinking, decision-making, creative thinking, and memory tests.
Evaluation in this area can be done through logic puzzles, math questions, scenarios, and interviews.
Several kinds of essential employee interactions occur in groups. That’s why, in many companies, job candidates are observed as they participate in discussions or role playing. This can occur both with other employees and with managers and HR people.
Group dynamics can be used to test employees in situations that are similar to their current role, or to see how they will perform in a position that is new to them. HR can try different situations according to the skill gaps that they need to fill.
This option can also be used when there isn’t enough time for individual evaluations. You can “skip” other forms of single employee testing for when it is more convenient.
One of the tasks in a skills gap analysis is to list skills according to role. As part of the measurement phase, HR can use a role competency assessment to understand how well an employee fulfills these skills.
During a role competency test, the employee should be examined (time permitting) to demonstrate performance in each aspect of their role. However, it can be a challenge for HR to devise a test for every ability. Often, the worker will simply perform their job as HR or a manager grades different aspects of their activities.
A common issue with grading skills, particularly soft skills, is that performance is subjective. An employee who seems to have great leadership skills according to one person may be a dismal manager according to another.
360-degree feedback tends to eliminate this bias by involving reviews from direct managers, department heads, clients, coworkers, and HR members.
Another common evaluation tool is the performance review, which is administered at least once a year. Performance reviews usually include a section for skill assessment. However, if the reviews occur when a skills gap analysis is underway, you could include a few additional questions about them.
Get Rid of Gaps with GrowthSpace
Once skill gaps have been identified, the next step is to eliminate them. Some organizations will hire employees with in-demand abilities, but it’s much more practical and cost-effective to upskill existing talent.
GrowthSpace is the right platform for organizations that want to do this accurately and at scale. Any skills gap analysis will show varying levels of ability within a workforce, so personalized L&D is the only way to go. With its award winning technology, GrowthSpace enables precise professional skills training that’s fast, easy to manage, and always measurable.