How to leverage existing talent to fill skills gaps

Building skills that can’t be bought or borrowed is set to be a priority HR trend for 2023 as a more challenging economic environment leads to HR and L&D teams being asked to get better results from fewer people.

While hiring freezes and redundancies currently appear concentrated in tech, contagion into the wider economy may not be far behind.

Across a broad range of organisations, business leaders are reviewing spending patterns, and this is often felt in recruitment and training budgets, forcing HR and L&D teams to search for the most cost-effective way to address skills gaps.

From a longer-term perspective, upskilling and reskilling existing people is a more sustainable way of developing organisational capability, particular for organisations operating in fast growth sectors where it’s often difficult to hire necessary skills.

How to get started

Here are five ways to understand skills gaps and leverage your existing workforce.

1. Map the skills profile of your existing workforce and the gap between the skills required by the business over the short, medium, and long-term. This gap analysis will enable you to identify areas where additional activity will be required to reach business goals and drive performance.

2. Build talent mobility, so that your people are encourages to explore opportunities across the organisation rather than remaining stuck in their departmental or location-based silos. A move to project-based organisational structures may help with this.

3. Get better at understanding fit, and how to support internal candidates with 90% of the required skill set to acquire the remaining 10%. Then deliver relevant learning where it’s needed.

4. Provide learning focussed on a specific business context. It may be easier to combine formal learning with informal cross-pollination of knowledge and skills from existing colleagues. This can take the form of practical micro-learning activities that help colleagues develop their skills, understanding of specific work processes, practice their new skills and develop mastery over time.

5. Tap into subject matter experts within your organisation will also provide them with developmental and motivational opportunities to enhance their own prospects and productivity.

Maximising impact

Time and money spent on developing your existing team will demonstrate a high return-on-investment compared to hiring fresh talent, regardless of attraction methodology.

Similarly, developing existing people who understand and thrive within your organisation, eliminates the risk of mis-hires and cultural mismatch that can occur when bringing new people onboard.

Reallocating budget to provide targeted formal training alongside informal workplace training offers the most cost-effective way of developing existing talent to close skills gaps.

External training ensures your employees get the best tuition rather than being led by how things currently operate and provides the sense of investment that makes colleagues feel valued.

Internal coaching and support will maximise the pace at which colleagues can master new skills and ensures vital business context is applied to their learning.

If your organisation would benefit from additional perspective on how best to leverage the skills of your existing team to make sure your organisation has the full range of skills required for the year ahead, please contact Chris Hodson or Zoe Niven for an exploratory conversation.