Most organizations have a strategy for the future. This plan allows organizations to grow and evolve as the market and society at large changes. However, these strategies for the future often don’t include HR and talent decisions.
Most companies hire for their needs now but few look to identify the talent needs of the future. Research from Gartner shows that 64% of HR leaders don’t think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs. To ensure your organization is positioned to succeed hire and develop talent to meet future skills and competencies demands.
Identify Future Skill Needs and Skill Gaps
Work across functions within your organization to take stock of what the future of your industry will look like. What changes do you expect regarding client demand, work processes, supply chain, technology, working from home, etc.? The goal is to determine what skills will be required in 5-10 years.
Research done by Oracle and Future Workplace found that nearly half of workers today use some form of A.I. in their daily work. This number has increased from 32% in 2018. Gartner predicts that by 2021 nearly a quarter of will workers will use some form of virtual employee assistant daily. This is an increase from less than 2% in 2019. This rapid growth in new technologies illustrates the quick evolution of skills required for employees.
Compare these future skills against your current employee’s capabilities and identify where they are deficient. One method to fill these gaps is with new talent so that the organization has the people in place to change and grow with the new skill requirements.
Closing the Skills Gap with Soft Skills
When identifying skills needed for the future it is important to not just consider hard technical skills such as coding or accounting; but to also consider softer skills such as emotional IQ, strategic thinking, adaptability, and collaboration for example. These skills are often much more difficult to train and develop but often are found in high performing employees. Soft skills generate strong employees that can work across functions to build relationships and get work don’t efficiently.
While important, soft skills are more difficult to test for in current employees and potential candidates. One way to try and identify soft skills is to ask effective questions that get to the heart of these soft skills. When asking questions in an interview use behavioral and situational questions. Behavioral questions are open ended and allow candidates to use their individual experience to answer the questions.
Situational questions are hypothetical situations based on situations the candidate might face if they took the job. Using these type of questions, try to uncover the candidates skills in communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, critical thinking, work ethic, emotional intelligence, creativity, and other soft skills that would be important for you organization now and into the future.
Create a score card to evaluate candidates or current employees on their competencies. This score card should include both the hard, technical skills needed to complete the task today but also for the future. Additionally, include the soft skills candidates will need to be successful in the role.
How to Close the skill gap
With clearly defined skill gaps it is crucial to identify how you can start to close the gaps and develop future skills. With an understanding of your current skills and the skills you will need in the future you can begin to map out a path to the future. Meaning what are steps to take to evolve current skills into the skills needed in the future?
One strategy is hiring talent that already has the skills needed. This is a great way to plug in people that can do the job. However, that doesn’t account for all the talent already at the organization that might be lacking in skills. Additionally, companies can’t always just hire a new person to do a task.
Another way to develop these skills is on the job training. This training should be structured in a way so that employees are growing their skills in a way that shrinks the gap between current abilities and future needs. This training or continuous learning can be folded into the talent development program with the company to ensure that there is a constant development of skills.
Consider offering incentives for pursuing specific training or learning tracks. Target the type of development that will best help the organization and incentivize employees to pursue additional training and education in those areas. This will help current employees to develop skills best suited for the organization.
Additionally, look to use mentorship and hands-on coaching to develop needed skills. If there are a few people in the organization that have desired and needed skills for the future, have them mentor other employees. This hands-on personal approach can help to spread these skills to other employees to help shrink the skills gap.