Human capital, a company’s largest asset and also expense, is the modern corporate chicken-and-egg dilemma.  While companies spend millions or even billions of dollars building an employer brand or recruiting to fill open positions, they are just filling a leaky bucket as good employees leave organizations, hurting company productivity and earnings more than ever before.

The elephant in the office is a piece of your company’s retention plan you might not expect.  So, while HR is mandating employee focus group meetings and annual employee surveys, the skills gap problem quietly and yet obviously looms at your workplace.  Let’s train and develop our employees.

This year, 75 percent of employees surveyed by Cornerstone OnDemand said they had not received training and development to better perform their role in the past six months.  This seems counter-intuitive to me, since companies are spending an enormous amount of time, money, and effort to woo top candidates and qualify employees, only to forget to develop and train employees after the new-hire honeymoon ends.  A balance between recruitment and retention has to be found.

Employee retention and skills training takes work.  There is also no guarantee.  Just like any type of investment, there is a risk and nothing is certain.  What is certain is that pouring more money into your employee recruitment efforts while ignoring employee development and training programs lowers common hiring and recruitment metrics like cost-per-hire and time-to-fill.
Certainly, a company needs to leverage pre-employment hiring strategies to better improve the quality of hire, but equally important is the need to continue to engage, focus, and develop that employee after he or she has settled in.

Employee skills testing, skill evaluation and training programs, in addition to your company success plan, can work together toward creating a learning and development process that is catered to each individual knowledge worker and employee.  It really has to happen and now, especially since only 19 percent of those same employees said that their employer’s performance review helped them increase their potential through education and training.

  • Open the Lines of Communication.  Talk to your employees.  Sit down with them for individual one-on-one’s at a minimum of once a month.  Let them guide the conversation, and you do the listening.  Establish a punch list of things to accomplish or follow-up on before your next one-on-one meeting.
  • Provide Feedback.  Tell them how they are doing on the job.  Are they meeting your expectations? And what can they do better to help you achieve your department’sgoals?
  • Send Your Employees to Training.  Whether it’s a company training program or an outside training and development class offered by a university or local vocational school, send them there.  A little interest, caring, and love goes a long way.  It doesn’t have to break the bank.  Give your employees a reason to stay, so they can continue to grow and develop their skills.

The challenge with addressing the skills gap and the elephant in the room is that as a boss or manager, there is risk.  Sticking your neck out for your team and muddying up the waters takes guts, but I guarantee that your direct reports will pay you back in full, improving employee productivity and lowering turnover. This will make your job easier in the long term. I guarantee it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

2 Comments

  • Avatar Ursula says:

    You talk about skills gaps, but how do you know when to perform the tests for such problem? Or how often? How do you handle skills gaps with management personnel?

  • Avatar Preston Lundgren says:

    I have never been part of a company where the HR sits and talks one on one with the employees once per month. Is that something that people do, or is it like a best scenario kind of thing? Because I don’t quite see is happen too often. I mean, I do my best to stay in touch with the general feel of things from my company, but we are definitely understaff to talk to people like that.

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