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Human Resources

Vincent Belliveau (Europe) - Why Organizations Must Address the Impending Skills Shortage (Part 1)

Organizations are continuing to downsize, so employers might expect there to be an abundance of perfectly skilled candidates available for any role. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. A global shortage of skills in areas such as engineering, accounting, skilled trades, sales and executive/management functions is making it difficult to fill key roles – particularly at the right price.  As the recession ends and competition for talent increases, it will become even tougher to recruit and retain skilled people. The winners will be the companies that devise and implement the right strategies now to deal with this impending “skills crunch”.

Know what you need

The most effective organisations are meticulous about analysing the skills they need now and those they will need in the future, across each job role.  HR Managers cannot do this in isolation; the analysis must be undertaken in line with the organization’s short, medium and long term objectives and in conjunction with business managers.  If there are plans to move into new markets, what new skills are required? An external consultant may be helpful in identifying unknown needs. In addition, it needs to take into consideration intelligence like Manpower’s 2011 report into talent shortages , which will help to flag potential future skills gaps in a global talent market.  Finally, it is worth considering any information available on competitor activity; what positions are they recruiting for, what new appointments have they made recently and what they are offering to attract the best candidates?  This may flag gaps in the organization’s own skills and recruitment strategy.

Building bench strength

Once the organization’s needs are established, managers should compare those needs with the profiles of existing personnel to identify internal matches or employees who could develop the necessary skills.  The optimal strategy is to target learning, development, coaching and mentoring activities in order to build “bench strength” – a pool of talented employees with the right skills and abilities to fulfill every mission-critical role. This leaves the organization less vulnerable to disruptions in business continuity from employee turnover.

Onboarding is critical

Ideally, the organization will fill most of its needs internally as it is risky to rely upon external recruitment – the right candidates may not be available with the right skills at the right time and at a cost that is acceptable to the organization. However, even if strategies are put in place to develop internal employees, some skills gaps may remain. In this case, managers must recruit externally. An influx of fresh ideas from a new hire can help to boost immediate productivity, but care must also be taken to embed the new employee into the organization in order to deliver long term retention and achievement. Effective onboarding strategies and systems can help to automate the induction process for new starters or new managers, speeding their time to productivity and helping them adjust to the organization’s culture and practices.  In addition, this introduces them to the talent management processes and systems that will help to guide them along their career development path.

To attract and retain the best people, organizations need to be better than their competitors at empowering, motivating and improving the skills and abilities of new and existing employees to meet current and future skills needs, focusing on development-driven talent management and reducing the reliance on external recruitment.  An integrated talent management system offers managers and employees accurate, timely data to make informed decisions, but managers also need the vision to look beyond the current economic climate and address their talent shortages, before it is too late.

By Vincent Belliveau, Cornerstone OnDemand’s SVP & General Manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

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