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7 Ways to Close Your Company Skills Gap

As the baby boomers retire in increasing numbers and fewer individuals are seeking employment, many companies are finding it harder and harder to fill their open positions with candidates who have the specific set of skills that they need. This creates a “skills gap” between the range of skills companies need their employees to possess and the individuals who have these skills in the available job candidate pool. And, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this skills gap is only expected to grow in the near future. [1] So, how can companies adjust to this new reality and close their own company skills gap? The following seven approaches are a great way to start, and TPG HR Services USA can help you with each one.

1. Recruit From a Wider Pool of Applicants

Even in today’s tight labor market, certain demographics are often ignored by traditional recruiting strategies. By identifying and specifically targeting these groups in your recruitment drives, you oftentimes find highly-skilled candidates that your competitors will miss. However, sometimes this approach requires a company to challenge their assumptions about specific groups of job candidates before they can proceed and decide if existing hiring policies or tendencies are based upon solid facts or outdated assumptions.

Does your applicant pool include:

  • Veterans?

  • Returnees to the workforce?

  • People with disabilities?

  • Retirees?

  • Freelance workers?

Depending on your needs and past recruiting practices, this expanded applicant pool can include workers such as veterans without civilian work experience in your field, people returning to work after taking a long break due to family responsibilities, individuals with a criminal record, people with disabilities, older workers who may have retired from full-time employment, freelance workers, recent immigrants, and individuals who have been out of the job market for extended periods of time. TPG HR Services USA can help you review your current employee population and recruiting strategies to help you broaden your applicant pool when you recruit for open positions. We can also connect you to the services of our sister companies, TPG Staffing and Mary Pomerantz Advertising, for further recruitment assistance.

2. Focus on “Must-Have” Skills During Recruitment

We all have a wish-list of qualifications that we would love our new hires to have for specific open positions at our companies, but are all of these “requirements” really necessary for a given position? Sometimes, job descriptions are written based upon the collection of skills the previous candidate possessed instead of looking at what skills and experience are truly “requirements” for the position. Other times, official job requirements don’t evolve as technology changes and makes certain skills less important than others, resulting in a skills gap of a company’s own making.

“Are all of these “requirements” really necessary for a given position?”

By focusing on only the truly “must-have” skills for each position, you can increase the numbers of applicants tremendously, enabling you to pick and choose from a larger group of candidates, instead of disqualifying huge numbers of individuals who might have actually been great fits for your organization. This approach also makes it more likely for you to bring onboard new employees who have skills you may not have considered relevant that turn out to be quite helpful as the field or position changes in the future. The staff at TPG HR Services USA, as independent professionals outside of your organization, can prove invaluable in the process of winnowing down your job requirements to those that are intrinsically necessary for each position. This, in turn, will help you to recruit the best possible candidates who are highly-qualified in the skills that your positions genuinely require.

3. Hire to Fit Work Culture & Build Skills Later

Employees are not robots, and often their people skills and ability to fit into an existing team are more critical than the package of “hard” skills they bring to a position. According to Jim Link, Chief Human Resources Officer of Randstad North America, “Companies are realizing there’s more to being a good worker than simply knowing how to do a job or having a particular skill set.” [2] If a job candidate is open to on-the-job training and demonstrates a positive attitude and ability to work as part of a team, they can often be a great long-term hire, even if they lack certain required skills initially.

“There’s more to being a good worker than simply knowing how to do a job or having a particular skill set.”

However, companies that wish to employ this approach need to ensure that they have the resources in place to provide the necessary on-the-job training and the time allotted for this training to be acquired in addition to the employee’s work responsibilities. TPG HR Services can be a great help in this regard. Our staff has the HR expertise to identify candidates who would be a good fit for your company culture, while also setting up opportunities for them to develop the skills they need to succeed in their positions over the long term. Your staff can concentrate on their day-to-day priorities while we make sure that all new hires gain the skills they need to fully contribute to your team’s success. We can also ensure that “fitting in with your culture” doesn’t inadvertently result in discriminatory hiring results.

4. Provide Training to Enable Job Transitioning

Training can be critical for ensuring that your employees have the skills they need to perform at a high level in their current positions. But, truly effective training also enables you to flexibly respond to changing business conditions. Unfortunately, many companies don’t use training in a proactive fashion. According to the Workmonitor Q3 report from Randstad, 67% of employees say they need more training to stay current or prepare for future needs, but their employees aren’t providing or paying for it. [3]

It is understandably difficult for companies to focus on training for future needs when there are always current, pressing responsibilities to address. That’s where TPG HR Services USA can help. By partnering with us, our team members can periodically review the areas and levels of training of your staff and help you ensure that your employees are prepared for any restructuring or transitioning of your workforce that may be necessary and avoid a skills gap in your future. In this way, your staff can quickly adjust to any newly created roles within your organization by already possessing the skills required to perform their new responsibilities.

pie chart showing a sad worker who needs more job skills training

5. Use Untraditional Methods to Train Staff

Although formal workplace training can be critical to maximize productivity and prepare for future needs, many companies find it difficult to provide training, particularly in some of the traditional classroom-based ways. According to a recent online survey conducted by Ipsos, nearly a third (31%) of employed adults surveyed say they don't receive any formal workplace training. [4] In addition, these levels of workplace training vary dramatically when other factors are taken into account. The bar graphs below show how common formal workplace training is among different segments of the working population.

bar chart showing correlation between workplace training and employee retention

Untraditional training methods such as online training sessions and testing can be a helpful way to improve the skills of your workforce and enable them to quickly adapt to changing priorities. At TPG HR Services, we can help you set up and implement a variety of untraditional training programs for your employees without saddling you with extra tasks or oversight responsibilities. You can count on us to sharpen your employees’ skills and prepare them for the challenges that the future may bring.

6. Improve Wages & Benefits

Case Study:

Lowe’s Wage & Benefit
Improvements

  • $1,000 one-time bonuses to hourly workers
  • 10 weeks of paid maternity leave
  • 2 weeks of paid parental leave
  • $5,000 in adoption assistance
  • Enrollment in health benefits from the first month of employment [5]

When faced with difficulty recruiting candidates with the skills you need for your open positions, one tried-and-true approach is still very effective: improving wages and benefits. Recently, even retail companies known for keeping wages and benefits low (such as Walmart, Amazon & Lowe’s) have announced bonuses, higher wages and enhanced benefits such as paid parental leave in an effort to recruit new employees and retain their current team members. [5] The tightening labor market is certain to place upward pressure on wages and benefits packages across the board, fueling the skills gap and making it even more difficult to recruit candidates with the skills you need in the future if you do not ensure that the compensation you offer is competitive.

TPG HR Services USA can conduct an independent analysis of your current salary and benefit offerings to help you determine if you need to improve them for any positions in order to remain competitive in the race for talent. We can also conduct employee surveys to identify any areas of concern among your current staff that may be having a negative impact on your recruiting and retention efforts. This is an area where it is particularly helpful to have an external partner so that employees feel confident that they can answer questions openly and honestly without fear of reprisal.

7. Move Operations to High Quality Labor Markets

The supply of job candidates skilled in specific areas is not spread out evenly across the country or even in particular regions. Oftentimes the proximity of a university or the legacy of an existing industry serves to create a large supply of trained job candidates in a specific field in a particular geographic area. Examples of this phenomenon include Silicon Valley for the tech industry or Detroit during the heyday of the American auto industry, among others. If your business is looking to hire these candidates, it can sometimes make business sense to relocate your operations to where the talent you need resides. Of course, moving your entire business can be a difficult and likely expensive proposition.

map of U.S> showing states with big industries

Fortunately, there are other less extreme options that can accomplish the same task. Once you identify areas that are home to many of the professionals you seek to recruit, you could set up smaller satellite locations in these areas. You could also use modern communication technology to create work-from-home arrangements that might be very attractive to job seekers in these locations. At TPG HR Services USA, we have helped many of our clients develop creative solutions to tap into reservoirs of highly skilled talent who may not be in the immediate vicinity of their company locations, and we can help you conquer the skills gap by doing the same.

Close Your Company Skills Gap with Help from TPG HR Services

If you are finding it more difficult to fill your open positions with highly-skilled candidates, you are not alone. Many companies are facing the same problem, and this skills gap is only expected to get worse in the near future. However, by partnering with a company like TPG HR Services USA, you can take concrete steps on a variety of fronts to ensure that your organization always has access to the best qualified employees to fuel your growth and profitability. Call us at 732-917-6000 to get started today!

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