Skills are a common language for talent professionals. More than ever, as strategic decisions are made about an organization's direction or objectives, the issue of whether or not the organization is equipped with the right skills becomes paramount to success.
As an HR leader focused on hiring, developing and retaining people with the skills your organization needs to stay competitive and drive long-term success, your talent program design for identifying, acquiring and nurturing these skills must span the entire people experience. Skills help define your hiring strategy, they underpin your coaching and performance model, and they are foundational to devising a strong learning and career development program. They should also give your organization insight into where you're strong, weak, or falling behind.
Identifying the Critical Skills to Your Organization
Every organization has a set of, or must identify a set of, critical skills that allow it to deliver organizational capabilities at scale. These skills should support your areas of differentiation and allow your organization to adapt to changes in your industry, compete effectively in your markets, and build a self-sustaining talent brand.
Before implementing any technology, identifying these skills is job one. You may consider a set of core competencies and skills required across the entire organization, or you may want to focus on pivotal areas of the business, defining strategic skills at a unit or department level. You'll also want to define desired proficiency levels for each group and job level.
This exercise is a significant amount of work and needs to be considered in strategic planning and in partnership with all executive leaders. But it's the fundamental first step in establishing which skills your organization needs to deliver on organizational success.
The rest of this article explores how you can use Saba's talent solutions to support your skills strategy from every angle.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once you've identified certain skills as being those most valued in your organization, Saba offers several ways to help you communicate these skills to your people – including what they are, why they were selected, and how they are defined.
This can be done directly from the home page, which can serve as a billboard for the vision, objectives and initiatives most critical to your organization.
Determine what skills you already have on the team
Before making decisions about strategy for recruiting or developing these skills, it's foundational to take stock of what skills you already have on the team. Once your organization's critical skills have been identified and communicated, before making decisions about how to ensure your organization is acquiring these skills – the quintessential build versus buy question – Saba can help you better understand the breadth and depth of the skills you already have on the team. Looking from the inside out is critical.
Conducting a skills assessment will give you an overview of skill proficiency across the entire organization. This can be done in an agile, ongoing manner, or as a more formal skills assessment process. Use behavioral indicators to make it clear how proficiency in this skill actually manifests itself in the work environment. Make it easy for people to see and understand these skills, assess them and keep them top of mind in their day-to-day jobs.
Analyze skill distribution
Once the skills assessments have been completed, it's time to review the results. Based on the initial step of defining the desired proficiency level for each skill, you can compare these individuals or groups against it for a strong baseline of where you're at in terms of internal capability. Radar charts are especially helpful for visualizing this.
This view can show the aggregate of the entire employee base or can be refined to display data based on geography, department, demographics, or many other potentially relevant dimensions. This information will be crucial as you make your next decisions about how to close any skill gaps.
Close the gaps
When working to close the gaps, talent leaders need to consider their fundamental options – and it's not an either /or proposition. A long-term strategic approach is to build internal capability through skills development, upskilling or reskilling initiatives. At the same time, recruiting for scarce skills must be part of the strategy. The skill set you're looking for may not exist internally or you may only need the required skill set for a short period of time. This will require a "buy or borrow" skills approach, which is why recruiting is so important in the skills gap equation.
Let's start from the beginning and explore how Saba can help you communicate and assess skills throughout the entire talent journey, starting with recruitment.
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Building a Stronger, More Agile Workforce
Incorporate skills in talent acquisition
Often the decision about the type of skills you want to add to the team comes down to the type of work. If you're augmenting your internal skill set over the long term, you'll likely be hiring for permanent, full-time roles. But you may also need to recruit for a short-term project or assignment. The fact that the "gig economy" has transformed workplace models works in your recruiting team's favor – especially with Saba's talent acquisition capabilities. Regardless of whether you are hiring full-time, part-time or contingent workers to add new skills to your team, you can and should be able to do this in one system.
Assess and communicate skills during the recruiting process
Just as with internal employees, when bringing on new people externally, you can use Saba's fully customizable careers pages and job posting capabilities to showcase the skills that make a difference to your organization. You can even do this by using Saba to directly embed video within the system onto your careers page, or right into the job posting highlighting the skills important to the role and the company. You can also use video applications to help assess softer skills such as communication or interpersonal skills at a much earlier stage of the application process.
Source candidates with a skills-led process
When sourcing candidates that have the desired skills you want to add to the team, you can search for these skills from a variety of sources using Saba. Saba's sourcing capabilities use the power of machine learning and semantic search technology to allow you to search existing applicants within the system, as well as social sites and job boards, for the right skills profiles.
Integrate skills into the candidate selection process
With a healthy pool of candidates, identifying the best fits early in the process can greatly speed up the time to hire. Sorting through a large candidate pool can be daunting, so "tag" candidates based on their skill sets to keep things organized and add them to skill pools for later reference. Candidates can also be measured early on during the application process: Application questions can be tailored to automatically add candidates to particular skill pools or sort them by skill level, taking the sorting work out of the equation.
When it comes time to engage with the candidate, being able to assess their proficiency in various skills is paramount. After all, a CV can only tell you so much. You'll compare candidates more effectively by taking in as much data about them as possible. With Saba, you can use pre-hire assessments to evaluate critical skills during the recruiting process. You can also use video to help interviewers gain a more complete look at "soft skills." With all those inputs, you'll be able to more accurately evaluate whether the candidate can fill the skill gap.
Showcase new hires' skills and connect them with the team
It's important to give your new hires an opportunity to share their experience and skills with other team members, as well as to allow them to connect with other experts in their area.
Saba's rich talent profiles give your new hires and existing employees an opportunity to do just that. They can also search for people with similar skills and interests, follow them, and connect with them.
Connect skills to performance objectives
Whether they're new to your business or have been there for years, it's important for your people to be able to set goals aligned to your organization's objectives. It provides meaning and purpose to their day-to-day work and demonstrates that what they are doing is helping move the needle on the business. Saba lets your people connect these goals to the skills they require to achieve them. This provides them and their managers an opportunity to identify where there is a skill development opportunity that will help them not only achieve the goal but grow personally, leading to better outcomes for each individual and for the business.
Create development goals
It's also valuable to set goals that are specifically focused on an individual's development in a particular area. While similar to other goals, creating specific development goals will ensure the skills development piece does not get buried under other tasks and day-to-day details. It elevates skills development to the same level and attention as performance goals and sets employees up for success with a robust, documented plan complete with milestone dates, tasks, learning, skills, resources and metrics.
Check in and stay connected
Of course, none of this should be done in isolation. Managers and employees should be having ongoing conversations that touch on goals, skills and development. Managers should play a role in coaching their employees, guiding and supporting their development, encouraging them to take on tasks and projects that will improve their skills, working with them to overcome challenges, tracking progress and of course celebrating successes along the way. Regular check-in meetings are a great way to keep all of these topics in play and keep employees and managers on the same page when it comes to development. Saba also provides a customizable library of coaching and conversation starters to help your managers talk about skills during the discussion.
Enable relevant learning and collaboration
Once a collaborative exchange has helped identify the skills an employee wants to acquire or strengthen, Saba provides multiple ways to help your people develop and apply those skills. You can support this development by mapping those skills to high-quality learning and development content and using a variety of approaches to suit everyone's unique learning styles and needs.
High-quality content can come in the form of content created by and for the organization, content shared internally by experts, content from third-party vendors, or even external web sources like videos, articles, online courses and blogs. When these content sources are linked to skills, it allows for more focused learning by providing clear learning objectives that are relevant to the individual's development goals and the organization's objectives. It also enables the learner to be more efficient and effective in their learning.
Instead of sifting through the plethora of learning content out there, the most relevant learning can be automatically recommended based on the skills identified within a goal.
Learning can easily be discovered with search capabilities or even intelligently recommended based on personal skills and interests.
In addition to facilitating the consumption of learning content, Saba also enables all of your people to connect with colleagues in the organization that possess certain skill strengths as well. You can enable collaboration through skills-based communities of interest or working groups where people can chat, blog, share and learn from one another.
Focus on the future
With Saba, your employees can not only build on the skills they need in their current role, but they can also discover clear paths that show them how to get from where they are today to where they want to go. Underpinning these paths with skills allows individuals to see what skills are required for future desired roles, what proficiency level they're at today, and what proficiency level they would need to be at to perform that role. Most importantly, it also allows employees to connect to recommended learning and people within the organization that can help them achieve that proficiency and move along their desired path.
Give support and recognition
To achieve a culture of development and growth throughout the organization, support, coaching and recognition for the skills being demonstrated and developed are critical. Saba gives you the flexibility to use feedback and impressions customized to recognize the skills and behaviors that are important to your organization.
With Saba, you can embed the skills that are critical to your organization's success throughout the entire people experience. Not only does this allow you to recruit highly skilled people, but it also helps you ensure your employees can perform, innovate, and grow in the areas important to the company. This approach to skills success will support your areas of differentiation and allow you to adapt to changes in your industry, compete effectively in your markets, and build a self-sustaining brand for talent.
If you're ready to learn more, book a personalized demo today.