Fixing the Gap in Skill Level without Hiring or Firing

By CEO of Mettl, Ketan Kapoor

Even though hiring activity has improved in recent months many executives have reported how difficult it’s been to fill highly-skilled and upper-management positions. Employers who seek out stronger talent end up eliminating employees who bring little to the table, in exchange for new employees who require additional time and training. I believe we can fix this gap in skill level without always resorting to more hiring and firing, if we start by investing in the employees we already have. In fact, some of your very best talent could be sitting right in front of you, untapped.

Here are four ways to fix your organization’s dire need for highly skilled employees, without finding new workers:

Don’t give up on training. Time and time again, organisations will hire new employees and throw them into an intense training process from day one. However, after the initial training time passes, these new employees are left to find their own way. Continue training throughout employees’ first few months and even years to fine-tune the skills you need to keep your organisation running. Use learning metrics to determine key performance areas, assess training needs and gauge leadership traits for promotion or lateral opportunities for employees. Your best-trained employees might be your best candidates for future upper management positions.

Hold employees to a higher standard. Even your high-performing employees should be subject to testing to determine their skill level. Consider frequent assessments for employees at each level to ensure they continue to propel within your company. Regular testing will require employees to seek training and guidance from upper management and their peers, and will hold everyone to a higher standard of excellence. With consistent testing, you’ll gain stronger insight into those employees who might be a candidate for an upper management position, and you can begin thinking about their long-term potential and plan accordingly.

Encourage certification. As an assessment provider, I’ve seen firsthand how certification can improve skill-level within an organisation, and reveal major insights on strong and weak areas. Certification technology today enables companies to create customised online certification programs that automate test construction, administration and validation, which means organisations of any shape and size can reliably and securely certify candidates, no matter where they’re located. Choose your employee certification program based on the specific skills you seek in employees. By proctoring the certification process, you’ll gain insight into gaps in training, hiring and skills-training, and can improve these areas to increase skill-level across your team.

Encourage non-traditional education. Employees who are considering doubling up on work while continuing their education might not realise alternative options do exist. For example, completing a certification program to obtain new computer skill, or completing a MOOC to become an expert on one distinct topic, are great alternatives to achieving new skills while still focusing on a career. Make these options available by informing your employees that flexible educational opportunities do exist outside of returning to a traditional school.

Change the new hire process. Cognizant, a leading IT infrastructure and business consulting company, was in search of a talented CXO and with helpt from Mettl, launched a “CXO” challenge by creating a highly interactive online contest. The contest was run across 27 business schools and had over 2,300 students participating from around the world. These candidates were tested using innovative simulation exercises, puzzles, and analyses coupled with psychometric analysis. Not only did this unorthodox new hire method increase candidate engagement and excitement, but it also gave Cognizant a way to compare top performers and gain insight on candidates’ potential to work within the already-established company culture.

Fixing the gap in skill level doesn’t always mean hiring new employees or getting rid of the old ones. Don’t discount the potential your current employees have to become part of your upper management team, or bring the skills you’re looking for to the table. By offering alternative certification, training and educational programs, your need for highly skilled workers can be met without onboarding new employees, or requiring your current team to log classroom hours.

About the Author

Ketan is an engineer from IIT- Roorkee (1997-2001) and an MBA from IIM Calcutta (2002-2004).

Before co-founding Mettl, Ketan was responsible for marketing at ‘Isango’ – a start-up which is today one of the world’s largest collection of tours, trips & activities. He was also instrumental in setting up the eco-system for India’s first mobile payment & transaction platform at Indepay networks. Ketan brings a lot of focus, drive and energy to the team.

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