3 Ways to Close the Employee Skills Gap in the Workplace

By November 7, 2018 No Comments
Close Employee Skills Gap TTA

Employee retention is at an all-time low and, coincidently, unemployment is at the lowest point in over half a century. A study by the Work Institute estimated that 42 million, or one in four, employees would leave their jobs in 2018, and that nearly 77% of that turnover could be prevented by employers.[i] These statistics are concerning for many organizations, but they can also be the catalyst for tremendous change. Change in the way organizations hire, and also in how they train employees. Today, organizations must strategically find the balance between hiring candidates with the necessary skill sets and hiring candidates with the capacity to learn and develop new skills. By focusing on training, organizations will close the skills gap, encourage engagement, and lower the likelihood of turnover.

Here are 3 ways to close the employee skills gap in the workplace.

On-the-Job Training

The first way to close the employee skills gap in the workplace is to provide on-the-job training. On-the-job training is often thought to be just about hard skills, but it’s much more. Today, many organizations are focusing on candidates’ soft skills. Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of People Operations, said in an interview that they look for very specific traits. Bock said, “Emergent leadership: The idea there being that when you see a problem, you step in and try to address it. Then you step out when you’re no longer needed. That willingness to give up power is really important.”[ii] Candidates with strong soft skills will typically also have the capacity for learning and can learn to develop hard skills. When organizations provide on-the-job training in areas such as leadership training, communication training, and even problem solving, employees are given real-time experiences to learn from.

Career Development

A second way to close the employee skills gap in the workplace is to provide career development. A recent survey found that offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position.[iii] Dr. Tracey Wilen, Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute, recommends, “Investigate short- and long-term skill requirements. If your goal is to become the Vice President of Human Resources, understand the education, skills, technology, and experience requirements, and develop interim career plans for achieving your long-term career goal.”[iv] Managers should meet with employees and map out milestones and realistic expectations for growth. This way employees are getting the learning and development they need to succeed.


A third way to close the employee skills gap in the workplace is to provide coaching. Coaching focuses on helping an employee learn in ways that will allow them to keep growing after their problem or question is revealed. Bill Gates, the principal founder of Microsoft, said, “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.”[v] Coaching is based on asking questions, rather than providing the solution. It is provoking thought and holding them accountable for the outcomes.[vi] Coaching provides employees the opportunity for real-time learning and allows room for development in their roles.


[i] “WORK INSTITUTE RELEASES NATIONAL EMPLOYEE RETENTION REPORT.” Work Institute, workinstitute.com/about-us/news-events/articleid/2259/2018%20retention%20report

[ii] Dishman, Lydia. “The Skills It Takes To Get Hired At Google, Facebook, Amazon, And More.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 24 June 2016, www.fastcompany.com/3061237/the-skills-it-takes-to-get-hired-at-google-facebook-amazon-and-more
[iii] Carter, Brandon. “2018 Employee Engagement & Loyalty Statistics.” The Access Perks Employee Benefits Blog, blog.accessperks.com/2018-employee-engagement-loyalty-statistics#1
[iv] Heathfield, Susan M. “5 Tips to Improve Your Career Development.” The Balance Careers, www.thebalancecareers.com/improving-career-development-4058289
[v] “Bill Gates Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bill_gates_626251
[vi] Frankovelgia, Candice. “The Key To Effective Coaching.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 June 2013, www.forbes.com/2010/04/28/coaching-talent-development-leadership-managing-ccl.html#5309db7d38e0