Internal Mobility: Filling Skills Gaps with Your Existing Workforce 

With labor shortages and intensifying talent scarcity, hiring challenges are only increasing, impacting all industries. To tackle these hiring difficulties, many leaders look to external solutions like expanding their talent pool or enhancing their employer brand. However, one of the most effective and sustainable solutions is already inside your organization. Developing existing employees through internal mobility is key to filling skills gaps now and in the future. 

Keep reading to learn more about internal mobility, why internal mobility programs are crucial for future success and how you can leverage reskilling and upskilling programs to facilitate internal mobility at your organization.  

What is Internal Mobility? 

The goal of internal mobility is to match your existing talent to open positions through internal transfers, job rotations, secondments and promotions. An internal mobility program is a structured process that facilitates the movement of employees, both vertically to higher or lower positions as well as laterally between roles at the same level. These programs are often anchored in reskilling and upskilling initiatives focused on developing employees’ skills and capabilities to meet evolving organizational needs. 

Reskilling programs aim to provide training to help employees gain new skills that allow them to transition into different roles or business areas. For example, a finance employee can reskill to learn data analytics and move into a business intelligence role. 

Upskilling programs focus on building additional skills and competencies related to an employee’s current role or expanding their knowledge in their field. For example, a marketing manager can upskill their digital marketing capabilities in social media and digital advertising platforms to take on a more strategic role in the department.  

The Benefits of Internal Mobility 

A strategic focus on internal mobility provides both talent management and bottom-line benefits for an organization, including: 

  • Improved employee retention and engagement: Providing clear paths for career development and advancement within the company increases employee satisfaction and loyalty. Employees feel valued and motivated when they see opportunity for upward or lateral mobility. 
  • Stronger talent pipeline: An internal mobility program creates a robust pipeline of qualified candidates for open roles from within. According to research from LinkedIn, organizations that leverage skills-first hiring expand their talent pool by nearly 10x on average compared to those simply looking for similar job titles or industry experience.  
  • Cost savings: It is typically more cost effective to fill a position internally rather than externally recruit, onboard and train new hires. Internal mobility is a strategic talent management approach. 
  • Improved performance: Internal candidates have organizational and cultural knowledge, so they are often able to transition and ramp up faster in new roles. Data from Spotted Zebra shows that internal movers reach competence 20% faster than external hires and are twice as likely to be rated as top performers in their role. 
  • Improved diversity: Internal mobility provides opportunities for improved representation and diversity in leadership by developing and advancing talent from within. 
  • Agility and flexibility: Having an internal bench of qualified candidates enables organizational agility to swiftly mobilize talent to meet emerging needs. 

The Lack of Investment in Internal Mobility Programs 

Despite the benefits, internal mobility is not being prioritized by most HR leaders. Given the challenges recruiting skilled talent, we expected to see internal mobility as HR leaders’ default strategy to tackle skills shortages. However, through our research report, The Skills Crisis Countdown, we found that nearly a third (30%) of HR leaders admitted they simply do not view reskilling and upskilling as a priority and only 37% of organizations have formal reskilling and upskilling programs in place. Even in areas of high priority like technology advancement, there appears to be a lack of focus on mobility and development. When we asked HR leaders about how they’re preparing their workforce for the implementation of new technologies, only a fifth (20%) said they’re investing in upskilling initiatives to enhance current employee technological skillsets.  

The lack of skills development is echoed by employees. A quarter of employees report their employer has not been offered opportunities to upskill or reskill. A third (34%) of workers have doubts about how their skills will keep pace with new technology and automation. With transformations on the horizon for many roles due to technological advancements, ensuring employees’ skills evolve along with their jobs is essential for organizations.  

The Key to Internal Mobility: Reskilling and Upskilling 

Ongoing reskilling and upskilling of employees is crucial to enabling effective internal mobility. As business needs evolve and new technologies emerge, employees’ skills and competencies must also progress to keep pace. Providing internal development opportunities allows employees to gain the updated capabilities required for critical roles, increasing their eligibility and readiness to transition into new positions. By making learning core to the culture, reskilling and upskilling initiatives ensure organizations can source top talent from within. 

Implementing Successful Upskilling 

For your upskilling programs, you need an accurate understanding of your employees’ current skills and future needs. Our research showed most HR leaders rely on subjective manager feedback rather than taking a data-driven approach. 

To get ahead of emerging skills gaps, perform a skills audit and compare that to how your existing roles will evolve in the coming years. Identify both the competencies your employees need to be effective in their roles as they develop into the future and any deficiencies they have now.  

Once you understand the lay of the land, you can develop continuous upskilling initiatives to grow your employees’ high-value skills over time in alignment with technological advancements. Proactively upskilling employees will keep your workforce on the cutting edge of skill set transformations. 

Implementing Successful Reskilling 

Reskilling programs also require an understanding of the existing capabilities of your workforce and the required competencies for emerging roles. This allows you to accurately match employees to opportunities they can transition into successfully. 

Rather than relying on subjective manager interviews, utilize skills-based assessments. This provides data-driven insights into employees’ technical aptitudes and behavioral strengths. You can then align these skill profiles with the requirements of your new roles. 

For example, PeopleScout partnered with a global financial services company to take a skills-based approach for a major digital transformation initiative. By identifying the best candidates for reskilling, we helped employees move from declining customer service roles into new tech-focused positions, saving the company $2 million in exit costs and reduced training dropouts dramatically. The company gained the critical future-focused skills it required while providing career growth opportunities to its valuable existing employees. 

Internal Mobility & RPO: Your Partner in Sustainable Workforce Planning 

Over half (56%) of HR leaders report resistance to change within their organization when faced with the prospect of what they mistakenly believe can only be a huge, C-suite-led project that spans the entire talent lifecycle. However, as a leading RPO partner PeopleScout is perfectly positioned to provide the strategies and technology to embed and scale a skills-based approach. 

By leveraging an RPO provider’s expertise and resources, organizations can maximize the return on investment in internal mobility initiatives. According to Everest Group, over half of RPO engagements include some element of internal mobility. The RPO acts as a strategic talent advisor focused on improving talent mobility with strategies like: 

  • Skills gap analysis: An RPO provider can perform a skills audit to assess current capabilities versus required future skills and identify reskilling needs to inform development programs. They can also provide market intelligence to help you understand the skills available within your talent markets as well as salary requirements so you can make informed decisions.   
  • Internal candidate sourcing: Your RPO partner can source and screen internal candidates for open roles to identify top talent for mobility opportunities. 
  • Career mapping: RPO experts can map career paths, succession plans and competency requirements for critical roles to guide internal development. 
  • Development program design: An RPO provider can help design and implement reskilling, upskilling, job rotation and mentoring programs to build enterprise talent. Plus, they can administer and manage the end-to-end internal mobility program from sourcing to placement as well as provide project management. 
  • Change management: RPOs can provide guidance on change management strategies to gain buy-in and promote a culture of internal mobility. Plus, they’ll provide data, analytics and reporting on program effectiveness and opportunities to fine-tune strategies. 
  • Technology consultation and implementation: RPOs can recommend and implement skills management platforms and talent mobility platforms to enable seamless movement and track program metrics. 

Filling your organization’s talent gaps begins with the workforce already inside it. But this untapped talent potential can only be leveraged through strategic, skills-based internal mobility programs. Your existing workforce could provide the talent solution you’ve been searching for. By partnering with an RPO on reskilling and upskilling initiatives, you gain strategic expertise to build a future-ready, skilled workforce.  

Reskilling for Tech Roles Results in $2.5M in Savings for Global Bank

Reskilling for Tech roles Results in $2.5M in Savings for Global Bank

Talent Consulting

Reskilling for Tech roles Results in $2.5M in Savings for Global Bank

PeopleScout helped a global financial services company in their digital transformation efforts with a reskilling program to move employees from declining customer service roles to tech and digital roles.

150 customer service staff redeployed to tech roles in pilot program
5,000 more employees will be reskilled following the successful pilot
70 % reduction in reskilling cost-per-person achieved

Situation

A large global financial services company needed to undertake a major digital transformation program, which required new digital and tech skills. With the growth of online and digital channels, in-person transactions through bank branches and call centers have declined. The organization needed to acquire hard-to-find tech and digital skills to grow and maintain digital banking tools while leveraging the existing company knowledge of employees in declining customer service roles by reskilling them into new high-growth roles.

Reskilling efforts focused on developing new hard skills, so finding the best candidates meant identifying those with the soft skills most aligned with the new job opportunities. Previous efforts by the financial services organization to assess candidate suitability for reskilling were led internally and included multiple, time-consuming line manager interviews. Of even greater concern, around a quarter of those who began the reskilling
program dropped out.

Solution

As their long-term RPO partner, PeopleScout worked with the client and skills-platform provider Spotted Zebra to create a skills-based approach to reskilling, helping the organization to assess customer service staff in bank branches and call centers to find ideal candidates for its tech skilling program.

We identified individuals who had a strong motivation to reskill, high levels of adaptability (a predictor of future potential) and a strong alignment with the behavioral skills required for success in the role. A skills profile was created for all the growth roles, and employees were assessed against them to identify which role was the best fit.

Results

  • Through an initial pilot, the company redeployed over 150 people from declining roles who would have been made redundant to tech jobs, saving around $2.5 million in exit costs.
  • The company is expanding the reskilling program to move over 5,000 employees into new roles with one year.
  • By identifying those individuals who are a better behavioral fit for reskilling opportunities, the number of dropouts from the training program dropped dramatically, resulting in a savings of in training and development costs.
  • The new approach is more effective, simplifying the process in a fair and consistent way. The company has saved a considerable amount of manager time and reduced the reskilling cost-per-person by 70%.
  • Crucially, the reskilling program means the organization’s digital transformation project is on track, with reskilled individuals moving into mission-critical digital roles that would otherwise go unfilled.

At a Glance

  • COMPANY: Global financial services company
  • PEOPLESCOUT SOLUTIONS: Talent Advisory

The Skills Crisis is Coming: Are You Ready? [Infographic]

Skills in the workplace are evolving faster than ever thanks to advances in AI, the greening of the economy and shifting demographics. But, our latest research, The Skills Crisis Countdown, shows that HR leaders seem oblivious to the urgency of the coming change.

Nine out of 10 of HR pros surveyed said up to half of their workforce will need new skills within the next five years. Yet, only 7% are actively investing in reskilling programs right now, and 45% admit they have no plans underway to prepare their people for the shifting skills landscape.

Our data quantifies the massive disconnect between awareness of looming skills gaps and action being taken to reskill workers. Check out the infographic below to see the stats and get ahead of the curve on developing a future-ready workforce.

Green Jobs, Green Skills: Hiring for a Renewable Future 

The future of work is green. According to the United Nations, the global economy is undergoing a “greening,” as industries like energy, transportation and construction adopt more sustainable practices. That process could create 24 million more jobs globally by 2030, putting workers with green skills in high demand.  

However, supply has not kept up, even as the need for green skills spills into other industries like economics and finance, security, market and geopolitical analysis, communications, social sciences, and legal.  

In this article, we’ll explore the drivers for green jobs and the need for green skills, which green skills are in the highest demand and how employers can find and hire top green talent.  

What are Green Jobs? 

So, what qualifies as a “green job?” According to the International Labor Organization, “Green jobs reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials, limit greenhouse gas emissions, minimize waste and pollution, protect and restore ecosystems, and enable enterprises and communities to adapt to climate change.” 

Demand for green skills is outpacing the supply. According to LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report, between 2022 and 2023, job postings requiring at least one green skill rose 22.4% while the share of green talent in the workforce only grew 12.3%. 

hiring for green jobs is growing fast

What’s causing the shift? According to the World Economic Forum, many countries are working to achieve net zero by 2050. This means that both governments and businesses are driving the green transition.  

green job growth

So far, the majority of green job growth has come in some of the highest polluting industries, such as energy and transportation, and in some of the countries that produce the most greenhouse gases.  

The U.S., Germany and India, countries that emit some of the highest amounts of greenhouse gasses, are leading the way in green jobs. According to the World Economic Forum, Germany is adopting more green skills in the manufacturing industry, and the U.S. and India are outpacing other countries in both oil and gas and mining.   

120 

For every 100 workers who leave the renewable energy sector, 120 join. (LinkedIn) 

 

10X 

There were 10 times the number of green jobs in the U.S. compared to the fossil fuel industry by 2019. (Source) 

 

16.5M 

There are now 16.5 million electric vehicles on the road. (LinkedIn)
(Source: LinkedIn, Global Citizen, LinkedIn)

But the need for green jobs goes beyond installing solar panels and building electric vehicles. According to LinkedIn, one of the most important sectors in sustainability is finance, and it is lagging behind. In the fight against climate change, huge investments will need to be made in things like wind farms and electric vehicle charging stations, and financial professionals will be in the spotlight. Despite that, only 6.8% of finance workers globally have green skills. However, there are signs of change. Between 2021 and 2022, the percentage of green jobs in finance grew 17%. 

With increasing competition for green talent, employers need to have an in-depth understanding of the most in-demand green skills and how to attract, hire and train top talent.  

What are Green Skills?  

It is easy to mistakenly associate certain green skills to specific industries. Unlike the ability to set a broken bone, which will qualify a worker for a job in healthcare but isn’t relevant if they’re applying for a role with a law firm, green skills are different.  Think of green skills more like tech and digital skills in their ability to be applied across a wide range of industries. For example, carbon accounting, or estimating the carbon footprint of different organizations, can play an important role in a variety of industries, from consulting to waste management.  While there might be a concentration of workers with green skills in green industries, those skills are in demand across the global economy.  

According to LinkedIn, the fastest growing green skill in the EU is climate action planning. A climate action plan is “a framework document for measuring, tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and adopting climate adaptation measures.”  

Climate action plans exist for a variety of organizations. For example, they exist at the government level, including for U.S. states, for international organizations like the World Bank, Fortune 500 companies and more. This means employers are competing for candidates across industries.  

There are many green skills that are required for jobs in industries not considered green. For example, according to LinkedIn, a knowledge of energy efficiency could be necessary for roles like a plumbing engineer, utilities manager, vice president of facilities or HVAC specialist.   

So, what are the most in demand green skills? It depends on where you are. In the U.S., carbon accounting, drinking water quality and energy engineering are seeing some of the fastest growth. While in the EU, sustainability education and carbon emissions round out the top three after climate action planning.  

fastest growing green skills in the eurpean union
fastest growing green skills in the u.s.

How to Hire for Green Skills  

To meet their own hiring and sustainability goals, employers need to understand where to find candidates with in-demand green skills, how to attract them and how to train green-adjacent workers to help fill skills gaps. Here, we cover three options for employers struggling to fill green roles.  

1. Skills-Based Hiring  

Skills-based hiring sounds simple—hiring people based on skills rather than previous job titles. However, according to SHRM, it requires a commitment to change. Traditionally, many jobs list requirements like specific degrees or years of experience that are used to determine if candidates are ready to take on a role.  

According to one survey, more than 80% of employers believe they should prioritize skills over degrees. Yet, 52% are still hiring from degree programs because it’s considered a less risky choice. This means that especially in entry- and mid-level roles, candidates with the right skills could be overlooked for failing to meet these specific requirements.  

Research shows that adopting a skills-based hiring strategy can yield significant improvements to an organization’s talent acquisition program—increasing quality of hire, expanding the talent pool, increasing diversity and improving employee retention.  

Transitioning to a skills-based hiring process requires a culture change, a transformation in thinking from the top down—from senior leadership to hiring managers—andupdates to many aspects of the recruitment process.  

One of the most important steps is updating the screening or assessment process. Rather than eliminating candidates who lack certain degrees or years of experience, develop criteria and assessments that objectively measure the skills necessary for the job. Then, screen candidates in rather than screening them out. An RPO provider with talent advisory capabilities can assist organizations moving to a skills-based screening and assessment strategy. 

2. Green Adjacent Skills and Gateway Jobs 

Additionally, employers can build gateway jobs and look for candidates with green adjacent skills.  

Gateway jobs are roles that can serve as steppingstones and give workers the opportunity to gain the green skills they’ll need for a green career. According to the LinkedIn report, one example of a gateway job is in supply chain management. As the industry looks to reduce its carbon emissions, workers are developing the green skills to do the job, even though they may not have had them when they were hired. In fact, 41% of workers who move into gateway jobs have no prior green experience.  

An effective strategy for hiring candidates for these gateway roles is looking for green adjacent skills. These are skills that don’t necessarily fall under the green umbrella but would give the candidate the ability to do many functions related to the role. For example, candidates with STEM and digital skills can go a long way toward helping an organization reach its sustainability goals. Also, experience in industries currently undergoing a green transformation, like utilities, mining, transportation and agriculture can be applied to green jobs.  

How much more (or less) likely are workers who move into green and sustainability-related jobs to have certain skills?

To find these candidates, employers need a robust souring strategy to identify those with adjacent skills. The right technology solution can identify both active and passive candidates with specific skills, expanding the talent pipeline and predicting factors such as cultural fit, willingness to change companies and future tenure potential. 

3. Reskilling and Upskilling  

When hiring candidates with adjacent skills, employers must implement reskilling and upskilling programs to fill the skills gap.  

According to the World Economic Forum, nearly half of young workers believe they don’t have the right skillset to guarantee them an adequate job over the next decade. On top of that, sustainability transformations happen quickly, and without ongoing training, older workers could be left behind. The good news is that according to PwC, 77% of employees are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in response to new technologies in the workplace.  

Reskilling and upskilling can happen at a few different levels, from government programs to higher education and private employers. However, organizations shouldn’t just rely on external programs. By building effective reskilling programs, businesses invest in services tailored to developing their own workforce while also assisting the global need for more sustainable work.  

A Renewable Future 

Setting up a green, sustainable future is everyone’s responsibility. As the demand for green skills increases, employers need effective solutions for finding, hiring and training top green talent. RPO providers, especially those with talent advisory services, can be a valuable resource for talent leaders looking to revamp their recruiting programs for a renewable future.  

For more insights on green skills in the energy sector, download our ebook, The Recruitment Handbook for Energy and Utilities.

Tech & Digital Skills: 5 Recruitment Strategies for Closing the Skills Gap

There are a host of new and emerging tech disciplines—the metaverse, blockchain, generative AI, cybersecurity and more—that are changing the way we work and the kind of work we do. Many jobs that were previously done by humans are now done by machines. Many new jobs are emerging that require new and changing skill sets and organizations are struggling to find the talent they need to keep up as tech and digital skills gap grows.  

According to World Economic Forum, it is estimated that by 2030, “approximately 85 million jobs could go unfilled globally because of a lack of applicants with the skills to take them, which could result in $8.5 trillion (USD) in unrealized annual revenues.” 

Skills Shortage: Digital Age or Digital Deficiency? 

Salesforce’s 2022 Global Digital Skills Index surveyed 23,000+ workers across 19 countries and found the global digital skills readiness score is just 33 out of 100. No wonder that 64% of managers don’t think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs. Furthermore, 70% of employees say they haven’t even mastered the skills they need for their jobs today. Plus, a third (36%) of HR leaders say their sourcing strategies are insufficient for finding the skills they need. 

As organizations try to reinvent their business models to keep up with change, employers of all stripes—regardless of sector—must prepare their workforce for digital-first employment. By taking a skills-based approach to your talent acquisition strategy, you can move beyond your tired methods to find people with the right skills and competencies regardless of their degree or job history.  

Recruitment Handbook for Hiring Tech & Digital Talent

Measuring the Technology Skills Gap 

As an HR or TA leader, you’re probably asking, “Which digital and tech skills should I prioritize?” 

Well, it depends. 

To plan for the skills of the future, you must know where you are today. Conduct a skills inventory of current employees, regardless of department. Then, run a technology skills gap analysis, looking at what’s available now and what you’ll need in the future based on your organizational strategy.  

This, combined with external labor market data on the availability of tech and digital skills, you’ll be able to understand which critical skills gaps are in place today, what skills are available in the market and what skills you’ll have to develop internally. 

Only one in four talent analytics teams currently use external market data 

5 Skills-Based Talent Acquisition Strategies for Tech and Digital Talent 

Here are five strategies for closing the skills gap for your tech and digital roles. 

1. Assess for Adjacent Skills 

A crucial part of your skill inventory must be identifying skills adjacent to your critical skills which can be developed to bridge the gap. With the right capability and skills taxonomy in place—both for internal mobility and external hiring—you can tap talent with related skills to fill talent gaps through recruitment and upskilling.  

PeopleScout recently facilitated a reskilling project for a leading bank in the UK. We supported an evaluation of their customer service employees in call centers and bank branches to identify hidden skills. We evaluated hundreds of employees, surfacing many with complementary skills who are now involved in a development program to supply software engineering talent in the future.  

2. Don’t Overlook Candidates with Non-Traditional Backgrounds 

Identifying these complementary skill sets has the additional benefit of helping you surface non-traditional internal and external talent pools. These are candidates who possess the skills necessary to perform a role’s duties but may never have held a position with a tech or digital specific title. By taking a skill-based approach to tech and digital talent acquisition, you don’t limit yourself to a small talent pool with hard-to-find experience. This could also mean relaxing requirements around university degrees. Plus, it’s a great way to achieve diversity and social-mobility goals. 

technology skills gap

3. Develop Upskilling Opportunities 

Once you’ve found talent with adjacent skills, you’ll need an upskilling program to get them up-to-speed on their target role and for ongoing development of skills as new technology emerges. Learning and development programs are a great way to support cross-functional talent mobility. Plus, it can act as a big draw for recruitment, as more and more candidates say they value growth opportunities when considering a new job. According to the LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting report, Advancement and Skills Development are in the top five most important priorities for candidates.  

4. Embrace Global Expansion  

With the explosion of remote work, organizations can widen their talent search beyond their office locations. By shifting your focus to talent location and skill set, rather than your business footprint, you benefit from a more diverse talent pool. Leverage labor market data to find emerging tech hubs where demand is still low. For example, several cities in Latin America have a growing supply of digital skills with moderate salary expectations. 

5. Look Outside the IT Department for Tech & Digital Skills

Technology advancement means departments across the organization—and across sectors—have become breeding grounds for addressing the IT skills shortage. In fact, according to Gartner, almost 40% of job postings for talent with digital skills come from outside of IT departments. The explosion of FinTech, MarTech and even HRIS means that there’s a plethora of digital talent in finance teams, marketing teams and HR teams. So, instead of looking for a data scientist, why not try tapping a financial analyst to get those much-needed analytical skills? 

How an RPO Partner Can Help You Secure Tech and Digital Skills 

Employers looking to grow their tech and digital workforce can benefit from the services of a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider. Your RPO partner can help you adapt your attraction strategy to resonate with candidates with tech and digital skills, ensuring that you are sourcing talent with the required skills and identifying new ways to target candidates who fit these personas. Plus, an experienced RPO provider can assist you in building your talent pool from within your own organization, by consulting to develop an internal reskilling program. 

Get five proven strategies to attract, engage and hire the best tech professionals. Download our Recruitment Handbook for Hiring Tech & Digital Talent. 

Internal Mobility Skills Audit

One of the earliest and most important steps in the internal mobility process is identifying which employees within your organization should be targeted for internal roles based on skills, experience and willingness to explore new career paths. But, how can you be sure you know the full extent of the skills available within your organization?

An internal mobility skills audit enables you to understand where employee skills lie, as well as direct your employees’ training and development plans and your overall recruitment strategy.

What is an internal mobility skills audit?

An internal mobility skills audit is the process of assessing your employees’ skills and then identifying potential internal candidates for open positions based on knowledge, experience, skill sets and flexibility. By assessing the knowledge and skills that already exist within your workforce, you can help develop the careers of existing employees while simultaneously improving your retention rates and filling open roles faster.

Common employee skills include:

  • Technology and digital skills
  • Research skills
  • Quantitative skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Soft skills like emotional intelligence
  • Project management
  • Business acumen
  • Project management
  • Teamwork

Who is responsible for the internal mobility audit?

When it comes to an individual employee who is a candidate for an internal role, team leaders or managers should be responsible for conducting the audit of that employees’ skills. However, larger team analysis for multiple roles is usually done by team leaders, HR or external talent advisors.

Data Collection & Analysis

The goal of data collection and analysis in an internal mobility skills audit is three-fold: 1) to analyze which roles are open now; 2) to rate how important each role is; and 3) to inquire about the skills required to perform the role properly. Data collection and analysis activities can include:

Developing job profiles and identifying critical skills needed for each job role:

  • Review current job descriptions as a reference for the skills that are needed.
  • Consider the effect of upcoming organizational changes or future work trends (such as remote work) on the role.
  • Develop a list of competencies that most clearly and accurately describe what is necessary to do the work.

Conducting an inventory of your employees’ current skills:

  • Position descriptions
  • Job class specifications
  • Performance evaluations and employee assessments
  • Interviews/focus group meetings with supervisors, managers and employees 
  • Self-assessment surveys

As you might expect, it can quickly become difficult to manually keep track of each employee’s competencies and skill levels. Fortunately, talent technology can help you with the data collection process. For example, PeopleScout’s Affinix Internal Mobility can help you access an internal talent pool all in one place so you can quickly source, leverage, promote and reassign talent from within your organization.

Assessing Internal Candidates

Once internal candidates for open positions have been identified, it’s time for your teams to dive deeper and examine a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). While the three terms may seem interchangeable, they are actually distinctly different dimensions of a potential internal candidates’ qualifications:

  • Knowledge focuses on the candidate’s understanding of key theoretical concepts important to the role.
  • Skills are the capabilities or hands-on experience needed for the application of theoretical knowledge important for the role.
  • Abilities are the innate traits or talents that a person brings to the role if selected as a successor.

KSAs are the core competencies used when assessing talent and can create a better picture of a potential candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. These are useful in creating your organization’s internal promotion and talent development programs, and it’s essential to develop a KSA profile of each internal candidate to determine whether their attributes align well with a specific role. 

To begin, your internal mobility team can start building KSA profiles by asking these questions:

  • Where does your organization see the role evolving in the next three to five years? What skillsets will be required to evolve with the role? 
  • What unique or specialized competencies are necessary to succeed in the role?
  • What qualities should the internal candidate possesses in order to thrive in the role and meet your organization’s business objectives?

Then, when identifying individual employees as potential internal candidates, consider assessing the following traits:

  • Flexibility and willingness to change roles or work environments
  • Interest in professional development, taking on new projects outside of their duties and learning new skills
  • Good communicators who work well with multiple teams and departments

When completed, the results of a skills audit should be aggregated into a report to obtain a clear view of existing skills and knowledge within your organization. The information you collect during the audit can then be used to support more than just your internal mobility program. It can also be applied to organizational restructuring and internal promotion, as well as help conduct effective succession planning.

Soft Skills in the Workplace: Why They Matter and How to Hire for Them

In the era of skills gaps, soft skills matter. For hiring managers, an age-old dilemma persists. Two ostensibly qualified candidates interview for the same position, but only one can be hired. This may seem like an ideal situation a hiring manager. However, it’s still a dilemma, and dilemmas demand solutions.

When choosing between two seemingly equal candidates, organizations are now prioritizing “soft skills” as the key differentiator. In fact, in LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, 92% of talent acquisition professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. And, 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills.

In this article, we define and explain the importance of soft skills in the workplace and how organizations can best assess candidates for them during the hiring process.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence quotients that enable employees to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.

Key soft skills include:

  • Attitude
  • Communication (both listening and speaking skills)
  • Work ethic
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership qualities
  • Time management
  • Decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Critical thinking
  • Networking
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving

Because soft skills are unquantifiable professional attributes, it can be difficult for hiring managers and others involved in the hiring process to assess them in potential hires, making them an important but elusive set of skills to look for.

Soft Skills in The Workplace Are in Demand

Soft skills in the workplace are becoming increasingly important as organizations look to add additional value to their business. A study conducted by Wonderlic found that 93% of hiring leaders stated that soft skills are an “essential” or “very important” element when making hiring decisions. What’s more, many employers reported that soft skills are more important than tech skills.

what are soft skills and why are they important

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Competition has heated up for workers with the right mix of soft skills, which vary by industry and across the pay spectrum—from making small talk with a customer at the checkout counter to coordinating a project across several departments on a tight deadline.”

According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, employers emphasized leadership and the ability to work in a team as the most desirable attributes when recruiting recent college graduates, ahead of analytical and quantitative skills.

Burning Glass analyzed millions of U.S. job postings and found that one in three skills requested in job postings is a “baseline” or soft skill. “Even in the most technical career areas (such as information technology, and healthcare) more than a quarter of all skill requirements are for baseline skills.”

Talent with the right soft skills is scarce whether you’re focused on hiring or internal mobility. In fact, LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report cited soft skills training as a top priority and 59% of U.S. hiring managers believe it’s difficult to find candidates with the right soft skills.

Soft Skills in The Workplace And Organizational Outcomes

soft skills in the workplace

Creative and Critical Thinking

Employing a workforce of creative and critical thinkers is essential for introducing fresh ideas, services and products. In fact, creative and critical thinking skills were ranked second and third on the World Economic Forum’s top skills employees will need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.

As artificial intelligence and automation in business evolve, creative and critical thinking skills will be increasingly needed to complement the capabilities of machines.

However, creative and critical thinking skills are in short supply. According to a
report from the Society for Human Resource Management, 84% of HR professionals stated they found a deficit of key soft skills including creative and critical thinking among job candidates.

Teamwork and Communication  

Teamwork and communication are weak points for many organizations, and it’s causing performance and productivity challenges. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that the majority of employees “believe that their organization’s project performance would improve if their teams worked more collaboratively.”

What’s more, another Gallup report discovered that teamwork and good communication is a key soft skill for helping B2B organizations solve their top challenge of creating organic growth.

Successful collaboration is strongly related to good communication skills. Communication skills include actively listening to colleagues and willing engagement in conflict resolution to mitigate the effects of miscommunications as well as keeping projects and organizational initiatives on track.

Compassion in Leadership

Compassion is an important aspect of good leadership. Teams thrive when the members trust that their leader cares about them. Research
shows that organizations with more compassionate leaders excel at collaboration – already identified as a key soft skill in the modern workplace.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review authored by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Louise Chester, “Of the over 1,000 leaders we surveyed, 91% said compassion is very important for leadership, and 80% would like to enhance their compassion but do not know how.”

Compassion is a pre-requisite for effective communication and other soft skills in the workplace that enhance interpersonal relationships in the workplace, which are essential to maintaining workplace cohesion.  

Assessing Candidates

Soft Skills

Ask Behavior-Based Interview Questions

Interview questions that are behavior-based can help organizations more easily identify the soft skills possessed by the candidate, especially for technical roles where questions are more hard skill-based. They can provide a look into how they respond in certain situations or to various challenges.

Instead of questions starting out with, “do you” interviewers should try starting out with, “what are your thoughts on” or, “how would you?”

Examples of behavior-based questions to ask candidates applying for more technical positions:

  • Ask how they usually develop relationships with coworkers and supervisors
  • A problem they solved in a creative way or unique way
  • A time they had to deal with someone who was difficult
  • Ask them to describe their ideal work environment and method(s) of communication
  • Ask them to share a time they needed help or guidance on a project and how they went about asking for it
  • Ask them to share a time they had communication problems with their manager or coworkers. How did they handle the situation and their colleague’s responses?

Also, ask candidates how they think their soft skills will help them in the role they are interviewing for. Their answers can reveal how well they understand the nature of the position and its requirements.

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are a prime indicator of whether or not a candidate will make a good fit within an organization. A huge part of communication involves listening. During an interview, observe whether or not the candidate is listening and paying attention to the interviewer. Are they interrupting the interviewer? Are their eyes glazing over?

Verbal cues are also an important part of good communication. For example, when asking a candidate about a previous career challenge, did they use “I” or “we” more often? This will give you a chance to see if the candidate is a team player and whether or not they take or gives credit where it is deserved.

Also, be sure to observe whether or not the candidate asks you any questions about the company.

Check With References

Reference checks are essential in corroborating and verifying information about a candidate’s work history and experience. A candidate’s job references can also provide a candid window into the kind of person they are at work.

A SkillSurvey study found that, when asked, job candidates’ coworkers give feedback on soft skills for reference checks, while managers focus on tasks related hard skills. So, when checking references, it may be beneficial to assess a candidate’s soft and hard skills based on their relationship to the reference.

During the reference checking process, it may be helpful to ask a candidate’s coworkers questions about the soft skills of the potential hire including:

  • Did the candidate get along with their coworkers and management?
  • Tell me what it’s like to work with the job candidate.
  • What advice can you give me to successfully manage the job candidate?
  • What else do I need to know about the job candidate that I didn’t already ask?

Employees are unlikely to vouch for someone who would make an unpleasant coworker, so ask them for a thoughtful assessment.

skills based organization

Soft Skills in The Workplace Will Always Matter

Today’s business landscape is about communication, relationships and presenting your organization in a positive way to the public and potential employees. Soft skills in the workplace allow organizations to effectively and efficiently use their hard skills, like tech and digital skills, and knowledge without being hampered by interpersonal issues, infighting and poor public and market perceptions.

Recruiting for the right blend of soft skills takes a measured and strategic approach. It also requires an investment of time, patients and gut instinct. Make sure to think carefully about how you can learn more about your candidates as humans interacting with other people.

How the Skills of the Future Will Impact Enterprise Recruitment Teams

Technology is disrupting nearly every industry, at a pace that has never been seen before. As we shared in our earlier article on how to create a workforce equipped with the skills of the future, this pace of change means that employers need to take a proactive role in ensuring their workforce is prepared for this change. As in-demand skills shift towards prioritising complex problem solving, critical thinking, emotional intelligence and creativity, workforce leaders need to rethink the way they are acquiring talent.

We’ve explored the pending change of skills in the workplace and its impact on employees, but what does this mean for an in-house recruiting team? As roles are redefined and employers move from traditional job descriptions to skills-based definitions, traditional recruiting teams must learn to adapt.

In this article, we’ll examine the need to change the way jobs are defined and categorized to attract the right talent, how the shifting candidate experience drives continued focus on digital sourcing and recruiting strategies and what these changes mean to in-house recruiting teams.

Changing Skills in the Workplace and the Impact on Recruiting Teams

Jobs are being redefined, skills gaps are widening, which impacts the way recruiting teams must work to find the best candidates. How can internal recruiting teams that have traditionally been aligned to specific business units adapt to meet the needs of workforce 4.0?

  • Some companies are realigning their recruiting teams away from business units to talent segments, where they focus on recruiting for a specific skill set
  • Others are outsourcing select talent segments to RPO providers for additional support and expertise
  • Other employers are moving from job-based recruitment to skills-based recruitment

The shift towards aligning recruiters with specific skills creates a challenge for in-house recruiting teams, which may not have the bandwidth or ability to shift to this model. In-house teams are struggling to keep up with the pace when recruiting for a large variety of roles and skill sets, as the number of jobs being redefined to adapt to new skills increases. Analysis of some in-house client teams show time-to-hire is actually increasing as teams find difficulty with new skills and unique roles to fill.

The digitization of work is also having a major impact on recruiting. It’s difficult for enterprise recruiting teams to keep up with the pace of change in talent acquisition and HR technology. Recruitment teams have access to more technology, which should increase productivity and improve the quality of candidates. But in truth, it can be overwhelming. The HR technology marketplace is valued at more than $14 billion, and new technologies continue to enter the space. Tech & digital skills will become more in-demand amongst recruitment teams.

As employers continue to shift their recruiting processes to keep up with the pace of change, many are turning to outsourced providers, like RPOs, to help with talent segments they’re having trouble with. Partnering with an outsourced firm also brings access to improved talent technology. At PeopleScout, for example, our Affinix™ technology is equipped with AI, machine learning and predictive analytics tools that enable our clients to connect with the best talent faster. We are also continuously evaluating and implementing new tools and features, so our clients are on the cutting-edge of emerging technologies in the marketplace.

Changing Candidate Experience: Ways to Engage with Candidates Online

Employers need to contend with changing candidate expectations in addition to adapting their jobs for the skills of the future. Candidates today want benefits like flexible working hours and virtual work opportunities and have in-demand skills that translate across multiple job categories. And, candidates today have more options than ever. With very strong job growth and low unemployment in many of the world’s leading economies, it is becoming a more candidate-driven job market every day.

How do you find these candidates of the future? Employers need to shift their employment branding strategies to fit the digital era.

Many employers invest large amounts of time and money in their career sites and application process, however most candidates are not finding your career site organically and the application process is often still cumbersome and slow.

While it is critical for candidates to have a good experience when they hit your career site, you need to first find and reach candidates where they are. With the rise of Amazon and other personalized online retail experiences, candidates expect to be treated like a consumer throughout the recruiting process. Recruitment marketing tactics must evolve to meet these requirements, with career sites recommending jobs to candidates the way online retailers recommend products to consumers.

Developing candidate personas can help employers understand exactly who they are targeting. With the candidate in mind, you can develop targeted digital advertising campaigns, post positions on specialty job boards and develop recruitment marketing content to guide candidates through the application process.

It is also critical to closely monitor job rating sites. A poor candidate or employee experience can result in a loss of candidates due to negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. A positive review, on the other hand, can be more meaningful as it is coming straight from an unbiased individual, rather than a company career site.

The right talent acquisition technology tool can also help provide a superior candidate experience.

  • AI-enabled sourcing tools help recruiters find the best candidates faster.
  • A streamlined application process can allow candidates apply with just one click.
  • Personalized recruitment marketing tools like chatbots, SMS messages, email campaign and individualized landing pages provide candidates with the consumer-like experience they have come to expect online.

Why Turn to Outsourced Recruitment?

When enterprise recruiting teams are struggling to implement technology or source the right candidates for positions requiring new skills, some employers bring in a talent partner to focus on specific job functions or skillsets. Talent acquisition leaders are turning to RPO providers for their expertise in hard-to-source talent segments. They’re also looking for a partner who can bring the right technology to improve sourcing and hiring metrics. Learn more about PeopleScout’s RPO solutions.

How to Create a Workforce Equipped with the Skills of the Future

Automation is transforming the way we work. The World Economic Forum calls this change the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is characterized by a “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.” In short, technology is disrupting nearly every industry, at a pace that has never happened before.

This pace of change means that employers need to take a proactive role in ensuring they have a workforce equipped with the skills of the future in order to avoid skills gaps. To accomplish this, employers first need to understand the skills they will need to remain competitive and innovative. Then, they need to understand how best to prepare and train their current workforce, as well as prepare to source, recruit and hire the talent of the future. In this post, we’ll share the top skills of the future, how technology is changing the way we work and explore ways organizations can prepare for the workforce of the future.

Skills of the Future

According to the World Economic Forum, the top ten skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution have shifted in the last several years, prioritising complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity as the top three skills and adding emotional intelligence to the list.

The following ten skills are listed as the most in demand for employers:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

This list reflects the fact that robots can complete many tasks faster than humans, but the machines still lack soft skills like creativity and emotional intelligence. As technology takes on more of the workload, the most in-demand employees will be those who possess the skills that computers cannot replicate. However, the need also increases for workers who have the skills to use, build and innovate the technology of the future.

Automation is Changing the Way We Work

It’s no secret that automation is fundamentally changing the way many industries operate, increasing the demand for tech and digital skills in the workforce. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 375 million people around the world will need to change occupational categories by 2030 due to automation.

Let’s explore this idea using the example of the impact of automation on the automobile industry. Some of the most well-known innovations in automation have happened in the industry – starting with Henry Ford’s assembly line. Now, companies around the world are racing to bring autonomous cars to market. The link to the potential disruption in complementary industries from delivery services to drive-through restaurants is overwhelming. However, it is an excellent example to use to illustrate the complexity of the skills needed for the future.

The skills required to deliver the cars to market are both highly technical and analytical.  However, the skills needed to design and operate the vehicles of the future are more complicated. Skills in design thinking and innovation will be critical. Programmers will need to ensure safety in weather conditions from blizzards to heavy rains and navigate autonomous cars and trucks through road construction and complicated intersections and interchanges.  They may be faced with programming life and death decision-making into the vehicles, which are inherently complex human behaviours requiring emotional and social intelligence skills above all others.

How to Prepare the Future Workforce

The Transformation of Talent

Automation and the skills transformation will affect many industries over the next decade, but lessons can be learned from the industries that have already come through the journey, transforming their workforce in order to deliver to a new business model. This transformation is illustrated with an example of one of PeopleScout’s clients, a company which provides research and risk management services.

The company began migrating customers from the traditional print version of their core product to an online version available on multiple platforms. This was a complicated and highly-involved transformation which impacted everyone from their internal workforce to their heavily print-dependent end-user. To illustrate the skills transformation that occurred, since that point in time, the number of technology hires PeopleScout makes for this client has increased 500 percent. This includes roles like product analysts, product managers and implementation consultants. At the same time, hires for editorial roles like editors, journalists and content developers have increased only 14 percent. And, 100 percent of editorial roles filled were for their online research product; no positions filled were for the traditional print product.

In order to help guide this client through their talent transformation, PeopleScout worked closely with the internal HR function to adapt their candidate personas for both external hiring and internal mobility. We then developed sophisticated sourcing strategies to source candidates with skill sets that would meet the needs of the new organization. In addition to sourcing new candidates internally and externally, there were also efforts to analyze which traditional roles had transferrable skills to the requirements of the new roles. This was a journey to take a traditional business and transform it into a technology company and substantially shifting the workforce to meet the new strategy.

Future Skill Degree Programs

Another way employers can prepare for the future workforce is through working closely with high schools, colleges, universities, apprenticeships and graduate recruitment programs to help develop degree programs that meet the skills of the future. By building these programs, employers can ensure that graduates have the skills necessary to succeed in the coming years.

The importance of high school programs is not yet as obvious as those in higher education, but many businesses and universities have started working with high schools to source and attract new talent early. The programs are particularly significant in industries where there is a forecasted talent gap. For example, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy students in Sydney have the opportunity to partner with an engineering company to learn valuable job skills and open up thinking about new career pathways.

I recently participated in a panel discussion with other industry leaders as well as a professor at a university in Sydney. The professor shared that the university spent time with CEOs and business leaders asking them what skills they felt their organizations needed to ensure their business was successful in the future. As a result of those conversations, the university created a highly-innovative, cross-disciplinary degree program designed to produce students with skills that include high-level critical thinking, future scenario building and innovation, as well as many other skills identified in the World Economic Forum top ten list.

However, in the first year of the program, they had minimal applicants. Why would such an innovative and carefully-designed degree have so little applicants? More work may need to be done to ensure that parents and students are fully educated on the necessary skill sets to be successful in the future of work.

How to Prepare your Current Workforce

Employers cannot simply wait for the workforce of tomorrow to arrive. To stay ahead, it is necessary to train and prepare current workers for these shifts. To make this a priority, HR and the C-suite need to be aligned on what roles will be needed in the next three, five or ten years, as well as what skills will be needed to fill those roles. The roles that exist now may transform or disappear altogether, and new skill sets will be necessary for the business to drive growth and strategy. Both need to be open-minded about the transferrable skills in order to ensure success in having the talent to deliver key business outcomes.

Reskilling Programs

In some countries, governments have taken on some of the burden of reskilling. For example, the Australian government has established the Skilling Australians Fund which provides $1.5 billion to support apprenticeships, traineeships and other employer-related training. The goal is to retrain more Australian workers with the skills needed in the tourism, hospitality, health, engineering, manufacturing, building and construction, agriculture and digital technologies industries. The program is targeted toward automotive workers who lost jobs due to closing car manufacturing plants.

In the United Kingdom, the government plans to spend as much as 500 million pounds per year on worker training to combat low productivity. According to Reuters, the spending could reach as high as nearly 6 billion pounds on academic and technical education which will transform the system of technical education and increase the amount of training available by more than 50 percent.

Moving forward, governments could also potentially track metrics around reskilling opportunities as well as metrics for job creation in order to drive these initiatives even further forward.

How an RPO Provider Can Help Prepare for the Skills of the Future

An RPO provider can be a valuable partner for employers looking to prepare their workforces for the skills of the future. RPO providers can help organizations adapt their candidate personas, to ensure they are sourcing talent with the necessary skills and identifying new ways to target candidates who fit these personas. In addition, they can work with internal HR departments to demonstrate how candidates who may not have an exact profile for a role have the transferrable skills to be successful.

An RPO can also help build graduate and internship recruitment programs and partner with schools and government programs to find candidates from new sources with new skills.

An experienced RPO provider can also help you build your talent pool from within your own company, by consulting to develop an internal reskilling program and helping reevaluate your current positions and workforce mix to ensure your organization is targeting the right talent.

To stay ahead in the rapidly changing talent landscape, employers should evaluate their current workforce needs, the skills they have within their current employee talent pool and seek out an RPO provider who can act as a partner in sourcing, recruiting and training employees with the skills of the future.