Skills Gap Training VS Cross Training

If you are a business owner who struggles to replace outgoing employees because your candidate pool falls short of the required skills, you have a genuine problem, and not an uncommon one. In recent years,  skills gap and cross training have been hot topics.

Skills gap training and cross training are two concepts that sound similar, but serve different purposes. Skills gap refers to the difference between what a company needs and the skills it has available.

Cross training refers to training employees to perform duties and functions in multiple areas.

According to a 2020 survey by McKinsey & Company, 87 percent of executives and managers report they are currently experiencing talent gaps or expect to be experiencing them soon. While hiring is one way to close the gaps, nearly one-third say they are training their employees to either perform more duties in their current roles or move into different, sometimes multiple, roles. 

What is Skills Gap Training?

A skills gap is a gap between the skills an employee has and the skills needed to perform a job well. Not just perform a job, but perform a job well. For example, some employees come into the workforce lacking the communication skills required to be successful at their job. They might perform the job functions, but their lack of excellent communication skills will stop them from becoming a top performer. This has consequences for both the employee, co-workers and the company. Without the right skills, their performance becomes lackluster, resulting in lowered morale, which leads to higher churn rates. Poor communication skills with co-workers can lead to friction and lowered efficiency. All of these consequences hurt the company.

The good news is that skills gap training can easily handle this.

What Is Employee Cross Training?

The essence of cross training is to build the skills of everyone in the company, so they better understand what it takes to keep the company running.

Cross training goes beyond training an employee just in case someone else gets sick. It starts by identifying the tasks and skills needed in a specific area of your organization so employees can jump in whenever needed.

This empowers organizations to find support from within instead of having to outsource work during peak times or when someone with specific skills isn’t available or leaves. Employees are company assets. Cross training them makes them more valuable assets for the company while gaining knowledge and skills to benefit their own careers. This improves overall morale, allows the organization to use existing resources instead of outsourcing, makes hiring from within easier, and reduces employee churn.

What and When to Train

Addressing skills gaps and what cross training is needed within an organization is no simple task. Whether you are looking to improve software skills, systems knowledge, product knowledge, customer services, leadership, communication or any other soft or hard skills your organization needs, training is the key.

But you need a roadmap. Start by looking at each area in your organization and identify which one, if made more efficient, would produce the greatest results in your organization. This could be customer service, production, sales or even HR.

Also, realize that while training is a key element to closing skills gaps and improving your company assets, it’s not the only factor. 

When faced with lower than expected results or efficiency, you need to ask questions like:

  1. Does the person have the skills to do the job?
  2. Does the person have the desire to do the job?
  3. Is the person being allowed to do the job?

If the answer is yes to all three, then no amount of training is going to increase production or improve  efficiency. There may be equipment, logistic or mechanical issues that are preventing optimum results.

A “no” for #1 is definitely training, but that training might require more than an online course. It might require coaching, on-the-job training, off-site training or any of the many ways you can train your people. The good news is that you can directly address this one with training.

A “no” for #2 shows a morale or maybe even a workplace culture issue. This may take intervention from HR or at least the manager to find out what’s going on. Hiring might be a solution for this one. But you still need to find out what the real issue is. If the issue is systemic, simply hiring a new person won’t fix anything.

A “no” for #3 might be a policy and procedural issue or maybe a resource issue. Again, this likely requires intervention from HR or the manager to find out what the actual issue is and get that resolved. 

Once you’ve identified that you do have a training need and know what skills need to be added and improved in which areas, the next step is to put it all together and get the training done. That’s where we can help.

How We Can Help

Once you have a roadmap on what training you’ll be doing, we can help you locate the best online courses for your team. While online training can address much of the training needs of an organization, it won’t handle everything. Your training may also require coaching, workshops, blended training, webinars, live training, off-site training, or a review of new or updated SOPs.

Regardless of what training you need and how that training is delivered, our learning system, AbilityLMS, can help you automate the process of getting the training assigned to the right people, ensure that the training is being done, and provide you with complete reporting all the way through the process.

For more information about how we can help your organization, just give us 30 minutes and we’ll show you how we’ve improved engagement for our clients and created much better impacts in their organization. Click here to schedule a call.

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