Many companies are employing people with mismatched skills and this is damaging productivity and profitability within their business.
I wrote an article in February this year about the dangers of recruiting employees with the wrong skills for the vacant position. Many employers look for skills that aren’t needed to get the job done. Almost half of employees in the UK are in jobs with mismatched skills. They are either over-or-under skilled for the job. Or they might have the wrong qualification, or are not qualified at all.
A report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) last year found that over a third (37%) of workers have the skills to cope with more demanding jobs. Additionally, many people with degrees are in jobs which do not require such a high level of qualification. Conversely, one in ten people reported lacking the skills needed to carry out their job effectively. The report concluded that as many as half of UK workers could be in the wrong job, based on their skill level.
Why does it matter if your employees have mismatched skills?
Mismatched skills bring negative impacts for our employees. This has a knock-on negative effect on our business.
For employees, the CIPD survey found that over-skilled workers earn less than those whose skills are well-matched to their jobs. This can result in a long term inability to increase their salary to a level they feel equals their skills. This can lead to resentment.
On the other hand, if someone has not got the relevant skills for their job, then they can become stressed and may work longer hours than is healthy.
Other issues for employees who have mismatched skills may include:
- reduced chances of promotion;
- difficulty in getting a new job;
- poor job satisfaction;
- lack of trust in the workplace;
- lower confidence.
Why does an employer need to worry about this?
For employers, these implications for our workers are a key factor in the productivity levels for our business.
If our employees have mismatched skills, they are less likely to do a good job for us. Their motivation and job satisfaction will suffer. As a result, they may become resentful and even disruptive. Their sickness absence levels are likely to increase. All of these things are difficult to manage in the workplace and result in cost (in time and money) for the employer.
You may start to wonder why you have been unable to recruit a more satisfactory and happy employee. Employers often think that it is difficult to recruit the right people. But it may be more accurate that they are not even looking for the right people.
You may also find that employees are leaving only a short time after they started working for you. Over-skilled employees will want to leave and find a job which is better matched to their skills. And under-skilled employees may just be very unhappy because they struggle to do the job.
All of these things affect the overall productivity of your workforce. And that increases your costs and reduces your profits.
How can I address the problem of mismatched skills?
If you ensure your employees have the right skills for their jobs, either through recruitment or training (or both), then they will be happier in the workplace and you will benefit from higher productivity and increased profitability.
To avoid mismatching skills to jobs in your company, there are some key areas where you might want to take some action.
- Recruitment . A good place to start is to review your recruitment process. Have you got a recruitment strategy? If so, does it need to be adjusted? How accurate are your job descriptions? Have you reviewed your job descriptions lately?
- Skills Development And Training. Is it time for you to invest in some training? You could arrange some skills development for the current job holders, where they are under-skilled. Clearly this will address specific problem areas. But it can also send a powerful message about valuing your employees .
- Conducting a skills audit. This can give a clear picture of the skills you already have in your workplace. You may be unaware of some of them. It is certainly likely that you will find a number of areas where some adjustments can be made in terms of job design or training plans. It could even lead to some restructuring if you can move people around to address some of the key skills gaps.
- Job design. Once you understand the skills you have in your workplace, you can prioritise better use of those skills. Then you can adapt how well and where those skills are used. You can then ensure you have the right jobs with the right people in them. And you can recruit and train others, as necessary.
- Management training. Your managers are key in this whole process and it will pay you to ensure they have the skills to support employee development. You may want to review your management practices as well and ensure your managers are confident in those practices.
What benefit will it bring?
If you can address these key areas, your employees may start to use their skills fully and appropriately in the workplace. This will bring them increased levels of job satisfaction. They are likely to earn more throughout their career and have more confidence and less stress.
This can lead to increased loyalty, trust and motivation. Your retention rates will go up and the money you need to spend on recruitment will reduce. All of this leads to higher productivity, more rapid growth and – ultimately – better profitability for your business.
If you think this article is useful and you would like any strategic HR support with a skills audit, recruitment strategy or anything else we have covered, then please contact us for a free half-hour discovery call.
Jill Aburrow runs a strategic HR consultancy business – JMA HR . She provides strategic HR advice and support to Professional Services businesses who want to improve loyalty, growth and profit. Why not join the JMA HR mailing list? Jill has been a professional strategic HR advisor for over two decades, supporting Information Technology companies. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Employment Law.