One of the most significant challenges facing many businesses today is the dire shortage of highly skilled workers. These shortages are reaching such alarming levels that business leaders and economic pundits believe the mismatch of supply and demand could hinder economic recovery. However, the following six steps have the potential to mitigate the effects of a skills shortage without increasing costs.
Step 1: Boost efforts to drive greater productivity -- In one organization we worked with, engineering efficiency levels hovered around 45-55% as a direct result of poor email discipline and meeting effectiveness. Once inefficient working habits and ingrained practices were addressed, the engineers averaged a 15% higher rate of productivity within six months.
Step 2: Eliminate non-value added work that diverts skilled worker attention -- Organizational “right sizing” in critical areas of the business allow for the reallocation of valuable resources to other critical areas of need. Skilled workers often have the capacity to do more when they are allowed to concentrate on tasks that require their unique skills.
Step 3: Concurrent action needed on three fronts -- Based on our findings, increasing productivity from skilled personnel is complex and requires simultaneous action on three fronts: behavioral change, management system enhancements and process improvements.
Step 4: Secure knowledge transfer -- The knowledge transfer from a veteran workforce allows companies to operate efficiently with fewer skilled employees and accelerate growth when new talent is acquired.
Step 5: Build operational and management capabilities -- In some cases, employees are promoted to middle management without the skills needed to be an effective leader. Senior executives must put building blocks in place to properly develop effective managers, as well as strengthen the abilities of skilled workers.
Step 6: Take action now -- Companies that act now have a relatively inexpensive solution to a potential long-term systemic problem and a distinct advantage over competitors that are slow to respond.
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