Revenue growth is a sign of success. To achieve that growth, organizations must have the right skill sets on staff. Yet too often, companies are running behind as they fail to upskill and reskill employees in a timely way. At this time, it is necessary to keep up with the demand for technological advancements to prevent skills gaps. One strategy to consider is tapping into a talent pool of individuals with adjacent skills who can improve your organization’s capabilities. According to research conducted by Gartner, doing so skill adjacencies can help fill critical skills gaps and propel your business. By identifying and developing employees with skills just outside what you need, you can quickly close the gap and put your business on the path to success.
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What are skill adjacencies?
Adjacent skills are related and transferable skills that can complement the primary role of an employee, making them more efficient and effective in their jobs.
As an example, let’s say that a factory worker is in charge of operating machines. The adjacent skill set of this worker includes providing machine maintenance and troubleshooting, understanding safety protocols, and solving problems.
Possessing these additional skills increases the employee’s ability to work more productively on the factory floor as they can solve any problems that arise quickly and efficiently.
Adjacent skills can be important for improving efficiency across the workplace, but they also enable talent mobility, making sure you can assign the right people the right tasks without having to search outside your current workforce.
By recognizing these adjacent skills, HR and L&D professionals can identify opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to meet emerging needs. This approach can take many forms. For example, you may find someone who:
- has the required skills and could easily upskill
- lacks some of the required skills but has the aptitude and potential to acquire them
- possesses a related skill set that could be leveraged for the desired skill set
In each case, skill adjacency prevents starting from scratch. The adjacent skill approach anticipates skill shifts and uses the overlap with other skills to fill gaps.
Why focus on adjacent skills?
With the gig economy revolutionizing how people work, companies are now connecting independent contractors and temporary workers to immediate opportunities, allowing them to engage in meaningful employment on their own terms. This means that organizations must stay flexible and ensure that they have access to the necessary talent when needed. Meeting the future needs of an organization requires being able to predict those needs while being agile enough to fill any talent gaps that arise. And while HR and business leaders have been working hard to build these skills internally and hire for them externally, this challenging time requires more than build-and-buy tactics.
HR leaders know that growing the business is their top priority, but they also understand how digitalization changes everything.
As a result of this ever-changing landscape and the increased competition for skills in different areas such as artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, (76%) rank growth as mission-critical to success.
There are several reasons for this strategy being so effective:
- It’s a way to fill a skills gap. By identifying and developing employees with skills just outside what you need, you can close the gap.
- It’s a cost-effective way to build skills. Training employees who are already on your staff is typically more affordable than hiring externally.
- It can help with succession planning. By identifying high-potential individuals with the ability to develop the desired skills, you can start preparing those employees for future roles.
How can you identify skill adjacencies?
Start with assessing your current workforce. This will help you identify employees with the skills, aptitude, and potential to develop the desired skill set.
Once you have a list of candidates, you can start evaluating them using a variety of methods, including the following.
Skills mapping involves looking at an employee’s current job role and creating a visual representation (a map) of all the skills they possess and all the skills they need in order to reach their full potential.
This mapping helps the employer quickly identify what areas need improvement or additional training for employees so they can reach their maximum performance levels in their current roles and beyond.
Skills Assessments and Aptitude Tests
Skills assessments are typically used for entry-level or mid-level roles in which there is minimal experience required; these tests enable employers to get a better understanding of an individual’s levels of knowledge and ability in certain areas before making any hiring decisions.
On the other hand, aptitude tests are more useful when employers are seeking to fill higher-level positions; these tests measure an individual’s problem-solving abilities and provide employers with insight into how well someone would perform if hired for a particular position.
Behavioral interviews help employers gain insight into how someone handled certain situations in past roles, giving them an indication of how well-suited an individual would be to a particular role in the organization.
The collected data will help you identify which employees have the potential to develop the skills you need. The next step is creating a development plan to help them reach their full potential.
Tips for Identifying Skill Adjacencies
More often than not, employees have adjacent skills that can be leveraged to create a more productive and efficient organization.
Identifying these competencies and capitalizing on them is a must for business owners who want to thrive in the current economy. Our skills experts share a few tips on how to get started:
- Make current employee skill sets visible and encourage managers and employees to maintain a portfolio of skills to share with HR. This will help identify underutilization of skills and could be leveraged in other organizational roles.
- Identify and mobilize skill adjacencies that are not obvious and determine which secondary or tertiary skills you can start building on. Often, the most valuable skill sets are not obvious, so you want to look closely at what employees are capable of.
- Adjust career path strategies to encourage flexible career progression. The traditional linear career path is no longer desirable for many employees. Instead, offer opportunities for personal development that allow employees to develop new skills while remaining engaged in their work.
- Finally, consider the value proposition for employers and employees when contemplating skills adjacency programs. What’s in it for both parties?
What is often overlooked in the hiring, upskilling, and reskilling processes is that people with the necessary skills may never have held that specific role or title before.
With the right approach, skill adjacencies can be a powerful tool for organizational success.
Using adjacent skills is a strategy for filling skill gaps by developing employees with the competencies, aptitude, and potential to learn the desired skill set. This approach is cost-effective and can help with succession planning.
AG5 software can help you implement a skill adjacency strategy at your organization.
Our platform makes it easy to assess employee skills, identify high-potential individuals, and create development plans.
Learn more about how AG5 can help you capitalize on skill adjacencies.