AMARILLO, Texas — Today’s employee marketplace, in this era of nearly full employment, presents significant challenges across the entire hiring spectrum.
While this is not news, we must remain cognizant of the diminished quantity of candidates, both qualified with hard skills and less qualified with soft skills and the importance of reevaluating the past prerequisites against the current marketplace’s available talent.
The candidate count rises as the number and intensity of the prerequisite skills qualifiers decline. The cost of unfilled positions within direct labor can easily exceed the expense of training new personnel on the hard skills of a potential candidate.
Skills-based hiring has always been a preferred strategy for talent acquisition historically; the question of the amount and benefit of substituting soft skills instead of hard skills is a question to be asked as part of adapting to the market changes.
When comparing the hard, or core, skills with the soft skills that lend to successful transitions, it helps to think of these items as “must skills” and “plus skills.” These can be weighted according to the ease of time to train the missing “must skills” with consideration of the benefit of the “plus skills” assisting in the accomplishment of the training.
Ideally, the desired soft skills will aid in reducing the time needed to train.
The question of compensation should also be considered as the soft-skilled candidate is not yet ready to perform the task fully or independently and this brings into play a training wage, which may further offset the expense of providing training. The risk and concern here are most likely to be compensation and compatibility of the skills with the task.
The positive impacts of this can be highly impactful to the operation. A larger pool of candidates means fewer unfilled shifts and less overtime potential.
The recruiting turn time would also be reduced and further save expense. Soft-skill hiring will allow for a better team and organizational fit. The cringy feeling of having to untrain poor task practices of experienced candidates evaporates as there are no previous experiences to draw from with this team member.
Widening the hiring net will also allow for a more diverse group to draw from and the wider array of varied experiences could potentially offer more creative problem-solving solutions.
The risks are very apparent in this approach. However, in the new hiring landscape, the only certain way to guarantee to continue to struggle is to sit and wait for the pendulum to swing back … in my experience it rarely does.
Hiring a new team member who cannot yet perform the required tasks calls for a level of preparedness on how to provide the training effectively and efficiently to accomplish the task with careful consideration of the cost of achieving this goal.
During this period, the team member will likely feel dissatisfied and uncertain if their new job is really for them. Be prepared to proactively offset their misgivings and do not let them slip into a crisis of confidence through a lack of positive feedback from several levels of leadership.
It is critical to not forget their lack of professional experience in the assignment can easily lead to second-guessing without real-time feedback or performance improvement acknowledgment.
Implementing these changes is not a single-step process. The support and confidence of the leaders at all levels is imperative.
Gathering your leadership team’s consent, agreement and support of the initiative will make or break the program. Leadership must understand the skills needed by trainees and why these skills are key qualifiers, how they differ from traditional qualifications—and why this distinction matters to everyone involved.
A fully developed training plan must be prepared and followed to ensure consistency in development. In addition, measuring success will further enhance the program as it moves forward.
Utilize co-workers for training as well as leaders, which allows for a more vested interest from other team members in the trainee’s performance. Consider incorporating free online training options where appropriate.
When determining selection and training, keep in mind that the desired soft skills are very hard to teach, so rank selection aptitude accordingly. These include, but are not limited to, the ability and speed of learning, enthusiasm, and desire to achieve, ability to perform the tasks, positive attitude, and displayed behavior.
Solid references will augment the candidate’s potential.
Evolving with the continuously changing landscape we see today is a decision. Those who embrace change will lead all of us into our future.
Low-cost Opportunities for Direct Labor Employee Retention, June 1, 2023
Reevaluating Methods, Instruments of Hourly Employee Acquisition, March 2, 2023
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].