How to identify employee knowledge and skills gaps

Chloe Sesta Jacobs has the five tips you’ll need.

Reading time: 5 minutes

Being a modern-day employee is not an easy job. Many people fear automated technology will replace human labor, and for some, this is an (ugly) reality.

What’s more, the definition of an ‘average’ work is becoming outdated. Due to the dynamic and constant change in the job market, employees are forced to improve their skills continually.

More than 10 years ago, Marc Pensky coined the term digital immigrant to describe the work environment – meaning that modern-day employees will always be behind, and that’s something they will have to overcome to succeed in their business endeavours.

Why it’s important to identify places for improvement

If they want to succeed, businesses should invest in their employees by offering them an opportunity for self-improvement.

Not only will they be able to bring back this investment in the long run, but they will also keep their employees engaged and motivated, which is key for improving employee retention.

According to research, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career, yet the number one reason employees feel held back from learning is time.

If that is not a reason enough for you, keep in mind that employee performance will be reflected in your bottom line.

How to identify employee knowledge and skills gaps

There are some general tips to follow for those who want to successfully identify employee knowledge and skill gaps, and become stellar business owners.

Tip #1 – Discover the company’s KPIs

While having well-rounded employees might seem nice, the fact is that every business values some skills more than others.

94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career, yet the number one reason employees feel held back from learning is time

That’s why determining the business needs should be the first step towards identifying employee knowledge and skills gaps.

However, before working on improving their employees’ skillset, companies should make sure they know their long-term goals. This will enable them to determine which skills employees should improve to support business growth.

Here are some questions companies should ask to help them get started:

  • Where do they want to see their organisation in the next 12 months?
  • Do they expect any changes in the market over the year?
  • If they expect some changes in the market, what can they do to be one step ahead of the competition?
  • What are their business’s ‘pain points’?
  • What jobs should be filled to stay ahead of the competition?
  • What skills will their employees need in the future to match market demands?

Knowing the company’s KPIs is a detrimental factor for business success. By determining their goals, companies can set the grounds for planned skill improvement.

Tip #2 – Know how your employees spend their time during work hours

People don’t usually have a clear picture of how they spend their time at work until they decide to pay attention to it.

Employee time tracking software gained popularity in recent years and enabled organisations to get proper insights on how their employees spend their time at work.

Furthermore, time tracking software helped businesses to skyrocket their productivity and enabled them to work less by achieving more.

Time tracking in itself can help in determining how much time employees spend on different tasks. This way, organisations can not only identify the most time-consuming tasks but also see if certain employees take ages to complete tasks that should not really be time-intensive.

This can let managers know that these employees might lack certain info or skills that are needed to complete those tasks in a timely manner.

Benchmark the performance of the company’s stellar employees

Tip #3 – Encourage employee feedback

Companies shouldn’t underestimate the power of proper feedback. Regular meetings where employees and managers can share their work-related thoughts and insights will not only help them reach their business goals, but they will also work on employee engagement, motivation and retention.

One-on-one feedback can give amazing results and be the driving force behind a company’s success. In the context of this article, these meetings can be a perfect way to find out if some employees are struggling with certain tasks and discuss what kind of training you can employ to solve their problems.

Besides regular feedback, conducting 360-degree reviews is a great way to improve employee knowledge and skill gaps.

This type of feedback is based on what the company’s clients, managers, and employees can tell us about specific processes in the company. A 360-degree review aims to give a well-rounded insight into employee performance on a collective level.

Other ways of gathering employees’ feedback include organising group workshops and discussions where employees can discuss the problems and possible solutions as a team.

By doing this, the team is not only working on resolving the company’s weak points but strengthening the bonds of the group as well.

Tip #4 – Benchmark performance of top employees

One of the ways to identify differences in skills and knowledge in your organisation is by benchmarking the performance of the company’s stellar employees.

This will help you to set the point of reference for other employees and work towards improving their skills so they can reach those performance levels.

A great way to conduct a benchmarking performance is by tracking and observation of top performers’ best practices and optimising work based on their experience.

In simple terms, the goal should be that top employees share tips and tricks they use to complete tasks faster, easier and more efficient.

Tip #5 – Conduct employee assessments

When they determine which skills their business will need in the future, companies should asses their employees’ skills gaps and actively work on improving them.

Conducting polls, tests, and quizzes could help determine which skills should employees improve. However, while doing it, companies should also make sure they use real-life examples that are relevant to their business.

After all, theory and practical implementation represent two different levels of understanding a subject.

The final verdict

Identifying employee knowledge and skills gaps can be (and often is) a crucial factor for business success. To ensure all employees have the necessary skills, companies need to make sure they know what will they be doing in the next few years, make a progress-based plan, and focus their efforts on consistently upskilling their employees.


About the author

Chloe Sesta Jacobs is head of people and culture at Deputy



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