Beware the Hazards of Quick Fixes to Talent Shortages and Skills Mismatches

Posted on: February 28, 2023, by :

It’s a lesson we need to appreciate: short-term solutions can easily lead to longer term frustration.

As we attempt to address immediate talent shortages and skills mismatches, it’s important to keep in mind that a couple of key elements of community development—collaboration and community participation—are paramount to a community’s ability to thrive.

Despite all the tactics being used, from implementing aggressive hiring strategies, increasing benefit competitiveness, to offering sign-on bonuses, talent shortages are not going away any time soon. Given an aging workforce and less talent in the pipeline in many communities, both short-and-long-term solutions are desperately needed. As company leaders wrestle with how best to attract, develop, and retain talent, short-term solutions remain the default in many instances. And although focusing on our immediate needs is important, focusing on our longer-term needs is imperative.

In conversations with community leaders, I stress the importance of identifying the root cause of the challenges faced by local employers, knowing that employer needs and challenges vary. We can implement sound solutions when we identify the root causes of our challenges. Once we thoroughly understand our challenges, we can explore our options and collaborate with others to learn and leverage knowledge, networks, and resources. Though it’s easy to forge ahead with doing what needs done to hire talent now, everyone—employees, companies, and communities—benefit in the long run when we are prepared to hire right and manage well. And managing well involves ensuring our employees have the skills they need to be successful.

For companies, some of the hazards of the quick fixes to talent shortages and skills mismatches include:

Decreased productivity: Short-term fixes can result in decreased productivity as new employees are on-boarded and trained, often impacting the productivity of employees associated with the transition of new employees into the organization. Delayed schedules, mistakes, and missed deadlines associated with transitions can also impact productivity.

Increased turnover: If we focus on filling positions as quickly as possible, we may not ensure that our new hires are a good fit for the organization. Ultimately, this can lead to higher turnover rates if employees are not well-suited for their roles or for the company culture.

Unnecessary expenditures:
Quick hiring decisions that involve failing to properly vet candidates or simply hiring the wrong person can result in unnecessary expenditures.

Damaged reputation: High turnover rates can damage a company’s reputation, making it more difficult to attract top talent in the future.

For communities, a main priority should involve retaining existing companies while simultaneously attracting new ones. As we know, talent shortages are not just challenges for companies, they are also challenges for communities. Everyone benefits when companies and communities work together to create solutions to problems. And creating the best solutions involves thoroughly understanding the problems and collaborating when appropriate.

Lastly, to improve if not completely resolve the skills mismatch challenge, we need to identify the skills needed by employers and then develop training and professional development programs to upskill talent as needed. The first step in this solution involves a workforce training and development needs assessment. Then, companies, communities, and providers can use a data-informed approach to decision-making that promotes the creation of programs tailored to fluctuating regional, community, and organizational needs. Overall, while short-term fixes may offer temporary relief from talent shortages, they can ultimately have negative long-term consequences for a company’s productivity, profitability, and reputation.