Matching Work and Skills in a VUCA World

Most companies face the effects of the VUCA world. They are operating in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions –  in this environment speed is decisive. The challenges are obvious: Right application of talent to the right job at the perfect time. In this endeavor, time is often the vital parameter deciding whether a company leaves the market – or stays.

What to do, how to react?

To showcase the new complexity in the labor market, we identified three main trends:

– Current skill-supply is not matching current skill demand. For most companies it is nearly impossible to find the right talents on the market. Making things worse, it is also increasingly difficult to leverage skills of their own employees: In a recent global survey of job seekers conducted by LinkedIn, 37 percent of respondents said their current job does not fully utilize their skills or provides them with enough challenges.

– Employees can’t apply their skills to the full as they are stuck in pre-defined roles. In a recent survey of OECD countries, more than one in four adults reported a mismatch between their current skill sets and the qualifications required to do their jobs. This sentiment results in a growing fear that parts of the existing skill sets will not be relevant in the future.

– Workforce is increasingly diverse and increasingly wants to work independently. An Upwork study reveals that four times more hiring managers expect their usage of freelancers to increase in 2018 than those who expect it to decrease.

We do face a challenge: We underperform when it comes to matching work demand to appropriate skills. Since requirements keep changing constantly, this means failing in a crucial task. On top of that, we must admit that our current talent mechanisms, e.g. static career paths, are not fit for purpose – neither in the light of modern work environment, nor for people who like to shape their own their careers.

What if we could optimize the match of supply of skills and demand of work?

In November 2017, we met with our client’s network and discussed the benefits matching: Among other advantages, a more skill-based organization increases work productivity by up to 9 % and decreases cost by up to 7 %. From those in-house-meeting, we derived a mandate to explore this topic, using a co-creation approach.

Co-creation is a core element of working at TI People: Two times a year, TI People explore an innovative HR-case in collaboration with their clients. If the innovation seems promising, TI People offers a co-creation experience to build an actionable tool.

After conducting expert interviews, first findings are up for discussion:

– Transparency of skills is a prerequisite of new and agile organizational formats. On organizational levels, many companies experiment with setting up agile organizational formats, but struggle to staff agile teams as they are not aware of actual workforce skills.

– Skill Management is a new field of a forward-looking HR strategy. It entails the following building blocks: 1.) Work decomposition 2.) Skill detection, 3.) Future skill demand prediction 4.) Work/ Skill matching and finally, 5.) a new lens on Talent Management

– Skill management is too broad – nobody knows where to start. There is a lot of buzz in the media, but there is almost no guidance how to approach skill management as a strategy. Companies lack a clear understanding of ‘their first 100 days of skill management’, and how to determine their current maturity level in skill management.

– Detecting skills comes with data validation challenges. Companies are using various new tools to match skills with appropriate work, such as talent profiles, project market places etc. However, most struggle with the validation of skills that employees attribute to themselves. Even links to feedback mechanisms and endorsements didn’t give them the needed data validity.

– Employee ownership is a mandate for skill management. Employees increasingly leave organizations because career options are not advertised clearly or are missing altogether. If there are matches between employee demands and job openings, the application process should be coupled with a new opportunity for employees to manage their own career. As company boundaries blur, it should be possible to use career management-tools and match skills to work across company’s lines and a range of job profiles.

Please share your experiences and views on this very exciting topic – we are looking forward to entering a discussion with you!

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