On The Job Training/ Skills Matter, Alot: Employees Matter Alot too

Taking a break from the series of posts exploring visual literacy and communications to post about something else I care deeply about – equipping employees to do their best and succeed– in their careers, for their own professional development and for the business where they work.  In a recent survey, online career site Glassdoor noted that more than 60% of the employees surveyed said learning new skills or receiving special training is most important in advancing their career and earning a bigger paycheck.  Rusty Rueff of Glassdoor noted “For any employee looking to earn a bigger salary or move up the corporate ladder, they should do their research on how their industry is evolving, including identifying specific skill sets that are in demand.”  Earlier this year an Adobe survey 66% of marketers said they need to be digitally and socially proficient for their company to succeed, yet less than half of the respondents believe they are proficient and 88% believe they become proficient through learning on the job.

Supporting Professional Growth, A Business Differentiator? For all the talk about mobility of employees, when you look at some of the survey day, there is a real desire (and perhaps even an underlying sense of loyalty) to a company that steps forward and supports employee professional growth and development in the social and digital skills field. When you look at some of the surveys (below), the issue of social and digital career growth and development could also be a real differentiator for a company who is concerned about the shortage of skills in the marketplace — and their need to succeed in this space.

Employees and employers recognize the need to grow professional skills: The issue of skills development and training is not just about employees getting ahead, it is also about employers and managers.  Employees recognize the need to constantly grow their skills for changing times.  Employers talk about the need for new skills and the challenge of both retaining and/or finding people with the social and digital skills needed today, often identifying a scarcity of supply in this field.  If social and digital skills are hard to come by, even more reason for employers to think about the inventory of skills they need today and how to train and build that talent from within.

Take a look at the kind of revolutionary view CEOs have about the employee (and the organization) of the future.  This IBM CEO study notes:

  • social and digital channels will become the second most prevalent way to meet with customers (the first remaining one-on-one meetings).  Employees need the social/digital communications skills to be effective in this regard;
  • in a more open, flexible and fast moving environment, employees need skills to collaborate across organizations and take action rather than live by rules and procedures of an organization and its bureaucracy. Culture and values matter more
  • to broadly engage more effectively with customers as individuals, employees need the data and analytics to make effective decisions

Lots of us seem to think there is are skills shortages….but not so  much action to really deliver results:  I have posted this slide before, but I find it so scary I will post it again – Look at the assessment of skills gaps from this wide selection of surveys….and look at the commentary related to action on skills.

skills and business needs


Several finding I am stunned about are:

  1. 74% of Business executives say their company has a digital strategy but only 15% believe they have the skills to achieve it (Forrester)
  2. 90% of companies say they do not have the social, mobile or internal collaboration skills they need – yet only 46% are investing in developing digital skills and only 4% are aligning training efforts with their digital need (Ragan)
  3. Employees recognize the need build new skills (as noted earlier, but also see the Adobe study), yet 30% cite the lack of any training to move forward.

In today’s Business World, People your best and only asset:  I will leave this little drawing by Hugh McLeod right here, because I don’t think I can say it much better:

A great cartoon by @gapingvoid
A great cartoon by @gapingvoid

What you and your team can do to move forward: If you and your team are serious about the possible gap in skill for today’s market; you want to support growth among your employees; you want to move forward and achieve success in the digital and social opportunities (despite the lack of confidence by business executives); and/or you want to ensure agency talent that supports your team is actually filling skill gaps for you so that together you achieve more, then start with a team discussion about what skills you think your business function needs going forward.  As a team discussion you can best identify skill needs and start to surface employee interest in their own skills too.  Use the slide with all the survey data as a discussion starter with your team and get a handle on where your function needs to be and what your team thinks.  Another approach that might help dive into the issue of business relevant skills growth could include an offering we have at SME².

SME² (social media excellence x expertise) starts with what skills and competencies are critical to achieve success for your businesses social and digital strategy.  We have predetermined and defined  more than 30 skills and developed definitions for what would be base intermediate and strategic levels for each skill (although you may have others that need to be added).  Using that customized inventory, we can methodically assess whether you and your team have the skill mix you need to succeed and identify the gaps and paths forward to fill the gaps.

Take the Skills Quiz: If you want a little taste of some skills at various levels, find out how you rank and take the quiz here.

Leave a Reply