How to assess the skills of your employees

how to assess the skills of your employees
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Assessing the skills of your employees means analyzing the capacities of your workforce to further grow your business. 

One way of assessing the skill set of your employees is by using the “knowledge, skills, attitude” model, or the KSA model.

This is a model that encompasses the value an employee provides in the workspace by assessing their knowledge, their skills, and their attitude. 

According to research, all three ‌elements are important for an employee to become fully competent at your company, and to use their full potential. 

But assessing your employees is only the first step.

It’s essential that you, as their employer, constantly invest in your employees. These are the people that will grow your company and they can only do it if you help them improve their skills. 

If you want to help your employees grow, the first step is to understand what their current skills are. 

There are many ways you can achieve that, which we’ll discuss in this article, but one of the best ways to do that is with skills tests.

Skills tests allow you to objectively measure your employees’ knowledge and abilities, identify weaknesses, and design specific training initiatives to help them develop their skills.

Once you’ve assessed their current skills, you can plan out what you want them to learn. The difference between their current skill level and capabilities and the desired outcome is known as the skills gap. You need to be well-aware of this gap in order to drive performance and growth.  

Keep reading to learn more about assessing employee skills.

What are the benefits of assessing your employees’ skills?

There are many benefits to assessing employees’ skills that go beyond simply understanding individual competencies and strengths. 

Continuously assessing the skills of your workforce enables you to: 

image listing the benefits of assessing your employees’ skills

1. Plan your learning and development initiatives for the future

A company grows only if its employees grow. Learning and development (L&D) is an essential part of helping your employees achieve their full potential and productivity. 

With the help of skills assessments, you can better plan out the future growth of your employees by developing learning & development initiatives that are relevant to them. 

This way, they can contribute more to the growth of the company and stay up-to-date with the newest innovations in the field. 

2. Know the capabilities of your workforce

It’s crucial to understand the capabilities of your employees, because it lets you know what you can and cannot achieve at present, and also helps you make informed decisions on employee workload that’s aligned with teams’ capacities.

This will also allow you to take in as much work as your employees can handle (skill-wise) and will also help you design a recruitment plan that helps you close gaps.

3. Close specific skill gaps

The potential to close skill gaps is probably the most important benefit of assessing your employees’ skills.

Skill gaps are difficult to close at an organizational level, but, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), with the right strategic approach, it’s a challenge that organizations can successfully address. 

Leading a business means ‌you want to achieve specific business goals within a timeline you define. For you to do that, you need to have certain skills in your workforce so you can deliver on your products/services for your clients. 

Employee skill assessment allows you to:

  • Plan recruitment efforts for crucial skills your workforce is currently lacking

  • Upskill your workforce by addressing specific skills gaps

  • Evaluate the progress you’re making towards closing skills gaps

When you understand the gap between the current and the desired state, you can act on it. 

With that in mind, let’s see how to actually assess employee skills and competencies.

How to assess employees’ skills and competencies

Evaluating the skills of your employees is an important step towards making sure your organization is future-proof and can adapt to changing market demands.

In this section, we’ll discuss the different ways you can assess the skills of your employees. 

image listing the different ways to assess employees’ skills and competencies

1. Give them assessment tests

One of the most effective means to collect data on employees’ skills is to give your employees skills tests. 

Tests allow you to get an objective overview of each employee’s strengths and expertise, and, according to research, they’re better competence predictors for success at work than years of experience or specific qualifications.

The best way to use skills tests is in combination with other assessment tools, such as the ones listed below. This way, you can get granular details of specific sub-skills, in order to support your employees with training that’s adapted to their needs—and yours. 

For the best results, we advise you to combine up to five skills tests in an assessment, and to choose the specific tests based on each employee’s role and its requirements. 

TestGorilla has an extensive test library with hundreds of tests designed by subject-matter experts, which you can use to evaluate the skills of your workforce. 

2. Use self-assessments

The first thing you can do is ask your employees to do a self-assessment. With that, your employees will self-reflect on their skill sets, define the areas in which they feel confident, and areas in which they’d like to receive support. 

To get honest self-evaluations, make sure you explain to your staff that you’ll be using these to identify opportunities to invest in their skills, rather than use self-identified weaknesses as liabilities. 

You can also set up mentorship programs where employees who are particularly ‌knowledgeable and experienced in specific areas assist their colleagues and help them grow. 

3. Get 360-degree feedback

Feedback from peers and managers can be easily combined with the self-assessment the employees do. 

To get a full 360-degree assessment of an employee, besides a self-evaluation, you need to ask for feedback from:

  • Peers

  • Managers

  • Subordinates

This will help you get a detailed, in-depth picture that you can use as a data point when assessing the employee’s skills in the future. 

Remember that feedback from co-workers always comes with a degree of subjectivity, so look at general trends and compare opinions. 

4. Ask for customers’ feedback

Another way you can assess employees’ skills, if they work with clients and customers directly, is to ask for their feedback via a brief customer satisfaction survey. 

This way, you can gather data both on your employees’ skills and on customer satisfaction levels. You can then analyze it to understand what skills your employees use when interacting with your customers and to help them improve in specific areas. 

5. Put your employees in business simulations

To assess your employees’ skills, you can put them in business simulations to understand how they would act in specific situations. You can then use this information to help employees improve specific skills, such as their:

Business simulations will vary based on your industry and the specific roles, but are a useful tool when assessing whether your employees have the necessary skills to deal with real-life situations.

What’s next after assessing your employees’ skills?

Your specific strategy will depend on the results from the employee assessments you conduct, as well as on your goals in the medium and long term. 

Once you assess the skills of your employees, you can use this information to: 

What’s next after assessing your employees’ skills?

1. Hire new people

If you realize your organization has important skills gaps, ‌you might need to hire new employees to fill in the gaps. 

For this, you need to create a recruitment strategy in line with the assessment’s results, and use the right combination of talent assessment tools to improve the quality of hire

2. Plan new learning and development initiatives

Maybe you have enough employees with a proven track record and who demonstrate a high level of adaptability, but market demands in your industry have changed and your workforce is no longer prepared to meet your business’ needs. 

For many businesses, that’s a reality.

And indeed, up to 50% of employees will need reskilling by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.

To adapt, you need to create multiple learning and development opportunities for your employees. So what you do is reskill and upskill your employees so their skill sets stay relevant and up-to-date with the current demands of the market.

3. Use a combination of hiring and upskilling initiatives

Of course, you don’t have to choose between either upskilling your existing workforce or hiring new people. You can do both: 

In the short term, maybe you have an urgent need to make a new hire to fill in a vacant position and provide the necessary skills for your workforce now. 

At the same time, in the medium to long term, you might decide to work on adapting both your learning and development and recruitment strategies and provide training opportunities to both existing employees and new hires. 

Investing in your employees, both current and future ones, by combining the two strategies has multiple advantages, as it’ll help you: 

  • Strengthen your employer brand

  • Instill loyalty and trust

  • Enhance employee engagement 

  • Improve productivity

4. Create a benchmark to measure progress

Whether you decide to hire new employees or train and upskill your existing workforce, or a combination of both, you need to create a benchmark to measure progress and assess the efficiency of your strategy. 

One of the best ways to do that is by using skills tests to measure how the skills of your employees are improving with time. You can do that: 

  • At regular intervals: For example, you can measure progress every quarter or every six months.

  • Before and after key training initiatives: You can also administer skills tests to assess the results from specific efforts, such as training sessions, workshops, or certification programs.

Ways to use assessment results to improve performance

There are specific ways in which you can use employee assessment results to improve performance, such as:

image showing the different ways to use assessment results to improve performance

1. Workshops

You can plan workshops to improve the skills of your employees. You can either plan and design workshops internally, or invite consultants or other companies, or sign up your employees for workshops organized by others. 

2. Additional qualifications

A good way to improve the skill sets of your employees is to have them get additional qualifications to complement their current skills and knowledge. 

Many universities and world-renowned educational institutions like MIT, Harvard, or NYU offer online courses and degrees.

3. Certifications 

Getting your employees certified helps improve their skills at work and lowers the skills gap at your organization. 

For example, if your employees are using specific software tools, such as HubSpot or Tableau, you can help them get certified in them by sponsoring certification programs and allocating a certain number of their working hours they can use to get certified. 

4. Reskilling and upskilling

Sometimes, you don’t need to go through long qualification and certification processes to improve the performance of your employees. 

You can provide access to specific tools, such as online courses and libraries, for your employees to reskill themselves, and you can also provide business opportunities for them to develop their skills in real-time.

5. Reducing bias

Skills tests, in particular, provide you with objective metrics on your employees’ skills and that will reduce bias in the workspace. 

You will have quantifiable data that will show you the skill level of each employee, allowing you to compare objectively, address individual weaknesses to improve the performance of your teams, and eliminate bias. 

6. Personalized development plans

Assessment results can help managers in your company create a personalized development plan for each team member. That way, managers can co-create plans with employees, so they’re both accountable for them. You can do this on 1-to-1 meetings managers have with their employees. 

Employees will develop skills they want to develop and the managers will receive the benefit of upskilling in form of improved performance and motivation. It’s a win-win situation for both. 

7. Employee engagement

When you aim to help your employees grow by using skills assessments and by following through with the results, your employees will notice. They’ll realize that the company really wants to invest in their growth, which will positively affect employee engagement. 

And according to Gallup, better employee engagement helps increase productivity and profitability by 18% and 23%, and decreases turnover by 18%. So any initiative that helps you improve the engagement of your workforce will directly impact your business performance. 

Assess your employees’ skills to help your talent grow

Employee skills assessment is key to understanding the value an employee brings to your workplace. You can achieve that with the help of different tools, such as self-assessments, skills tests, 360-degree assessments, and more. 

By evaluating employees’ knowledge, skills, and attitude, you can better understand what they are capable of and identify areas where they may need additional training or mentorship. This is essential in planning out your workforce growth strategy and retaining your best talent. 

With TestGorilla, you’ll find the process to be simpler, faster, and much more effective. Get started for free today.

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