Many employers may find they have people with mismatched skills in their workplace.  If so, this is probably damaging productivity and profitability within the business or charity.

Many employers look for skills that aren’t needed to get the job done.   Almost half of employees in the UK are in jobs with mismatched skills.  They may be over- skilled for the job.  They might not have the skills which are needed.  Or they might have the wrong qualification, or no qualifications or experience at all.

report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) in 2018 found that over a third (37%) of workers have the skills to cope with more demanding jobs.  Additionally, many people with degrees are in jobs which do not require such a high level of qualification. Conversely, one in ten people said they were lacking the skills needed to carry out their job effectively.  The report concluded that as many as half of UK workers could be in the wrong job, based on their skill level.

Why does it matter if your employees have mismatched skills?

Mismatched skills bring negative impacts for employees.  This has a knock-on negative effect on organisations.

For employees, the CIPD survey found that over-skilled workers earn less than those whose skills are well-matched to their jobs.  This can result in a long term inability to increase their salary to a level they feel equals their skills. In turn, this can lead to resentment.  On the other hand, someone may not have  the relevant skills for their job. In this case, they can become stressed, anxious or depressed.  They may feel the need to work longer hours than is healthy.

Other issues for employees who have mismatched skills may include:

  • reduced chances of promotion;
  • difficulty in getting a new job;
  • poor job satisfaction;
  • lack of trust in the employer or their colleagues;
  • lower confidence.

Why does an employer need to worry about this?

For employers, this is a key factor in productivity levels within the organisation. If our employees have mismatched skills, they are less likely to do a good job for us.   Their motivation and job satisfaction will suffer.  As a result, they may become resentful and even disruptive.   Their sickness absence levels are likely to increase.  All of these things are difficult to manage in the workplace and result in cost (in time and money) for the employer.

You may start to wonder why you have been unable to recruit a more satisfactory and happy employee.  Employers often think that it is difficult to recruit the right people.  But it may be more accurate to say that they are not even looking for the right people.

Additionally, you may find that employees are leaving only a short time after they started working for you.  Over-skilled employees will want to leave and find a job which is better matched to their skills.  And under-skilled employees may just be very unhappy because they struggle to do the job.

All of these things affect the overall productivity of your workforce.  And that increases your costs and reduces your profits.

How can I address the problem of mismatched skills?

If you ensure your employees have the right skills for their jobs,  then they will be happier in the workplace. And you will benefit from higher productivity and increased profitability.

How can you avoid mismatching skills to jobs in your organisation?  There are some key areas where you might want to take some action.

  • Recruitment . A good place to start is to review your recruitment process.  Have you got a recruitment strategy? If so, does it need to be adjusted?  How accurate are your job descriptions? Have you reviewed your job descriptions lately?
  • Skills Development And Training. Is it time for you to invest in some training? Where job holders are under-skilled, you could arrange some skills development.  Clearly this will address specific problem areas.  But it can also send a powerful message that you value your employees .
  • Conducting a skills audit. This can give a clear picture of the skills you already have in your workplace. You may be unaware of some of them.  It is certainly likely that you will find a number of areas where some adjustments can be made in terms of job design or training plans.   It could even lead to some restructuring if you can move people around to address some of the key skills gaps.
  • Job design. Once you understand the skills you have in your workplace, you can prioritise better use of those skills.  Then you can adapt how well  and where those skills are used.  You can then ensure you have the right jobs with the right people in them.  And you can recruit and train others, as necessary.
  • Management training. Your managers are critical to the success of this whole process. It will pay you to ensure they have the skills to support employee development. You may want to review your management practices as well .  And ensure your managers are confident in those practices.

What benefit will it bring?

If you can address these key areas, your employees may start to use their skills fully and appropriately.  This will bring them increased levels of job satisfaction.  They are likely to be able to earn more throughout their career. They will find they have more confidence and less stress.

This can lead to increased loyalty, trust and motivation.  Your retention rates will go up and the money you need to spend on recruitment will reduce.  All of this leads to higher productivity, more rapid growth and – ultimately – better profitability for your organisation.

Huge thanks to my work colleague and friend, Jill Aburrow for contributing this guest blog:

Jill Aburrow runs a strategic HR consultancy business – JMA HR .  She provides strategic HR advice and support to Small Businesses who want to improve loyalty, growth and profit. If you want to see more articles like this, why not join the JMA HR mailing list?  Jill has been a professional strategic HR advisor for over two decades. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Employment Law.

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