Many organizations continue to struggle to attract talent that strategically aligns with organizational core values, culture and a purely defined skillset. When that position requires more skill and training than the worker possesses, the employer faces the quandary of whether they are responsible for investing in the employee.

The shortage of specialized talent is leading to intense competition between industries to attract talent that can help secure the future of their company. Sometimes that talent may land in the wrong position but has a skill and level of expertise that may be more beneficial somewhere else in the organization.

To meet immediate productivity needs, however, some employers have settled for any skill to fill the vacant positions in an “all-hands-on-deck” approach or to retain employees who are experiencing burnout. Employers are also becoming more flexible with hiring talent that possess a transferable skill, with the hope that they can easily perform the tasks and responsibilities of a crucial job with minimal training or coaching.

Employers need to ask themselves if their present talent has a ready-to-go skillset or training to benefit the company. And if not, can an unskilled worker be trained up to occupy a critical position that impacts productivity?

Improving Skills and Finding Solutions

A recent Harvard Business School study reports unskilled workers are often untapped resources and that improving the skills of incumbent workers is often a more effective solution than looking externally. It is not always a matter of looking for who fits the job but creating a necessary position that fits the skill that already exists.

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Of course, that may not always be the case for certain organizations that require a specialized skill. The caveat is that some veteran workers are comfortable with routine tasks and responsibilities with a low level of interest of learning anything new that disrupts their comfort zone.

Studies also show that workers who feel underpaid are often experiencing a lack of investment by their employers. This in turn can lead to turnover, causing resistance to invest by the company and creating an endless loop that negatively affects the organization.

Resetting Focus and Adding Value

Employers can, however, reset their focus and add value to a potentially unskilled or under-developed worker with these three applicable tips:

  • Reimagine how to engage a worker who has the potential to be repurpose for other positions within the organization
  • Resist the urge of hiring opposing arguments that support past experiences on taking a chance on an employee that can be repurposed.
  • Rewire the culture that prevents the disposal of salvageable employees who require more training to develop a skill that will greatly benefit the organization

Investing in the future of a workforce should always be a viable factor, while improving productivity and strengthening the core of your employees will rely on the willingness to learn and pivot. Leaders are constantly making critical decisions that will impact the future of their organization but without trained and skilled workers, the operation will fail.