Human Resources

A Guide to Assessing Employees Skills: 10 Methods to Identifying Skills

July 20, 2023
1 minute

The benefits of assessing employees skills

There is a strong case to be made for organizations to invest the time and resources to build a comprehensive skills database. It can be beneficial to employees and organizations alike. At a high level, some of the benefits are:

  • Offer targeted and personalized training and development
  • Identify skills gaps
  • Career pathing and succession planning
  • Employee engagement and retention
  • Resource allocation
  • Enhance team collaboration
  • Performance management
  • A more agile and adaptable workforce
  • Ensure a diverse workforce for greater innovation and problem solving capabilities

Assessing employees' skills is a strategic imperative because it lays the foundation for improved organizational performance, contributing to sustained growth and success.

But there is more than one way to get there. Let’s explore some of the different methods for assessing skills at an organizational scale.

Ten methods for assessing skills

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different methods will make sense for different organizations based on their industry and sector, organizational structure, stage of maturity, business model and size. This is meant to provide some methods and models that can be employed:

1. Skills Assessments and Surveys to gauge employees’ skills and proficiencies. These assessments can be in the form of self-assessments, peer reviews, or manager evaluations. Surveys can be designed to gather feedback on employees' self-perceived skills and areas they believe they need improvement in.

2. Performance Reviews provide data on employees' job performance and the skills they have demonstrated in their roles. They can be a source of skills data about employees skills, skills gaps and upskilling opportunities. 

3. 360-Degree Feedback from multiple sources, including managers, peers, subordinates, and external stakeholders, offers a comprehensive view of an employee's skills.

4. Learning Management Systems (LMS) typically have skills-tracking capabilities, enabling HR to gather skills data – namely, which skills employees are learning, and their progress and proficiency level with that skill. .

5. Skills and Knowledge Testing for specific job roles and responsibilities can help assess employees' proficiency in essential areas. These tests can take the form of practical assessments, written exams, or scenario-based simulations.

6. One-on-One Interviews with employees provides an opportunity for HR professionals to directly inquire about their skills, aspirations, and areas where they feel they could improve. An ideal time to start this process is during employee onboarding and kicking off their employment with a sense of their capabilities and goals while at the organization. Then continuing these conversations at some regular cadence, like quarterly.

7. Skill Certifications and External Assessments can provide objective evidence of employees’ skills and competencies.

8. Data Analytics and People Analytics can help HR gather insights into employee skills and performance trends across the organization.

9. Behavioral Assessments can shed light on employees' personality traits and how they impact their skills and performance in the workplace.

10. AI-Driven Skill Assessment Platforms can analyze employees' work-related data, such as emails, project outcomes, and task completion, to identify strengths and weaknesses in their skill sets.

By employing these methods and tools, HR professionals can gather a comprehensive and accurate understanding of employees' existing skills, identify skill gaps, and design targeted training and development initiatives that foster continuous growth and improvement throughout the organization.

Applying it 

The process of assessing employees' skills is a multifaceted endeavor, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully gathering this crucial information. As organizations vary in their industry, structure, and size, it is essential to choose the methods that align with their unique needs and goals. The ten methods presented in this guide offer valuable insights into employees' capabilities and provide a foundation for making informed talent management decisions.

By utilizing skills assessments and surveys, conducting performance reviews, and leveraging 360-degree feedback, organizations gain a comprehensive view of their workforce's skill landscape. Learning management systems become valuable tools for tracking employee progress and identifying upskilling opportunities. Skill testing, one-on-one interviews, and behavioral assessments contribute to a holistic understanding of employees' strengths and areas for improvement.

Additionally, the integration of skill certifications and external assessments, data and people analytics, AI-driven skill assessment platforms, and job simulations enables HR professionals to harness advanced technologies for deeper insights into employee skills and potential. These diverse methods, when employed strategically, pave the way for targeted training, career development, and succession planning initiatives that fuel continuous growth and foster a culture of learning.

As HR professionals deploy these methods, they create a more agile and adaptable workforce, aligned with the organization's objectives. By prioritizing skills assessment as an ongoing and integral part of talent management, organizations can unlock the full potential of their employees, driving sustainable success and competitive advantage in an ever-evolving business landscape.

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