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3 Ways to Eliminate Hiring Roadblocks and Improve Workforce Planning

Have you ever considered creating an "education center" within your company?

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All employers, no matter what their size, go through it: They screen qualified candidates, advance the best of the best to the interview stage, then offer the job only to see the employee leave or be let go.

Related: How to Hire Like a Pro

Hiring issues continue to plague all industries and are especially detrimental to smaller organizations. In fact, Wasp Barcode Technologies' State of Small Business Report from 2017 found that 50 percent of small business owners surveyed named hiring new employees as their top challenge.

But, like most issues in the workplace, improving hiring requires more than just focusing on the recruitment process. To improve hiring, employers need to look at the whole picture, including workforce planning.

Following are several tips on improving workforce planning and hiring practices:

Improve data analysis.

"Data" has been a buzzword for a while now and for good reason. Simply put, employers use data for everything from performance management to hiring and more.

For example, Google, which has always led in nontraditional corporate thinking, uses objectives and key results (OKRs) to help employees set their own goals. The company uses People Analytics to assess how effective each person's performance is and to learn how to better his or her performance.

The good news is that performance data isn't reserved for Google-sized organizations. The bad news is that a lot of employers face hurdles in using data in the workplace, which is vital for better hiring.

My own organization, ClearCompany, teamed up with in 2016 to create a report entitled Workforce Planning: A Forward-Looking Approach to Getting the Right People in the Right Jobs. In our research, we found that 63 percent of HR professionals surveyed cited technology issues as a major challenge to the goal of being a high-performing organization.

What was even more troubling was that 44 percent cited a lack of data (and 33 percent cited unreliable data) as major challenges. In other words, either employers lack the technology they need or don't know how to find data that is accurate and actionable.

Without good data, employers can't improve workforce planning or understand what hiring practices need to be improved.

Related: Not Using Big Data for Hiring? You May Be Missing Out on the Best Candidates.

The solution, however, is simple: Invest in proper technology that is easy to use and provides real-time tracking. This helps management track performance and engage in thoughtful 360 reviews and ongoing feedback sessions.

Aside from workforce planning, data also plays a big role in hiring. Unfortunately, only 33 percent of HR pros surveyed said that quality of hire was a common concern at their companies.

This is a missed opportunity because data allows a company to properly assess how well hiring professionals are finding new talent and to identify solutions to improve recruitment. Improving quality of hire as part of the workforce planning strategy, in turn, eliminates higher-level concerns.

That's why it's important to ensure you have good tech in place. That way, you can start a "data club" of tech-savvy employees who can properly train leadership on how to read data and communicate performance metrics to the staff.

These people should also regularly conduct data seminars to educate everyone on how data can and should be a major factor in day-to-day workforce planning and hiring -- among many other processes.

Close the skills gap.

Bringing on new hires who lack certain skills can really slow productivity. Skills gaps are often a complicated matter. They're also a two-sided issue: Current employees need to be competent for their roles, and the company needs to know how to hire skilled talent.

To get current staff up to speed, create a culture centered on education and professional development. Start an education center within the company. There, employees and leadership alike can select skills tracks and teach themselves new competencies through a variety of educational resources.

Next, assign coaching sessions every quarter, where each person gives a short presentation on what skills he or she has learned and how those skills are applied in that person's job.

Another reason for skills gaps, of course, is bad hires, which is why HR needs to review quality of hire reports and find specific aspects of the company's recruiting process that have allowed unqualified talent to earn an offer and advance in the first place.

Use video interviewing to better screen candidates and request that candidates perform a "shadow day." They can spend a full work day observing employees in related roles and even participate in tasks and projects to demonstrate their skill set in action.

Streamline talent management.

Inefficiencies in talent management affect employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity. This is especially costly for smaller organizations that can't afford a major disruption in performance.

Smaller companies need to invest in growing their staff as the companies themselves grow. Because employees working at small organizations often wear many hats, management needs to streamline professional development with a clear, straightforward program.

So, use performance-management data to show employees what their strengths are and help them find a path that aligns with the company's growth. Also, give them a voice in how they want to grow so they're passionate about learning.

Pair employees with each other as learning buddies, where they meet weekly and share what they're learning. Such one-on-one sessions are incredibly successful for companies like Buffer.

Related: The Key to Hiring the Best Employees

Every time these employees meet, they review recent achievements and discuss current challenges. Then, their teams' leads offer guidance, and the employees express their opinions about how to improve their performance.

Overall, talent-management strategies need to be smooth for a workforce-planning strategy to be effective. When employers prioritize employee performance and development as a major focus, they better retain talent and maximize productivity.

In sum, hiring touches multiple aspects in workforce planning, which is why both should be looked at simultaneously. All improvements in the workplace,however, should start with data.

Data enables employers to track and improve each employee's performance, identify and close skills gaps and simplify talent management and employee development.

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