The 3 Crucial Steps to Closing Skills Gap Among Deskless Workforce

It’s no secret that companies across all sectors are struggling with rising costs, inflation, and labor shortages. But companies with deskless employees are facing an even more difficult challenge.

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It’s no secret that companies across all sectors are struggling with rising costs, inflation, and labor shortages. But companies with deskless employees are facing an even more difficult challenge. Not only are they dealing with a labor shortage, they’re facing a massive skills gap, too.

A recent report by TalentCards revealed that 73% of shipping/ distribution companies, and 77% of transportation/ warehousing companies have unfilled positions due to their inability to find qualified workers to fill them.

What’s more, 38% and 45%, respectively, of onboarding managers in these industries report that new hires are lacking the necessary skills for the job at the time they’re hired. This reality has left employers wondering, how can they close the skills gap?

The skills gap among deskless workers, a problem years in the making

The truth is that there is no quick fix that can suddenly produce hundreds of thousands of highly skilled manufacturing employees, construction workers, shipping crews, and more that the economy is demanding. For the last twenty years younger generations have been heavily encouraged to pursue desk-bound careers, and by extension, pushed away from blue collar jobs. The result: employers with deskless workforces are facing ever shrinking candidate pools, and ever increasing demand they can’t keep up with.

But there is a path forward to bridging the skills gap, and it starts with employee training.

Step 1: Create and execute a quality training program

Sixty-nine percent of onboarding managers classified proper onboarding as “very important”, and stated that without it, new hires would fail in their roles. The skills gap is forcing employers to hire under qualified applicants to fill positions, which means these new hires need a significant amount of training to be brought up to speed. What’s more, 32% of these onboarding managers said that they don’t have enough time to devote to training each new hire.

Taking half measures and cutting corners on training initiatives will produce subpar results at best. There’s no getting around the fact that companies need to invest in intensive, quality upskilling. If that means pulling a few of your most experienced employees off the frontline for them to devote a couple of weeks to training your next group of new hires, then so be it. The temporary decline you’ll see in output for those few weeks will pale in comparison to the lack of output you’ll be dealing with indefinitely as a result of new hires being improperly trained.

Step 2: Reinforce that training

Having a process in place to reinforce the information that new hires received during their onboarding is just as important as the onboarding itself. Research on memory and retention has shown that without reinforcement, people forget nearly 100% of newly learned information in just 30 days. In fact, 17% of deskless employees reported that they remember less than half of their training immediately after completing it.

The reality is that if you’re not giving employees a way to practice and review their training, they’re going to forget it. That means the money, time, and resources you invested in building a proper training program will have largely gone to waste. And this cost is far from negligible. Among shipping and distribution companies, 22% of managers reported that the cost of onboarding each new hire is over $5,000. This is also true in transportation and warehousing companies, with 21% reporting the same.

Step 3: Reward you new hires who excel

Regardless of which industry your company is in, deskless or otherwise, here is a scenario that is far too common:

Your company hires an underqualified, but promising employee with the intention of training and mentoring them to grow into their role. The company invests in this person, and they learn the job well, growing into a great performer. Then that employee leaves because now they have the skills for the job, and your competitor offered them significantly more money.

Companies shouldn’t be losing employees like this.

It’s critical that once your new hires reach the point that they are well trained and highly skilled in their roles, you pay them what they’re worth, and not leave them earning the same income as when they started in the company.

If you fail to do so, then all you’ll have done is invested a huge amount of time and money in supplying your competitors with skilled employees. Rewarding your employees and creating a culture that values their contributions is critical to retaining your workforce.

The hard reality is that there’s no magic button to solve the serious challenges that companies with deskless workers are facing— it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fill open positions, and even more so with skilled employees. While this problem may have only become very apparent in the last two years, it’s a problem that has been in the making for much longer. And as such, the only real solution to it will also take time— investing in training initiatives that do a good job of upskilling employees, and making sure those employees are rewarded and want to remain in the company.