The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 06, 2020 1:00 am

Closing of skills gap more vital

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Everything seems to be changing so fast.

That means the lifespan for skills that make individuals successful in an organization can also decrease more rapidly than people realize, says Chris Milligan, an executive with Degreed, a California-based workforce development technology company.

About 80% of CEOs, based on one study, indicated a lack of skills as their biggest impediment to growth. So if the skills deficiency isn't addressed, strategy won't really matter.

Milligan shared those concerns and some keys to talent development – crucial for talent retention – during a free webinar Wednesday hosted by his company and offered by Chief Learning Officer magazine.

The skills gap has more organizations looking to develop the talent of existing staff, and that's a preferred organizational culture, Milligan said. But a small percentage of organizations – just over 15% – link individuals' skills to their goals, he said.

Shifting can start with simply offering some specifics for staff:

• Guidance. Sharing what skills employees could and should develop to grow.

• Resources. Those tools that are necessary to develop individually and with other team members through day-to-day work.

• Insights. Quantifying the skills and the gaps, along with building habits to visualize progress.

• Opportunities. People can advance their skills and careers through projects or jobs that match their interests.

Milligan pointed out it's cheaper to keep and develop talent than to address turnover. Some attrition is natural and even healthy, but there's also occasional “regrettable attrition,” he said.

Many employees would stick with an employer if they felt the company offered a path for career advancement. Employee development can cost as little as $1,000 for an individual, while the expenses involved in recruiting and replacing an employee can cost from 2% to 150% of their annual salary, Milligan said. The cost is higher when so-called C-Suite, or top executives, must be replaced.

Holiday parties

Less than 1 in 4 employers surveyed this fall by Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicated they planned any sort of holiday party. We reported on that Nov. 1 in our Sunday Business section.

An email last week suggested some employers might be inclined to offer a virtual corporate holiday party from Paint and Sip Live, whichcan provide online wine-and-paint classes with professional instructors, live DJs “and a party atmosphere.”

Social events involving painting and adult beverages have gained interest among some groups promoting get-togethers for couples and girlfriends in recent years. Many of us have seen the artwork of someone who attended such an event, often through social media posts.

The corporate holiday party season is often accompanied by reminders about social etiquette when you're still engaging with people from work, and certainly cautions against drinking and driving. Painting and sipping – virtually – could be a good option for some companies, leaving those potential liability worries behind.

Canvas, paint and brushes are supplied.

The coronavirus has been a bear, but it's also brought out some creativity – including for virtual corporate parties. Paint and Sip says some employers are even planning holiday events starring cooking demonstrations and mailing their employees the necessary food kits.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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