Learning & Development, Recruiting

Multi-Skilling During the Great Resignation

The challenges of the Great Resignation are certainly not lost on employers, few of which expect any kind of turnaround in the near future. According to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson (WTW), 83% of employers expect to have problems attracting employees in 2022 compared with 62% that reported such difficulty in the first half of 2021. This is also more than double the 33% that reported problems in 2020. Additionally, 74% of employers said they expect to have trouble keeping workers in 2022. That’s up from 51% in the first half of 2021 and only 22% in 2020.


Thinking Differently About Talent Retention

In this environment, many employers are using time-tested strategies to attract more talent, such as pay increases, generous benefits, and flexible work arrangements. But instead of (or perhaps in addition to) using these strategies to attract and retain workers, some organizations are looking for ways to do more with less. Multi-skilling is a key part of that equation.

Multi-skilling refers to training employees on more than one skill area or job function within the organization. The term “cross training” is also often used. For example, a mechanic might be trained on how to process customer payments at a body shop, or a server in a restaurant might be trained on how to prepare simple dishes when the kitchen is short-staffed.

Multi-Skilling Benefits Employees and Employers

Multi-skilling can provide employers with greater flexibility when staff become unavailable on short notice, like if they become ill, or in the face of turnover. As companies struggle to find and retain talent, more and more employers are adding multi-skilling to their toolkit to keep their company running. Compared with the previous 3 years, respondents to the recent WTW survey were 68% more likely to identify multi-skilling as important over the next 3 years.

The labor market is one of supply and demand. Companies that are looking to improve their position can either increase their supply of labor (by hiring and retaining more staff) or reduce their demand, and multi-skilling is an increasingly popular strategy to do just that. Until the labor market gets easier on employers, expect to see more businesses leaning on this strategy.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.