How to Identify Skills Gaps Within Your Small Business

How to Identify Skills Gaps Within Your Small Business

Employees are the lifeblood of any SME (Small Medium Enterprise), but only if they have the right tools and skills training to use them. Colin Blumenthal, Vice President, IT Services at Sharp Europe, looks at how employees can help identify and overcome skills gaps within their organisations. 

Whether working remotely or in the office, delivering the right training at the right time can empower employees to be more productive. However, there is more to being a beneficial employee than mere training alone. Pan-European research carried out by Sharp Europe surveyed 5,000 SMEs and identified that a lack of employee competence with IT was one of the biggest tech challenges facing their business. 

However, when we look at the daily running of businesses, it is not just IT skills that need to be considered, as the survey also found that when it comes to time spent working away from the office, over a third of employers believe that staff productivity suffers. This can be caused by insufficient connectivity to devices and networks or could equally be issues around how an employee’s desk or table is set up when working from home. 

These on the surface of it may not be seen as skills gaps, but if they hinder productivity and hamper employee well-being, they are an issue in need of being resolved.  

Understanding Employee Skills Gaps 

Understanding the skills gaps facing employees is an ongoing challenge, and one that SMEs need to constantly address across all areas of the business if they are to grow. This is especially true as we enter the age of artificial intelligence, such as Microsoft Copilot, as the necessity to quickly adapt and adopt new ways of working becomes ever-more critical. 

Skills gaps in any organisation can be overcome through training, support, and continuous learning. But before issues can be resolved they first need to be identified. Therefore it is essential for business owners to learn how to identify skills gaps within their operations – but where do these skills gaps lie? 

Below is a checklist of the key concerns employers must look to address if they are to have a productive and healthy workforce in the office, and when working remotely. 

Digital Literacy: From understanding hardware to using the right software tools, remote workers rely heavily on the technology provided by the business. Therefore, having strong digital literacy skills is essential for business success. Through continued training and regular refresher courses, employees will become proficient in using various software applications, communication tools, and online collaboration platforms.

Cybersecurity Awareness: Most security breaches within a business are caused by human error. As a result, workers should be aware of cybersecurity risks, such as phishing attacks or data breaches, when using digital tools. Our research shows that 33% of European business have been impacted by a computer virus attack at some point. Additionally, studies have found¹ that small business are more frequently the target of cybercrime. Read our Top Tips for more understanding around cybersecurity risks. 

Health and Ergonomics: Home working means something different to every person, from a dedicated room to sitting on the sofa or hot desking on the dining room table. What is clear, employees need to be armed with the information around proper ergonomics, regular breaks, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Otherwise, poorly defined home office setups can impact physical and mental health of employees. 

Communication Skills: Collaboration and communications tools, such as Microsoft Teams, have fundamentally changed the way we work. Not everyone needs to be in the office every day. However, learning how to communicate in a clear and concise manner is essential, and employees need to develop skills on how to share via emails, chat messages and in virtual meetings.

Self-Motivation and Resilience: Remote work can be isolating at times. Building resilience or having the ability to adapt to changes in circumstance, helps employees cope with challenges and maintain mental well-being. Teaching employees’ skills on how to work without direct supervision will help them stay motivated and focused. This can be achieved through a variety of approaches, from setting goals, maintaining a routine, to learning when to step away from work and just take time for yourself.

Time Management: Working from home requires self-discipline and effective time management. Employees need to prioritise tasks, set boundaries between work and personal life, and avoid distractions. We have added additional time management tips to our Real World Hub

Addressing these skills gaps through training, support, and continuous learning can enhance office workers’ effectiveness while working remotely and in the office. If you would like to know more about how we’re helping organisations with real world issues resolve them with real world solutions, check out our how to improve business productivity content hub.