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  • Writer's pictureDan Malkoun

Is your company jobs or skills based?

Skills transformation can only be truly effective if the foundations are solid. We focus on why fixing the core is key to success.




“A job architecture provides the foundation for implementing a skills-based approach within an organisation”.


Organisations are evolving at an unprecedented pace. The typical enterprise organisation has undertaken five major changes in the past three years — and nearly 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years


One of the key impacts of this rapid evolution is the need for a radical, new approach to how we define and describe jobs and work.


When the pace of change was relatively slow, jobs could be described using traditional job descriptions. These would define the exact nature of the work that an individual needed to do, usually in a long list of tasks and remained static over time.

However, an increasing number of organisations are now recognising that defining work in these ways has downsides, the key one being that it can put the brakes on organisational agility.

Transitioning to a skills-based approach can provide organisations with the flexibility required to adapt during periods of significant change. However, reaping the advantages of this approach hinges on the initial investment of time and effort to establish a robust foundation through a well-designed and effectively managed job architecture.


What does a skills-based approach to defining jobs look like?

A skills-based approach is where organisations define work by deconstructing jobs into critical tasks and outcomes and identifying the current and emerging skills required.

A skills-based approach to defining work and jobs involves focusing on the skills and abilities needed to perform tasks and contribute to an organisation’s goals. There is less focus on where jobs and people sit within a business and more focus on understanding the jobs, works and skills required across the whole organisation. The work that needs to be done is broken down into discrete segments of work and the requirements are mapped into identifiable skills clusters.

Instead of relying solely on traditional job descriptions, organisations adopting this approach are developing skills-based job profiles that focus on the skills necessary for the role. This enables a clearer understanding of what is expected and helps in recruiting, evaluating, and developing talent. It also makes it easier to spot skills gaps then make plans to fix these either by redeploying people with the relevant skills internally or hiring externally.


What are the benefits of moving to a skills-based approach?

Recent research by Deloitte found clear benefits of a skills-based approach both in terms of better business results and also an improved employee experience. Organisations who had embedded a skills-based approach were:

· 63% more likely to achieve results than those who had not adopted skills-based practices

· 107% more likely to place talent effectively

· 57% more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively and efficiently

· 52% more likely to innovate

· 79% more likely to have a positive workforce experience


What are the barriers?

In the Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 93% of respondents said moving away from a focus on jobs – and towards skills – was important or very important to their organisation’s success. Yet only 20% believed that their organisation was very ready to tackle the challenge.


From our experience of working with clients moving to a skills-based approach, the main barrier is a chaotic job architecture.

A job architecture forms the building blocks of an organisation. It provides the framework upon which you can extract, align and manage how skills are distributed and required across the organisation.

If an organisation’s job architecture is chaotic, inconsistent and without governance, moving to a skills-based approach will be an uphill battle.

A well-designed job architecture can play a crucial role in facilitating the transition to a skills-based approach by:

· Providing a clear structure for mapping and assessing the skills required for each job role

· Enabling organisations to conduct skill gap analyses by comparing the skills and competencies of current employees with the skills required for their roles

· Allowing organisations to create detailed job descriptions that are centred around the skills and competencies required for each role

· Helping create development plans for employees based around skills. Employees can then see which skills are necessary for their current roles and future career growth and training development opportunities can be planned around these

· Providing a framework to show potential career paths up and around the organisation. A job architecture can also help identify transferable skills – critical for organisational agility

Reviewing your organisation's job architecture framework can feel like a daunting prospect. We've worked with organisations that have spent more than 18 months carrying out this task manually. If it takes this long, then by the time you've completed it, it's likely out-of-date. Maintenance and governance of a manual process creates additional challenges. However evolving is not just worth it but essential

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