What is a gap analysis?

A gap analysis in workforce planning is a process that looks at an organization’s workforce and its skills and compares it to the skills required to reach its key goals. It is used to identify potential deficiencies in an organization’s current workforce and abilities. Gap analyses aim to help an organization succeed by allowing it to make strategic plans for upskilling and hiring. 

Why should HR leaders care about gap analyses?

Companies need workforces with specific abilities and skills to achieve their goals. A gap analysis can help you identify which skills your workforce already possesses and which you need to work toward attaining either through hiring or training. 

Having a clear understanding of the skills your organization may be lacking allows you to make strategic plans for future growth. You can strategically determine which skills and experience you need to look for in new hires, both now and in the future, in the event of personnel changes or new products and/or teams.

In addition to helping you make smart decisions about hiring, a gap analysis can also increase your understanding of your current workforce. You can think of a gap analysis as a people inventory that allows you to make strategic plans for growth, promotions, and training needs. 

Ultimately, a gap analysis can help point your HR department toward important areas of focus such as

  • Internal hiring
  • Retraining
  • Creating new positions
  • Professional development
  • Restructuring

What can HR leaders do to execute a successful gap analysis?

You can break down a gap analysis into a few key steps:

  1. Determine the scope of the analysis. What questions are you looking to answer? What outcomes do you want to achieve?
  2. Evaluate the current state of your workforce. Always rely on data and facts, and never make assumptions. This is about getting a full picture of the current status, so do not hesitate to ask questions and dig for answers. 
  3. Determine the ideal future state. If everything went as desired, what would your workforce look like in terms of skills and abilities? Be as detailed as possible.
  4. Compare the current state with the ideal future state. Based on a summary of these results, you can present recommendations about how to bridge the gaps you’ve found.

Why should gap analyses be part of modern HR strategy?

A smart HR professional always bases good decision-making on data-based strategy, especially when it comes to something as crucial as your workforce. After all, your people are the heart of your organization, and their skills and abilities are what ultimately decide what you can achieve. Rather than making hiring, training, and development decisions based on tradition, hunches, or wishful thinking, gap analyses set you up for long-term success by putting strategy at the forefront.