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When the labor market churns, attrites and constricts like the talent cycle we’re in, employers struggle to know how to close their talent gaps. The instinct is to rush to fill the top of the people funnel with more bodies, but acquiring external talent is expensive and time-consuming. It’s also wasteful, even disrespectful, considering the human skills you’ve already acquired who are sitting inside your organization largely uncategorized, underutilized, and aching to be developed and deployed for greater business value. So perhaps the most interesting, innovative, and sustainable approach to closing workforce gaps, adapting to fast-changing business conditions, and ultimately deploying people value for business value is to finally solve for skills.

To consider people skills for business value, we need to focus on 3 things.


1. CAPTURING SKILLS: If we are to deploy people skills for business, we need to capture them. What is the repository for accurately and consistently storing skills in a usable, centralized way? In today’s heavily siloed HR and people function, some skills are captured and stored in transactional Talent Acquisition systems. Some skills may also be captured in workforce planning systems, some in talent profiles which are filled out incredibly inconsistently, some in learning systems, and yet more within all our disparate business and functional systems. Capturing accurate skills data is one thing, but it must be stored within a single source of truth before it can be understood, mapped to the business, and leveraged strategically. Giving employees and managers visibility into what skills are valued by the organization (and how they’re valued) fosters shared purpose and informs both staffing and career planning.

2. ACTING ON SKILLS: When skills data is consistently captured and accurately stored, using it to assess demand and build workforce plans is just the first step. Once they are developed, they need to be used to take action. Specifically, they can be used to:

a. Develop and mobilize talent within the organization, essentially creating an internal talent marketplace that allows people to develop themselves and grow in their careers through combination on-the-job experience, learning from others, and education and training. People generally don’t want to leave; they leave because they feel they have to leave based on value they’re either enabled to deliver or prevented from delivering to the business.

b. Fill any remaining gaps by acquiring talent from outside the organization. This includes recruiting talent to fill targeted, skills-based roles. It also includes filling needs with contractors and contingent labor. And when organizations do this, they should be capturing and keeping up with the skills development of this ‘external’ talent pool.

3. PLANNING WITH SKILLS: Planning what organizations will need in the future requires a fundamental understanding of which skills translate to business capabilities the organization can then align to projects and programs and demand. Workforce planning based on skills demand is much more agile than basing it on job profiles, which are generally conflated, outdated, and redundant. Planning with skills requires adoption of skills as a common currency, a culture of skills (see gap, fill gap), and a flexible approach to how fractional parts of people might be mapped to programs and projects, not singular jobs. For most organizations, this is the workforce of the future – fluid, nimble, democratized, and deconstructed.

So the real challenges around skills are that we don’t capture them, we don’t centralize the data, and – if and when we do – we don’t share this information across disparate systems and siloed people functions/programs, and we don’t use a common skills vocabulary. If we were to tackle these highly solvable challenges, we create opportunities to better deploy our own people, driving engagement, retention, and development. We also uncover opportunities for automation, understanding those business processes better served by automation than human reskilling/upskilling. Finally, this forces a better approach to acquiring external talent in the open marketplace, attracting, assessing, and selecting future-proofed skills for the business rather than the current clumsy approach of matching job history to job profile.


When organizations address the three key areas of focus when it comes to skills, they can begin to create a skills culture to support agile workforce planning, intelligent talent engagement and development, and better informed attraction and retention strategies. “Create a model where you document and govern what skills are most important for the business,” says Mike Brennan, Chief Service Officer and Co-Founder at Leapgen. “Gaps in skills management cause friction in career growth and development efforts that help you retain who you want to retain and attract who you want to attract. So it needs to be addressed. This starts by defining who is responsible and accountable for skills management.”

Jason Averbook, CEO and Co-Founder at Leapgen, and Jim Holincheck, Vice President of Advisory Services, recommend a hub and spoke approach for skills utilization. “Ideally, there is a central hub of skills,” suggests Averbook, “and the business spokes consume and augment that data. This is how you democratic skills for greater people and business value.” “From a technology perspective,” confirms Holincheck, “the hub and spokes communicate in a publish and subscribe metaphor with some sort of transformation capability in between to account for taxonomy differences. This is how you put skills to work for the business.”

Jess Von Bank, Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Leapgen and long-time advocate of both candidate and employee experience, weighs in. “A future-proof business will eliminate silos across its talent function, pull the thread of people and skills data through holistic employee life cycles, leverage that same data to design workforce journeys for optimal effectiveness, and reap the benefits of a data-rich, fluid, truly agile workforce.”



Jess Von Bank
Jess Von Bank is an 18-year industry veteran and impassioned evangelist of the modern candidate and employee experience. As both a former recruiting practitioner and an expert in bringing TA Tech and HCM vendor solutions to market, Jess looks to broaden executive mindset to better design and deliver a workforce experience that exceeds the expectations of talent and the needs of the business.

Jess offers specialized expertise in talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, employer branding, DEI&B, brand-building, and storytelling. She iis the Head of Marketing for Leapgen, a digital transformation company shaping the Now of Work. She also runs the Now of Work, Leapgen’s global community for HR, Talent, and workforce experience professionals.

Jess is an active community emcee, ambassador for women’s and girls’ organizations, and President of Diverse Daisies, a nonprofit for girls’ enrichment and empowerment. She lives  in Minneapolis, where she races for free swag and raises her 3 daughters.

Jason Averbook
Jason Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources, the future of work and the impact technology have on that future. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation company helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.

Prior to founding Leapgen, Jason Averbook served as the CEO of The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC). In 2005, he co-founded Knowledge Infusion LLC and served as its CEO until 2012, when the company was sold to Appirio. Earlier in his career, he served as the Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio Inc., where he led the HCM business. He has also held senior leadership roles at PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation. Jason has more than 20 years of experience in the HR and technology industries and has collaborated with industry-leading companies in transforming their HR organizations into strategic partners.

Mike Brennan
As Chief Service Officer, Mike Brennan is responsible for Leapgen’s Services organization, providing leadership by managing our rockstar Leaper team, methodology, growth and profitability. He also works with our Sales, Marketing and Delivery Teams to manage relationships with clients and ensure their success. Mike has nearly 20 years of enterprise consulting experience in both HCM and CRM with a strong track record for partnering with customers and building high-growth teams.

He spent over a decade at Appirio, most recently as a Partner collaborating with clients to solve problems with Appirio services. Mike was also the Practice Leader of Appirio’s Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) Practice and Knowledge Infusion’s SAP SuccessFactors Practices. Mike started his career as an Industry Analyst with IDC, a global market intelligence firm where he consulted with solutions providers and advisd equity firms conducting due diligence in the HR solutions market.

Jim Holincheck
Jim Holincheck has more than 25 years of experience in the HCM technology industry and is the Vice President of Advisory Services at Leapgen. Jim has spent his entire career  working with customers to strategize, select, implement, support, and optimize their usage of enterprise applications. As a seasoned industry veteran, Jim brings a wealth of practical insight to the role. Before joining Leapgen, Jim served as the Vice President of Customer Deployment Applications at Workday where he led Workday’s Services Strategy in 2012 and 2015, and then moved into product management to build and lead the Adoption applications team.

Jim launched his career in Chicago at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in its Software Intelligence group, where he worked on the full lifecycle of Financial and HCM application projects. After ten years at Andersen Consulting, Jim moved to Giga Information Group (acquired by Forrester),where he was an industry analyst covering ERP applications. In 2000, he joined a startup, IQ4hire, to create a consulting marketplace around ERP and CRM applications. In 2002, Jim joined Gartner as an analyst covering the HCM market, where he also managed the research agenda for Financials, HCM, and Procurement applications.


Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the NOW of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.