The best solution for coping with absences in the workplace? Mapping workforce skills

The coronavirus pandemic continues to pile pressure on businesses, which has led to high levels of absences in recent weeks. Employees fall ill, need to self-isolate or request time off to care for their sick children. 

So employers are now calling for an easing of overtime rules, and are considering hiring students and even retirees. And yet, the answer is often right there in front of you. That is, at least, if you have an overview of the available skills in your company.

The first question that team leaders should ask themselves when one of their employees falls sick is: which co-worker(s) can take on their tasks? In reality, this rarely happens, because there is simply no system that has mapped employees’ skills. When you’re looking for a solution, you don’t have to limit yourself to looking within the same team. For example, if you have a WordPress website, the chances are there may be someone in marketing who has already used this tool to build a website in their free time.

The pandemic has highlighted the urgency of achieving agility.  This also explains why the most agile companies rarely complain about staff absences,  as they mainly look to their own employees to fill any gaps. How? They have taken the time to set up a platform detailing their employees’ skills. This means everyone in the organisation always has access to an in-house inventory of competencies and that, in many cases, a solution is just one phone call away.

From diapers to face masks

The demand for agility has also forced some companies to rethink their entire business in the past two years. For example, diaper manufacturer Ontex, playing card producer Cartamundi and even beer giant AB Inbev have all started manufacturing face masks. Such rapid shifts are only possible if you know how to efficiently use your workforce.

This may seem like a snapshot, but it isn’t. Organisations are changing faster than ever, and are continually reinventing themselves. VUCA is an apt description of the world today: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Any company that is prepared for this has a unique opportunity to reinvent itself.

Agility is an asset on today’s labour market, where the war for talent has been waging for a number of years. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to hire the right profiles. Given that many jobs have changed in the past five years, employees are now hiring based on attitude, choosing to see skills as something that people can learn over time. This is another reason to have a good overview of your employees’ current skills and the growth paths that they can follow.

Mapping skills on a platform

With skills management, companies are able to guarantee continuity more easily. Ultimately, employees and their talents are the most important intellectual property of any company. Unfortunately, 80% of all companies with more than 100 employees have not mapped the talents and expertise of their workforce.

And it is these companies that are currently sounding the alarm. They are unable to check whether they have someone internally with the right skills to step in. And even if they have someone suitable in house, who is in charge of finding them? HR or management?

Fortunately there is a technology that can help organisations map out these skills. A platform such as huapii allows employees to classify all the skills that they have: from hard knowledge about machine learning to organisational skills picked up while running tournaments for their local football club. Being able to tap into the right skills may make all the difference when you are working against a deadline. And it can save your company lots of money, because you don’t have to hire in freelancers.

Career ownership

Such a platform has lots of other benefits, supporting a modern organisation in both the short and long term. Both HR and team leaders can see at a glance which skills are available, who can help with shortages in parallel with their other duties, which career opportunities employees have and in which skills they need to invest. The organisation stands to benefit, and employees are also happy to take more ownership of their careers.

Nowadays people are no longer interested in merely doing their job. They want to grow and feel a connection with the organisation they work for – and nothing is more effective than showing them that their skills are valued. A talent platform enables them to chart their own career objectives and take advantage of in-house opportunities. What’s more, it also promotes employee retention.

Prepare for the future today

After two years of the pandemic, there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. But there is no ignoring the fact that there are still many more challenges ahead. After COVID-19, a return to the old way of working seems almost illusory. The pandemic has brought about huge changes, and organisations should not be fooled into thinking that it will now be back to business as usual.

Alongside a possible future pandemic, there are other disruptors on the horizon too, such as climate change, an economic crisis, the emergence of digital currencies, hybrid working and the metaverse. This is why it’s so important to have an overview of in-house skills. The outlook may seem sombre but agile companies are not that worried. Organisations that map skills today and offer employees the levers for further growth will be able to easily cope with change. They may even emerge stronger from a new crisis.

So consider disruption as an opportunity for growth –  keeping your business up and running today and giving it the opportunity to excel in the future.



Co-Founder & COO

I always found a way to get or to create for myselfs jobs where I could achieve my life’s purpose: connecting with people and helping them grow (while growing myself).

After studying general management and HR in Lyon, I joined Solvay where I had several rich & diverse HR experiences. I worked in Lyon, Brussels and Paris, to finally come back to Brussels and accept the challenge of creating and managing Solvay’s Digital Studio flagship.

Being an intrapreneur leading an innovation incubator, taking part of creating a new ways of working platform that transformed the company culture and HR woke up my inner intrapreneur and made me jump into co-founding huapii!

Today at huapii I use my HR and change experience to make the workplace a developing and empowering place to be.