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Have you got the right people performing the right tasks?

Thursday 30 April 2020 Workforce Management

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By Miles Reucroft

At its most prosaic, competency management is simply a matter of ensuring that someone is adequately qualified to perform a role in your business. Basic things such as degree certificates and driving licences, where necessary, are straightforward to validate and highlight the competency of someone for a role. In industries where ongoing qualifications and re-training are required, however, competency management can be an altogether more challenging task.

Ongoing competency assessments are common in a lot of sectors. They can be things like regular eyesight checks for transport operators such as bus and train drivers, through to ongoing checks into the abilities of inspectors across various fields. How do you keep a track of when these tests are due and when they have been fulfilled?

A lot of records are maintained online. It is possible to verify the status of someone’s driving licence with the DVLA, for example, which makes basic checks very efficient and straightforward. For obvious reasons, firms which require that someone holds a valid driving licence in order to work for them would need to check this, then make a record of the fact that they have checked this. The risk of failing to fulfil such basic competency management checks is vast.

Similarly, criminal record checks are conducted easily online, which are something some companies will run on employees, especially where they are involved in care industries – it would be crazy not to check someone’s background before hiring them as a worker in a nursery or in the education system.

That is competency management that we are all familiar with. But what else can competency management unlock for firms? Where you have a multitude of employees, collating information on their backgrounds, qualifications and career paths can help you realise efficiencies in your processes by best placing them to conduct tasks which best fit with their competencies. This can be incredibly useful in assessing your existing workforce to cover for short- and medium-term shortages in personnel.

To use transport as an example, if a bus operator is experiencing staff shortages due to illness (a pertinent point during these Coronavirus times), it makes sense to explore which of the remaining drivers has experience of the routes affected. Utilising a more experienced driver to cover gaps on a route makes more sense than using an inexperienced driver who would need to familiarise themselves with the route.

This has added implications for the drivers themselves, too. We have covered previously the alarming pre-eminence of fatigue amongst bus drivers; scheduling them to familiar routes and having a thorough understanding of who is appropriately positioned to drive which routes and when can play a fundamental role in running a safe and effective service.

Similarly, with inspection bodies it’s important that appropriately qualified inspectors are conducting relevant inspections in institutions such as schools and airports. The ongoing competency of such staff also needs to be regularly tracked. If inspections are undertaken by inadequately qualified staff, there can be a lengthy knock on affect. This can be time consuming where inspections are inappropriately marked by underqualified staff and must be re-run.

By having a clear understanding of each employee and their qualifications and experiences, it can make the task of scheduling and workforce management much easier, which in turn improves efficiency and results.

Competency management can play a vital role in ensuring that you have appropriately qualified practitioners in key roles. It can also check that your workforce is being efficiently deployed to deliver your services in safe and timely fashion. With the use of the right tools, it can go beyond the basic and help inform future work patterns, keeping the right people in the right places, undertaking the right tasks.

Keeping your processes working is an ongoing challenge, but how do you keep track of your workforce’s qualifications and suitability for the roles you assign to them?

Have you got the right people performing the right tasks?