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The importance of hard skills development programs for organizations

Recruitment | 8 Min Read

The importance of hard skills development programs for organizations


Hard skills refer to a range of quantifiable teachable skills that can be obtained and enhanced through education, training, experience, and professional development. These skills are specific competencies, knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform particular roles. Hard skills, being job-specific, are relevant to different positions and levels of seniority, which means that each position in an organization will have its unique list of hard skills requirements.

Organizations must focus on upskilling and reskilling employees for relevant hard skills for a job position. These skills are fundamental to building an efficient, productive, and future-proof organization.




How are hard skills different from soft skills?

Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills that define how an individual works and interacts with others. Hard and soft skills are critical in the workplace, but both are very different from one another. The main difference is how they are gained and used in the workplace. Hard skills represent things an individual has learned how to do or use, like proficiencies, tools, and technologies. In contrast, soft skills are the traits that individuals develop over time, like reliability, effective communication, etc. Further, hard skills can be measured quantifiably, and soft skills are often intangible, usually described using qualitative scales.


List of 11 hard skills employees need to develop in an organization

1. Digital marketing

Digital marketing involves businesses reaching out to their potential customers through digital channels, such as email, websites, social media, etc.

Primary hard skills in digital marketing include search engine optimization (SEO) and writing.

  • SEO: SEO refers to optimizing a brand's digital assets to increase its reach through search engine results. One of the best techniques for SEO is building backlinks, which involves link-building strategies for acquiring high-quality inbound links to improve search engine result page rankings, increase brand authority, and drive organic traffic to the brand’s website.
  • Writing: Writing skills form the base of digital marketing and involve creating compelling content that can resonate emotionally with users.
  • Social media: Social media offers organizations one of the best platforms to reach customers. However, each social media platform is different, and organizations must understand this to boost their social media presence effectively. It is essential to know about the algorithms behind the platforms, the KPIs of social media marketing, and the type of content suitable for each platform.

The importance of digital marketing as a skill

Digital marketing is already one of the most dominating advertising techniques. In the crowded digital marketing landscape, organizations need to stand out from their competition and need skilled digital marketing professionals.


2. Data analytics

Today, data and information are abundant and will only grow in the coming times. Organizations need data analytics to transform raw data into meaningful insights. Continuous A/B testing and data-driven decisions are crucial to success, which makes data analysis another essential skill to develop in the future. Structured Query Language (SQL) and Python are languages that find extensive applications in data analytics.

The importance of data analytics as a skill

According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for skilled data analytics professionals is expected to increase by 23% by 2031, and more and more, there is a need to extensively analyze existing data to support their decision-making.


3. Cloud computing

Cloud computing refers to the on-demand access to and availability of IT resources, like computing power and data storage, over the Internet.

The importance of cloud computing as a skill

Thanks to the scalability and low maintenance requirements, cloud computing can increase with time. Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the leading biggest cloud provider in the world, so employees with hands-on experience with AWS will be needed across industries.


4. Product management

Product management involves tracking the entire lifecycles of an organization’s product, from conceptualization to development and launch.

The importance of product management as a skill

Product managers play crucial roles in organizations, leading projects and providing direction to the multiple teams involved in product management, like marketing, development, customer support, etc.


5. UX design

UX or user experience design refers to skills required to design products or services that solve users’ problems while optimizing their overall experience and engagement.

The importance of UX design as a skill

The field of user experience is constantly evolving with emerging trends and technologies. To stay ahead of the competition, UX designers must also continuously upgrade their hard skills.


6. Web development

Organizations must have websites, and for creating and maintaining custom websites, organizations need a strong team of skilled web developers and full-stack engineers with adequate hands-on experience in top web development technologies like CSS, JavaScript, HTML, Angular.js, and React.

The importance of web development as a skill

A well-functioning official website is necessary for any organization that wants to stay relevant in the market. A well-optimized website can do a lot for an organization, from employer branding to lead generation and customer engagement, especially for organizations that sell their products or services online.


7. DevOps

DevOps integrates development and operations using various tools and practices, like Git and Jenkins, and testing frameworks like JUnit, Mocha, etc.

The importance of DevOps as a skill

DevOps can help effectively shorten the software development process. Having employees skilled in DevOps can also help increase collaboration and productivity within the organization.


8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer relationship management generally involves integrating a management platform within operations to manage all interactions of the organization with customers and potential customers.

The importance of customer relationship management as a skill

With the rising need for hyper-personalization of customer service and support, the adoption of CRM platforms is bound to increase across organizations. Some significant advantages of this will include optimized workflows and increased customer satisfaction.


9. Financial reporting and analysis

Financial reporting and analysis involve recording and tracking the organization’s economic activities to create reports and make better financial decisions.

The importance of financial reporting and analysis as a skill

Even today, the demand for skilled financial analysts is rising compared to almost any other complex skill due to the rapidly changing economy and the increasing number of investment options introduced. Financial analysts evaluate different investment opportunities to promote the organization’s growth.


10. GDPR

A recent addition, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that requires all organizations to have robust processes in place to handle personal data.

The importance of GDPR as a skill

GDPR is a requirement for any organization that does business with EU customers. GDPR or similar regulations will soon become the norm worldwide. There are multiple roles in any organization that deal with personal data. For example, HR has access to all employees’ data and business analysts and developers work on customer data. Having GDPR knowledge will help employees ensure that the data handling system is secure.


11. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity refers to the processes and measures put in place to protect computers and electronic systems in an organization from malicious attacks.

The importance of cybersecurity as a skill

Cyberattacks are common place for significant organizations, and having trained employees in cybersecurity can help protect the company from such attacks.




Six reasons why organizations should boost their employees' hard skills

1. Decreased costs

Changing trends and technologies may render an existing talent pool obsolete, but that does not mean organizations should start looking for new employees. The cost of replacing an employee with a recruit will always be higher than that of upskilling existing employees.


2. Better productivity

Hard skills will always be crucial requirements for any job, and learning and development programs to boost the hard skills of employees will lead to improved workplace productivity.


3. Improved innovation

New found knowledge often leads to experimentation, and employees who are updated with the latest trends and technologies can propose innovative ideas or changes to optimize workflows.


4. Improved employer brand

According to a LinkedIn Workplace Learning report, career growth opportunities within the organization and opportunities for learning and developing new hard skills and soft skills are among the top factors job seekers are looking for today. So, learning and development programs have become competitive differentiators for attracting and retaining talent.


5. Enhanced company culture

Learning and growth opportunities are indicators of good company culture, and employees tend to stay with companies that invest in their professional development.


6. Increased ROI

Implementing training and development programs to help improve employees’ hard skills and soft skills, like better employee retention, improved productivity, innovation, etc., also leads to increased ROIs for organizations.


An eight-step plan for implementing hard skills training for employees

Step 1: Identify industry trends

The first step in preparing for any training and development program is finding out what hard skills one needs to develop. This involves monitoring industry trends to understand what skills one must improve.


Step 2: Define business goals

Understand what the organization requires. Confer with team leads and managers to determine organizational needs and create a strategic list of goals that must be met through the training and development programs.


Step 3: Involve employees

Training needs cannot be compiled without consulting employees. Ask them what training they require, the skills they want to hone, the preferred training formats, and when they would like the training programs to be scheduled.


Step 4: Finalize the list

Finalize a list of finalizers to be targeted by the training and development programs, which reflects industry trends that will help the organization and employees grow.


Step 5: Evaluate previous results

Get a list of the training that employees have completed and evaluate progress for modifications.


Step 6: Create the plan

Once all relevant details have been collected, like the list of skills and the current training status, the organization should devise a training plan. The plan should clearly outline the scope of each training, training method, proposed schedule, and success metrics.


Step 7: Assign the training

Begin assigning training programs to employees. Using technology, like learning management systems, will be a good idea to facilitate the management, assigning, and tracking of the training programs.


Step 8: Measure efficacy

Training and development programs work only if employees benefit from them and implement daily learning. After completing the training, a survey should be conducted to get employee feedback.




Six best practices for a successful hard skills training program

1. Integrate training across the organization

Organizations can take several steps to integrate L&D into their talent ecosystem, like creating organization-wide training programs and asking employees to create their own development plans.


2. Ensure there is practical training

Simulations and hands-on projects should be a part of every training program, as hard skills need hands-on experience to improve.


3. Ensure flexibility

Different employees prefer different methods of training. Some may prefer formal courses, while others prefer social learning or on-the-job training. It is essential to ensure that training caters to all these choices, so participation levels are high.


4. Create a schedule

Overloading employees with too much information will not make much difference. Creating a training plan that allows ample time between training courses is essential for employees to soak up the information.


5. Dedicated learning time

Having some hours dedicated to learning once or twice a week will make it easier for employees to attend the programs without affecting their regular workflow.


6. Choose the right technology

Research must be done, and all aspects of learning management systems must be considered before finalizing one. The implementation the organization chooses must be scalable, and it should also be able to support a variety of courses.




How Mercer | Mettl can help

Mercer | Mettl offers a range of learning and development tools to help organizations optimize. The solutions provided by Mercer | Mettl include high potential identification assessments, skills gap analysis tools, leadership development tools, employee engagemsoftent assessments, and tests for checking training effectiveness. With Mercer | Mettl, organizations can quickly assess skills requirements for the present and future, evaluate the current level of hard skills of the employees, identify agile learners, build targeted training plans for upskilling and reskilling employees, and measure the ROI of the training programs.



It is easy to conduct a training course, but building targeted training plans to improve the hard skills of employees requires time and effort. Hence, it is vital for organizations to not only keep future trends in mind when planning a training program but also include all the stakeholders for better outcomes.



1. What are five hard skills and soft skills?

2. How to master hard skills?

3. Which skills are the best for the future in 2030?

4. What is the difference between hard skills and soft skills?

Originally published May 8 2024, Updated May 8 2024

Written by

Harsh Vardhan Sharma, with 6 years of content writing expertise across diverse B2B and B2C verticals, excels in crafting impactful content for broad audiences. Beyond work, he finds joy in reading, traveling, and watching movies.

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