Identifying the problem

When employees can’t read, write, add numbers or measure correctly, it can cost your business. The costs come from higher accident rates, higher staff turnover rates, missed deadlines, unnecessary wastage and mistakes.

But there is good news. A well-trained, highly literate and numerate workforce will help your business be more productive.

How can you tell if employees in your organisation have poor literacy and numeracy skills? Literacy and numeracy issues are often hard to identify, but when you know what to look for the skills gaps will become obvious.

Signs that your employees may have poor literacy or numeracy skills:
  1. Mistakes: work frequently has to be re-done. Basic errors hold up the workflow. Instructions are often misunderstood.
  2. Poor paperwork: forms, reports and job costings are completed incorrectly or left unfinished.
  3. Excessive wastage: wastage levels are higher than they should be. Putting in place incentives or penalties to reduce wastage makes little or no difference.
  4. Limited feedback from employees: employees are reluctant to make comments, suggestions or give feedback. They shy away from problem solving and decision making.
  5. Customer complaints: customers complain frequently about receiving no response, incomplete orders or the wrong information.
  6. Accidents: your business has more workplace accidents – or near accidents – than it should, even though you provide health and safety training.
  7. Resistance to new initiatives: your employees resist making changes and come up with excuses to avoid starting a new initiative or taking on more responsibility.
  8. Staff turnover and absenteeism: staff turnover is higher than you’d expect. Your employees take a day off when training is scheduled. They turn down promotion opportunities.