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Four ways the soft skills gap is affecting your business

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The growing importance of soft skills in the workplace has been well documented. As recent generations have devoted more and more time and energy to the development of digital skills, we have seen a visible decline in the standard of soft skills.

A recent survey undertaken by Payscale and featured in Forbes found that “60% of managers claim the new graduates they see taking jobs within their organisations do not have the critical thinking and problem solving skills they feel are necessary for the job.” (1)

Soft skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving are absolutely crucial to the success of any business, however, in recent years we’ve seen skills like these swept under the carpet.

Research undertaken by McDonald’s found that “UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five said they would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54%) have never included soft skills on their CV. It would suggest there is a lack of value placed on such skills in business and society as a whole.”(2)

If businesses are to compete on the global stage, it’s imperative that soft skills make their way to the top of the agenda. Failure to do so can only be detrimental to a business’ performance and potential, as well as the prospects of the employees within it.

So, let’s take a closer look at four major ways that the soft skills gap might be affecting your business.

Soft skills help employees close crucial deals

Whether your business is product or service based, ultimately everyone is out to sell something. So, it pays to have employees who know how to close a deal. The growing soft skills gap has led to a lack of confidence in this area, and sales figures are suffering as a result. It’s important that leaders take the time to train employees on how to close a deal, improving both self-belief and motivation in the process.

The power of communication

There’s no denying that in any business, communication is key. Clear communication is a fundamental part of the success of any project. This includes both internal and external comms.

When communication suffers, it takes down a whole lot with it. For example, a gap in the soft skill of communication within your business could lead to lower levels of innovation, weaker relationships and bad management. It’s also detrimental to transparency across the organisation.

Why we all need to focus on motivation

A good work ethic is one of the most powerful soft skills you can have in an employee. When that suffers, motivation levels dip, staff turnover rises and productivity takes a nosedive too. However, having a strong work ethic isn’t all down to the employees themselves.

The onus is on the business as a whole to encourage and inspire, allowing employee motivation levels to flourish. Did you know that “companies with highly engaged employees have been proven to improve their income by 19.2%, over a 12-month period.” (3) This is one soft skill which is indisputably worth the investment.

The benefits of flexibility

The vast majority of people, by their very nature, are conservative and wary of taking a step outside their comfort zone. This is particularly true when it comes to work. But flexibility is important, and having an open-minded workforce can prove hugely beneficial to companies.

Not only does flexibility mean that employees are more willing to learn new skills, it also often means that they are more likely to accept a new challenge and take it on with a positive attitude. And it’s easy to see why that’s a great thing in business.

Start tackling the gap

The soft skills gap is a growing problem, but it’s not an insurmountable one. In fact, this gap offers a wealth of opportunity to those businesses willing to invest in the soft skills of their workforce. The rewards are there for the taking, and it’s the companies that invest in their soft skills who will, ultimately, come out on top.


Thomas Buus Madsen is the COO and co-founder of Bookboon, the world’s largest e-book publisher for employee effectiveness and soft skills. By making its platform incredibly easy to use and only publishing industry-leading experts, Bookboon boasts some of the highest usage rates in the digital learning sector.

Would you like to read more about the power of soft skills? Download our free eBook.