It’s well and good for a new-hire to be a whiz at coding or analyzing data, but possessing social skills is becoming just as important.
Social skills are the ability to interact and communicate with people verbally and nonverbally through gestures, body language, and even physical appearance. Unfortunately, it’s a set of skills employers are not finding in their millennial and Gen Z hires.
Social skills are particularly important in today’s workplace, say experts, because jobs requiring social interaction are on the upsurge, while the number of less social jobs is decreasing. The reason makes sense. As artificial intelligence takes the place of many positions requiring repetition, people who can interpret others’ feelings become more valuable. “There’s no way to program a robot to figure out when a customer has had a bad day,” says Prof. David Deming of Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Just as important are social niceties once taken for granted. Employers complain that many of today’s employees are unskilled at knowing when to shake a hand or even how to. Some organizations have found it necessary to create training modules to teach young employees how to converse casually. It’s no surprise such training is needed, considering the number of hours the younger generations interface with smartphones rather than humans.
With Bank of America training employees to show empathy, medical clinics using online courses to help workers learn to deal with touchy conversations, and Subaru creating a development program that covers topics such as punctuality and wearing appropriate attire, it’s clear employers need workers who can socialize and show human emotions. Just as clear is the fact that those who can demonstrate such skills will be in high demand.
- Why do you think young people may not possess the social skills that were taken for granted in past generations?
- Can you identify a list of social skills that would be worthwhile to develop to make you more marketable?
- Why is it so important to look someone in the eye when shaking hands?