Soft Skills Are Not Determined by Your Education or Work Experience
Are you wondering why some of your new graduate recruits don’t have the people skills required for the workplace? The answer according to new research is that university and even prior work experience placements do not effectively develop the performance improvement in “soft” skills needed for the office environment.
In a study of over 2500 individuals, researchers discovered that neither work experience nor university education had an impact, or were even related in fact, to a person’s performance in soft skills like providing support to colleagues or building relationships. The findings were revealed at the latest British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupation Psychology conference in Glasgow last week. The research was conducted by individual colleagues and bosses who rated their employees in 12 different workplace behaviours/ Researchers Rab MacIver, Sarah Chan and Katie Herridge of Saville Consulting spoke about their study:
“As people skills are harder to develop and may be innate, employers may be better considering personality measures when selecting for people orientated roles, rather than relying on an individual’s education or experience.”
University degrees and workplace experience did count for improved performance in areas such as technical and professional skills. Degrees especially help when it comes to problem solving and assessing details while work experience tends to help people more with leadership qualities and pushing towards reaching targets and goal setting. But when it comes to interpersonal skills, neither can determine the levels of an individual.
The lead authors of the study believe employers should look at intervention to improve people skills at the earliest possible stage in an employee’s career:
“For employers, we found that work performance developed at the start of individuals’ careers rather than later on. This suggests that employers should target more effort at early career development interventions.”