The Most Sought-After Skill by Employers Is…

Communication web 300x222The results of a recent survey capturing the skills employers want most out of their new hires may not surprise you. Instead of writing, visual, or electronic communication skills, employers identified speaking as their most desired skill from recent graduates.

Verbal skills include interpersonal communication, presenting and listening skills, as well as team or group work. They simply touch more aspects of business life than the others. Electronic skills, while rising in importance as technology affects evermore facets of work, ranked second in the study.

52 employers in the engineering, business, health sciences, and social work fields responded to the survey. The results appear in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.

Generally, employers prefer their new hires to come into the workplace with a variety of “soft skills”, of which speaking and collaboration are included. The approach is that businesses can teach new hires about their particular ways of work and how to succeed in their environment, but soft skills are what makes that employee successful once they are through with that on-the-job instruction.

What can we do differently?

Although communications courses at the college level are common, they could better integrate the individual skills to better reflect the verbal, electronic, written, and visual needs of the modern business. In today’s working world, those proficiencies are accessed constantly throughout the workday – sometimes at the same time.

But what about approaches that your business can control? What can onboarding, training, and development do to improve verbal communication skills among workers?

First, identify the current and future needs of the business. Is most of the company customer-facing? Are employees often collaborating with other workers or teams from overseas. Is international expansion on the horizon? If so, language learning training should be considered.

Then, assess the current skills of your workforce. This can be done with a simple online survey. You will uncover skills that you didn’t know about among your employees – including languages.

Just because there may be considerable skills gaps among your employees (especially your new hires) doesn’t mean that you cannot take action to insure greater productivity and marketability in your workplace.

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