Study of 2,000 business leaders and employees reveals the shocking state of soft skills in the workplace

Business leaders believe ‘soft skills’ – such as problem solving, decision making and communication – are dying out in the workplace.

A survey of 1,000 workplace decision makers revealed more than nine in 10 believe their businesses would be more productive if staff had better soft skills.

But nearly two thirds (63 per cent) believe the absence of face-to-face contact with colleagues has created friction among their staff – despite efforts to get staff back in the office.

But a fifth admit they may not have paid enough attention to improving the communication, time management and other attributes among their employees.

And further research of 1,000 office workers found many feel the same way – with 25 per cent struggling with self-management and 23 per cent finding collaboration difficult.

And fewer than one in five (19 per cent) would rate their soft skill set as ‘excellent’.

The research was commissioned by soft skills development platform Ethical Angel, whose CEO, Alexander Fahie, said: “It is clear that there is a shortageof soft skills among the UK workforce and employees aren’t getting the support they desire.

“Without action these gaps will only increase, leading to a blow to company performance and      overall morale if it’s not addressed – which will continue to drive staff churn.

“Often it’s younger employees, who may be newer to the workforce, that struggle most and need time to develop their soft skills.”

Business leaders say 41 per cent of their junior staff lack training in problem solving, and a further 38 per cent need help with decision making.

Six in 10 believe good soft skills make their workers more productive, 57 per cent report a happier work culture, and 51 per cent see better staff retention.

Of the office workers polled, 67 per cent would like to improve their soft skills, and 33 per cent have spoken to management about the matter.

But just 34 per cent have had a plan put in place to actually improve these vital workplace skills.

Just over a third (34 per cent) have had a conflict with their boss which could have been avoided with better soft skills – on both sides.

And 54 per cent of employees feel they would be more productive if their manager had stronger soft skills.

Communication was ranked the top soft skills employees want their bosses to have – followed by good leadership and influence, and then empathy and inclusion.

A ‘successful mindset’ was deemed one of the least important soft skills workers want their management to have.

For employers, 88 per cent believe soft skills are directly related to business growth, according to Ethical Angel and OnePoll’s figure.

And on average, they estimate their business could generate a huge 17.5 per cent more profit if their staff’s soft skills were improved.

Ethical Angel’s CEO added: “Spending in L&D is at a record high, but there is clearly a disconnect. 71% of decision-makers believe their business has paid enough attention to soft skills, but two thirds of employees don’t even have a clear plan to improve them.

“The learning content that employees are being provided with simply isn’t engaging. For businesses to truly deliver on soft skills they must provide learning that is personalised, experiential and meaningful.

“Improved soft skills leads to happier, more productive staff, which leads to better retention – saving money in terms of staff turnover and improving overall business performance”


  1. Problem Solving
  2. Self-Management
  3. Decision Making
  4. Communication
  5. Analytical Thinking
  6. Successful Mindset
  7. Leadership and Influence
  8. Creativity and Innovation
  9. Empathy and Inclusion
  10. Continuous Improvement

Author: Editorial Team

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