Hay Group: Graduates lacking the people skills employers are looking for

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 22 May 2015 in News
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People skills continue to grow increasingly important for businesses, as globalisation accelerates and organisational structures change. In this context, 93 per cent percent of those surveyed believe employees with strong people skills deliver better commercial impact

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of those in charge of talent development believe they have had to employ graduates without the necessary people skills due to a lack of choice.

That’s according to a new study from management consultancy firm, Hay Group. The research reveals that the majority of respondents (90 per cent) are of the opinion that fewer than half of graduate applicants have sufficient people skills for the roles they are applying for. 

People skills continue to grow increasingly important for businesses, as globalisation accelerates and organisational structures change. In this context, 93 per cent percent of those surveyed believe employees with strong people skills deliver better commercial impact. 

Such beliefs, however, are not echoed by today’s graduates. In fact, 70 per cent believe that, in order to succeed, they just need to be good at their job, with more than half (51 per cent) feeling that people skills actually get in the way of getting the job done. As it stands, 61 per cent of today’s graduates believe that technical skills are more important than people skills at work

“It’s not that today’s graduates lack potential,” clarifies David Smith, consultant at Hay Group. “In fact, psychometric assessment specialist Talent Q analysed data of more than 40,000 employees worldwide and found that graduates have as much potential as senior managers for self-awareness, self-control and teamwork and more potential for empathy. This potential needs to be realised, however. It’s now down to organisations to recruit and develop graduates in the right way so they appreciate the role these ‘softer’ skills play in their own development and the value they offer to the business.”

The research showed a clear divide between graduate expectations around promotions and the reality. The majority (89 per cent) of those in charge of graduate recruitment and development believe poor people skills hold graduates’ progression back, although 68 per cent of graduates are confident they will succeed in their organisation regardless of their people skills. Consequently, 45 per cent of graduates expect to be promoted within their first six months of starting a job, whereas the reality (according to those in charge of graduate recruitment and development) sees just 17 per cent being promoted in this timeframe.

Efforts are being made to address the imbalance in people skills. 91 per cent of those in charge of graduate recruitment and development believe their business provides adequate training to develop the people skills of graduates. In fact, 83 per cent state their managers spend more time training graduates on working effectively in a team than on technical skills. This on-the-job method of training was cited by more than half (55 per cent) of graduates as their preferred approach to learning. Businesses recognise there’s no quick-fix, however; as 62 per cent believe it can take between six months and two years for graduates to develop the necessary people skills to deliver productively for the organisation.

“Managing graduate expectations is essential: businesses must show graduates that, even if they’re not getting a promotion this time, their company is investing in them and they’re getting the training to progress further,” Smith added. “It’s also about making the process as seamless for the employee and business as possible.` Today there are tools such as smartphone applications and personality self-assessments to help organisations engage and develop graduates, to assist them with their own progression and job satisfaction, and to enable them to meet and exceed business leaders’ expectations.”

 

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