We hear it often. "Millennials don't make eye contact. They don't respect authority. They don't show up on time." Why? What happened? And how is this lack of soft skills impacting our culture and our businesses? Millennials who have great soft skills have a huge advantage over their peers who do not. Studies, reports and articles emerge weekly about the severity of the challenges that employers have with hiring and managing a generation that lacks people skills. That means that members of the most tech savvy generation who have solid soft skills have a serious competitive advantage in the job market.
In his recent post, "Is Lack of Soft Skills Hindering Millennials' Careers?," Kevin Howell cited several studies that indicate the answer is "Yes".
Lack of soft skills is holding back Millennials in their careers
It's such a chronic and acute problem, that, according to a recent McKinsey study, "40 percent of employers said they have difficulty filling vacancies because younger workers lack soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality. A PayScale survey found similar results, with managers highlighting leadership and ownership as skills that Millennials lack."
What's the cause of this lackluster skill set? Too much focus on STEM education and job? Maybe. Too much screen time? Perhaps. Some studies have shown that "social anxiety with face-to-face interaction increases with the amount of time spent online."
"Regardless of the reason young workers struggle with soft skills, companies have to deal with it. Addressing the skills shortfall in the workplace means tailoring training and development toward those needs."
And that means that soft skills training for millennials needs three things:
- To be valued by millennials
- Fun for them to learn
- Include a lot of practice
Changing behaviors is hard and humans resist it. Shifting the way millennials interact in person is not going to be easy. Success will require engaging training, practice and accountability along the way.
This generation grew up with digital media and video games and they like activities to be fun. Gamifying soft skills training is essential to hold their attention.
Practicing new skills and repeating them often is how people skills behavior will change.