"Generation Awkward" do not have the soft skills
New Delhi: A survey conducted by global management consultancy, Hay Group, reveals that businesses across India are reporting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire graduates who have the self-awareness and self-management skills to succeed in their organizations. In their opinion, these are the attitudes and behaviours that can determine success or failure in the workplace.
The same trend has also been observed globally in countries like United States and China. So acute is the problem that three quarters of business leaders and HR directors surveyed fear for the future of their businesses and 89 per cent of the ones in India are worried about the quality of future leaders.
The “Generation Awkward” research in India, China and the USA by Hay Group polled business leaders, HR professionals and recent graduates. It reveals that a generation of young professionals - brought up on a diet of social media and rote learning -are joining the workforce at a time of unprecedented change. Businesses require collaborative working, multidisciplinary project teams and matrix structures, putting a high demand on soft skills.
In the survey conducted in India, 74 percent of the sample said that they have hired graduates who lack the necessary people skills due to a lack of choice. 71 percent believe that less than a quarter of their graduates have the people skills they need. 80 percent of business and HR directors say that graduates who do not develop people skills create toxic work environments.
Ruth Malloy, Global Managing Director, Leadership and Talent, Hay Group says, “Currently we are seeing an awkward generation joining companies across the globe. They’ve acquired the technical skills and qualifications to secure work but not the soft skills they need to succeed, once they are over the threshold. They find it difficult to fit in, struggle to build relationships, don’t deal effectively with stress or get their ideas across in the right way. This is a pronounced problem in the world’s key markets.”
“The rise of email, personal devices and “always on” social media has affected this generation of graduates. They are communicating, but not face to face. If it takes 10,000 hours to be excellent at something, then they are simply not spending enough time learning to interact with people. At the same time, tertiary education measures itself on the attainment levels of students, ahead of the mastery of these skills.”
According to the Hay Group research, graduates in India themselves don’t value people skills, with 77 percent surveyed believing they will succeed in the workplace regardless, 57 percent not seeing the value of “pandering to the feelings of others” in their team and 77 percent saying that people skills get in the way of getting the job done.
Ruth Malloy, Global Managing Director, Leadership and Talent, Hay Group adds, “This is a business critical issue but there is no easy solution because the best candidates are in demand. 83 percent of the sample in the three countries faced increasing competition to attract and retain graduates with these skills. Faced with this reality, companies have to concentrate on helping graduates to learn these skills quickly because 83 percent say that graduates who don’t develop these skills will never be high performers.”
To help companies respond to this challenge, Hay Group has launched Journey, which is the latest addition to Hay Group’s Activate suite of business apps. Representing a breakthrough in the gamification of professional development, Journey combines leading edge technology with Hay Group’s six decades of insight into how to release an individual’s full potential.
Ruth Malloy, Global Managing Director, Leadership and Talent, Hay Group says, “If mobile technology, games and social media are part of the problem, then we should use them in the solution. Mobile technology has already changed the way we lead our lives, but we’ve really only scratched the surface of what it can do for personal development in the workplace. Activate represents a leap forward in how employee development is activated, monitored and resourced.”
The app takes workers on a journey of self-discovery – the user starts stranded on a desert island and must tackle a series of practical exercises and assignments designed to build five core competencies, including self-awareness, self-control, empathy for others, teamwork and influencing skills. This takes place over four to six months as users work their way back to civilization. Managers can monitor the progress of their employees and provide supplementary advice and support.
Philip Spriet, Global Managing Director, Productized Services, Hay Group says “Millions of technically competent individuals fail to reach their full career potential because they lack soft skills. The good news is that these can be learned, but it relies on individual reflection of how our behavior￼and attitude is perceived by others – a cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Our ‘always-on’ culture sadly leaves less and less time for this to happen in the workplace.”
“The beauty of Journey is that it engages young users in the digital space, but encourages them to put into practice what they are learning in the real world. It prompts continuous reflection along with the practice, making for a far more compelling and effective learning experience.”
Sridhar Ganesan, Country Head, Hay Group India says “Mobile technology and gamification- a combination of these two together can provide the much needed impetus to ensure that fresh graduates learn to value the significance of people skills and develop them at the same time. Not only will this help in employee enablement, but it will also help organizations optimise their output. It’s a win-win situation if the missing link of emotional intelligence can be erased, so as to ensure that a competent individual reaches his/her full career potential. Journey focuses on enhancing emotional intelligence, which is extremely significant if an organization wants to stop worrying about the quality of its future leaders.’
Journey has been launched in the U.S, China and India so far, but there are plans to make it available to businesses globally over the coming year.