The Importance of Social Skills at Work



Written by: Lindsay Daniels / Social Skills / January 30th, 2018

Have you used the computerized self-checkout at the grocery store? Do you order food with your phone? Were you greeted with an automated answering service on a phone call recently? 

In our increasingly digital society, we are experiencing a shift in which more and more jobs are becoming automated. 

So, why are some jobs becoming automated while others are not?

The answer is because certain jobs require something we provide that computers cannot simulate: a human connection.

Jobs that are high-paying and difficult to automate remain this way because they require social skills

The labor market increasingly rewards social skills. Between 1980 and 2012, jobs requiring high levels of social interaction grew by nearly 12 percentage points as a share of the U.S. labor force.
— David J. Deming, The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labour Market

Essentially, jobs that require high levels of mathematical or analytical capabilities and low levels of social interaction are becoming automated. Jobs that are less routine-based and rely on the ability to quickly adapt, multitask, collaborate with others, and build relationships tend to require [human] social skills. 

Additionally, the ability to work collaboratively as a member of a team is an increasingly sought-after skill. 

The Growing Demand for Strong Social Skills

Research reflects a growing demand for people who possess interpersonal skills, as this facilitates strong relationship building potential, both internally [amongst team members] and externally [with customers or clients]. 

When surveyed, employers routinely list teamwork, collaboration and oral communication skills as among the most valuable yet hard-to-find qualities of workers.
— David J. Deming, The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labour Market

The need for strong social skills is even greater for individuals in managerial roles, who are hoping to be effective leaders. 

Emotional expressiveness - the ability to convey emotional messages to others - is also reportedly vital to successful leadership today.

Psychologists have developed tests and assessments designed to measure social and emotional intelligence. Employers can use this data to predict performance and inform decisions. 

A helpful example is the "Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test" which focusses on the four branches of emotional intelligence: 

Perceiving Emotions: The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others. This also involves the ability to interpret the emotions attached to art, stories, music, and so on.

Facilitating Thought: The ability to generate, use, and experience emotion as necessary when communicating feelings or applying them to cognitive processes.

Understanding Emotions: The ability to understand information that is based in emotion, to understand the impact of emotions on relationship transitions, and to appreciate the various implications of emotion.

Managing Emotions: The ability to be identify feelings in order to promote personal understanding and growth.

*From “Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), by J. D. Mayer, P. Salovey, and D. R. Caruso, 2002, Toronto, Ontario: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Social Skills Training

At Well Said: Toronto Speech Therapy, our experienced team of speech-language pathologists are trained to help clients to develop, polish, and refine their social skills. We appreciate the important role that social skills plays both personally and professionally.