Research Outline

Soft Skills


To determine the link between soft skills and job performance to inform the development of an employee competency framework to validate the impact that soft skills have on employee performance.

Early Findings


  • Effective listening/communication skills is one of the leading soft skills recommended to employees. One survey found that poor listening amounted to $37 billion lost among Fortune 500 companies.
  • Poor listening results in lost contacts, inaccurate reporting, obstructed workflow, rework, unhappy customers and reduced productivity.
  • Communication can be verbal, nonverbal, visual and written.
  • The number one soft skill demanded of employees is communication.
  • Better communication and listening skills can help build a better rapport with customers, leading to increased business performance.
  • Communication barriers are estimated to cost businesses $62.4 million on average, each.
  • The same survey found that, "companies with leaders who possess effective communication skills produced a 47 percent higher return to shareholders over a five-year period."
  • Similarly, "SIS International Research (NY) reports that 70% of small to mid-size businesses are losing money due to ineffective listening and communication. They estimate that a business with 100 employees, for example, spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communication which translates to an annual cost of over $500,000 each year."


  • Bettering problem solving skills makes an employee more efficient — saving them and the company time.
  • Problem-solving can help one become an expert in their field, making them invaluable to clients by offering shortcuts and direction.
  • Under the problem-solving umbrella are several other soft skills: critical thinking, creativity, initiative, persistence, flexibility and self-discipline.
  • Embracing problem solving is a key employee trait as technology changes the business world. Pushing employees to take risks or move outside their comfort zones will help grow these critical problem solving skills.
  • Utilizing other soft skills, like listening, empathy, critical thinking and others, will help train out fear and be able to approach problems calmly, rationally and logically.
  • We couldn't find any specific quantitative evidence on how improving problem solving can increase the bottom line, but the evidence above points to better problem solving employees work faster/more efficiently and bring better expertise to the table. They also offer value-added benefits to the company and clients.