The internet was just being made publicly available as I was going into college. Needless to say, we weren’t using the internet for anything while I was in college. My freshman papers were done on a typewriter – typewriter – in my one-bedroom apartment. And even when I did get a laptop later, it didn’t have internet access. All of our projects were assigned in the classroom, and all of our team assignments or study groups were done in person.
Even my job through college as a receptionist was done with a phone. We didn’t have an online reservation system, I had to talk to people. I had to greet them in-person when they came in for their appointment. So I was very well equipped to go into the workforce and continue this type of interaction and communication. Unfortunately, Gen Z, which is our most recent generation coming into the workforce, is feeling ill-equipped. In fact, over half of them have said that they don’t have the skills needed in the workforce. They’ve had an opportunity to be virtual, or they were forced to be 100% virtual during much of their college education.
So we are starting to see this gap, and it’s not even just because of Gen Z. But even older generations, because they were used to in-person only or virtual only and just as they learned the skills for that, we created this hybrid environment. And so we are seeing the gap in communication. Now, a lot of organizations are doing a wonderful job of investing in different technology platforms to bridge this communication gap, and we’ve seen some good success with it. However, there is still a missing ingredient and it is this erosion of social skills.
You may be thinking, what do social skills have to do with business? But think about all of the money that is being wasted when the skills aren’t there to pick up the phone and call somebody, versus how much time is spent back and forth trying to uncover and understand via text only, how much more effective and efficient things can be when people know how to have social skills to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Or when people are in person together, how to collaborate in a way that gets things done, not just efficiently, but with amazing, incredible results.
So that is a lot of what we’re seeing today, is that it’s not just about the technology that’s going to help streamline communication. It’s also that we have to address the challenge of this erosion of social skills. So when we go in and train employees and leaders alike on how to interact with one another, how to collaborate, how to communicate, both verbally written on text, how we see the results that impact carry through across the team and across the organization.
Comment below, what are you seeing in your team and in your workplace when it comes to this erosion of social skills? How is it impacting the results that you want to get? And what are you doing today to overcome this, outside of potentially just a technological solution?