• Improving America's Workforce

    September 22, 2015

    Improving America's Workforce

    Employers Complain About Lack of Soft Skills in the Labor Force

    Ten Actions Society Should Take to Make Better Workers



    OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 23, 2015 - For years, regardless of whether unemployment was high or low, employers have voiced their concerns about not being able to find people with the right soft skills to fill jobs. 

    Have too many potential workers lost the ability to connect with and impress employers, or can something be done?

    Express Employment Professionals today released results of a focus group of Express leaders that highlights 10 actions society should take that will lead to better workers.

    "We hear all the time from employers that they're looking for workers who are punctual, respectful, properly dressed and dedicated. Employers value these soft skills, but employers believe that too many potential workers lack these attributes," said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. "Our owners interview people every day and it's amazing how poorly some people do presenting themselves. Soft skills are vital and there are things we all can do to help develop them.

    "The results show what everyone in society can do to send signals, especially to young people, so they develop strong soft skills that will guide them in life - and help them get job offers."

    Society's 10 Actions:

    1. Teach children to stand up, shake hands, and look adults in the eye. Businesses want to hire people who relate well to other people, including co-workers. Person-to-person skills should be taught at a young age.
    2. Make children do chores. Learning at an early age the importance of routine work and completing tasks is a skill that will come in handy throughout their life.
    3. Teach young people to give up their seats for the elderly. Most people used to do this-it's an important sign of respect and kindness. Good manners are an important measure of how someone will treat their co-workers. 
    4. Teach young people how to apologize-and mean it. Conflict is natural, but resolving differences needs to be taught. Modesty and humility make for better co-workers.
    5. Make teenage drivers figure out directions for themselves. Parents shouldn't program the GPS or show their children what routes to take while driving. Teenagers benefit from self-sufficiency, as do good workers.
    6. Have your teenager work a paid summer job. It doesn't matter if a family is wealthy or poor, teenagers need to learn good work habits, especially the importance of punctuality. Starting at the bottom, working for hourly wages in a summer job, is a great way to learn what the working world expects.  
    7. Teachers should wear ties and dress up in the classroom. Lessons about proper attire and self-respect often begin in schools, where children interact for the first time with people who work. Teachers send powerful signals about how to act and that appearances matter.
    8. Coaches and professional athletes need to stop engaging in tirades when something goes wrong. Athletes send powerful signals about how to behave. It's one thing to be tough and demanding; it's another to swing a bat at a water cooler or scream in the face of an umpire. Successful employees need to handle conflict properly and the signals society sends about what to do are important.
    9. Coaches and parents should make young athletes say "thank you" to the umpire after a game is played. Respect for authority figures is a key part of success in the workplace. Demonstrating gratitude goes a long way.
    10. Let young people fail. Parents need to allow their children to figure things out on their own, even if it means they make mistakes. Employers value workers who are tenacious, creative and able to adjust. Skills like that are developed at a young age, often by learning from mistakes.

    "These are great society actions to take to help our young people with their soft skills," Funk said. "And to help teach young adults how to successfully enter the workforce, we've created an educational program to help them map out a career path, find job openings and land a quality job-all of which can be an overwhelming process."

    Schools and organizations can find out more information by visiting ExpressPros.com/JobGenius.


    If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.

    About Robert A. Funk

    Robert A. "Bob" Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than five million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

    About Express Employment Professionals

    Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $2.85 billion in sales and employed more than 456,000 people in 2014. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually.