Google found that employees who demonstrated strength in soft skills were generally those that received greater promotions and higher paying jobs over employees proficient in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Google wanted to know the attributes of their most impressive employees, so they crunched numbers of who had been hired, fired and promoted since the company’s founding in 1998.
According to the Washington Post, Google found that the top qualities of a good employee included “communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others’ different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”
Patrick Powell, the human resource administrator over training and development at BYU-Idaho, conducts training meetings of leadership and communication for all employees on campus.
“You can be the smartest person in the room, well trained in a particular skill and be ineffective because you don’t know how to relate to others,” Powell said.
In recent years, the Department of Education has pushed students to study and enter STEM fields in STEM.
“It’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information,” according to the Department of Education website. “These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering and math — subjects collectively known as STEM.”
The Obama administration aimed for students of all ages and races to be involved in STEM fields. The program that fueled this movement was the Committee on STEM Education.
Powell said the workplace has evolved through the years from a lot of manual, repetitious work to automating most mundane tasks to a place where innovation and science are brought together. Automation has led to a greater need for communication and leadership in teams at work. However, Powell said that STEM education is still needed.
“There’s definitely a need for STEM-educated people,” Powell said. “But I think you’ll see those that have good communication skills will outperform, will outpace others that don’t have that. So, we still need people trained in the sciences and math.”
Jaqson Belnap, a freshman studying electrical engineering, said he knows that there must be a balance between STEM employees and those with communication skills.
“As you can see, this study shows that communication skills are the most important to have,” Belnap said. “These people take the initiative in business. As far as the engineering world goes, sale engineers (which may possess both skills) often have a larger salary than CEOs.”