Employees’ poor people skills negatively affecting SMEs

Employees with bad people skills have lost clients for a third of UK SMEs, according to Tempo research

The research found the top knock-on-effects of employees’ bad people skills are: losing a client or customer (32%), receiving complaints from co-workers (33%), and a decrease in productivity (31.4%).

Although the majority (69.6%) of business owners believe interpersonal skills are harder to master than technical skills, only 10% spent more money on training for interpersonal skills than technical skills.

Sixty-two per cent of business owners also said they would reject a job candidate based on the interpersonal skills they displayed in the interview process.

Ben Chatfield, CEO and co-founder of Tempo, told HR magazine: “HR teams must prioritise training and upskilling the workforce – not just current employees but new staff too.

“In particular they must ensure managers have the necessary interpersonal skills. You can have the greatest salesperson, but if they can’t manage their time properly it will have a knock-on impact on the wider team and clients.”

Other key findings from the research include business owners’ five most desired soft skills for employees. Communication topped the list (42.2%) and creativity was second (40%). Third was time management (38.8%), fourth was problem-solving (37%) and multitasking was fifth (34.4%).

Chatfield continued: “It’s up to HR to ensure managers know how to assess and nurture soft skills among their teams. This ongoing level of support is what’s needed to ensure the workforce is constantly at its best and evolving with the times.”

The research was conducted between 4 and 11 February 2020 and surveyed 500 business owners who considered themselves to be an SME or start-up and had between 30 and 250 employees.