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This piece comes to us via a daily email I receive from Wells Fargo.

Employers are struggling to find workers with soft skills, such as critical thinking, empathy, and the ability to get along with colleagues.

The Wall Street Journal cites a recent LinkedIn study that revealed 58% of 291 hiring managers believe the dearth of soft skills in the job market is hindering their firms’ productivity. Meanwhile, 89% of 900 executives polled by the Journal in 2015 said finding candidates with soft skills has proven very or somewhat difficult.

As the labor market tightens, businesses are spending more money and time on methods for screening and discovering candidates who possess skills that range from engaging customers in small talk or taking the initiative to lead a firm-wide project that requires reaching out across the invisible boundaries that sometimes divide teams.

According to the Journal, companies are saying they’re less inclined to provide training that could ramp up employees’ soft skills as they would with training for topics such as technical skills or industry licensure. In turn, this could be a driver behind the country’s high number of unfulfilled job openings, as reported by the Labor Department.

LinkedIn crunched data from its users’ professional profiles to find out which soft skills were most prevalent among users who successfully landed jobs they’d applied for. Here are a few of the leading attributes:

  • Communication
  • Capacity for teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability

To some, these skills might seem like a given. They’d ask, “How could you not know how to hold a conversation or engage in critical thinking to build an informed judgement?” But it’s not that easy for everyone. Some workers may be well-intentioned and interested in the success of their employer and would sincerely like to feel engaged with their peers—but the attributes required for these things need cultivation or awakening in order to shine through.

This requires critical (and new) thinking by employers. Technical and industry skills are essential; but how can you shift the priority so soft skills are factored into professional development plans and goals? In addition, traditional workplace training methods—such as webinars, workshops, or courses—can be convenient and effective. But if your goal is to bring out the best in your workers’ more nuanced traits and personalities, what’s the best method?

Here’s a good approach: According to Learning & Development, executives at British Gas view volunteering as a positive indicator of a job applicant’s soft skills. In fact, the company encourages its employees to take two days of paid leave to volunteer in their communities. Not only is volunteering a great thing to do, British Gas sees it as a way to develop soft skills, such as the ability to relate to customers.

If you can’t tell already, I’m a big proponent of the development of soft skills in the workplace. A major influence on my career came from my years of training in Boston’s improv comedy scene. While there’s no memorizing lines for an improv comedy show (scenes are 100% created from scratch), there are countless exercises, games, and practice sessions that stimulate the mind and enable new skills. In terms of soft skills, improv training enhances the ability to listen completely, present new ideas fearlessly, and think on your feet in high-pressure situations. And above all, it shows you the importance of creating and maintaining a culture of support within your team.

Much like British Gas’ focus on volunteering, these exercises bring about attributes that are good in the workplace and good in life.

John D. Natale

Longtime readers of AFM know that I’m not a fan of misleading people. I don’t publish paid blog posts without a disclaimer stating that the post is an advertisement. Advertisers don’t care for that, but I think it is the right thing to do.

That said…

I read a short piece by Sapna Maheshwari in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle about how celebrities are advertising to their followers. The problem is that the postings usually don’t specify that they are advertisements. Rather, they come across as testimonials.

The reasons for this are simple: the money is huge!

The article states, “Captiv8, a company that connects brands to influencers, says someone with 3 million to 7 million followers can charge, on average, $187,500 for a post on YouTube, $75,000 for a post on Instagram or Snap-chat and $30,000 for a post on Twitter. For influencers with 50,000 to 500,000 followers, the average is $2,500 for YouTube, $1,000 for Instagram or Snapchat and $400 for Twitter.”

I would hope that people aren’t so naive to believe that celebrities—excuse me, I mean influencers—aren’t getting paid for some of their postings. I have always assumed they were.

From an article I read in today’s Houston Chronicle:

“Parents expect to spend an average of $673.57 on electronics, clothes and notebooks this year, compared with $630.36 last year, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. In total, parents of kindergarten through 12th-grade students say they will spend $27.3 billion on school supplies this year, up from $18.4 billion in 2007.”

We have one daughter still living at home. We probably spent around that average. One surprise large purchase we had to make this year was a TI NSpire CX calculator, which set us back around $120. As long as she doesn’t lose it, she should be able to use it through college.

How much did you spend on back to school?

I saw this video circulating on Facebook.

With all the negative stuff going on in the world, it’s nice to come across something positive. This young man reminds me of my boys. Check this out:

Well, it happened…

All the useful features of Yahoo! Finance have been thrown out the window in the latest “update”. I’m starting to think that “update” is code for “take away features”.

Yahoo! Finance was my right hand. It’s like it’s been cut off.

Sad…

UPDATE: Here is Yahoo’s announcement of the changes.

I Like This Judge

July 17, 2016 — Leave a comment

I saw this video this morning on facebook and thought it was worth sharing:

For the first time ever, I am making available the S&P 500 Monthly Total Returns going back to 1926.

I originally put this together years ago and have been religiously updating the information each month for the last ten years or so (what a life I have, right?).

My numbers vary slightly from the numbers found in the Ibbotson Year Book. I think the difference is due to rounding. My numbers come from percentages rounded to the nearest .00.

Anyway, I hope AFM readers find this helpful.