Are Workers Becoming Better Communicators?

For Immediate Release

Apr 2, 2008

Survey also shows most applied skills improving—but concerns remain

Alexandria, Va. – Are workers becoming better communicators? A new survey on workforce readiness shows employee skills in written and verbal communications have improved nearly 20 percent during the past three years.

The survey also shows improvements in such applied skills as relationship building and business knowledge. However some critical applied skills, such as motivation, are declining.

The 2008 Workforce Readiness Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides a snapshot of how human resource professionals rate job candidates’ abilities in 23 basic and applied skills. SHRM is the world’s largest human resources professional association, with more than 235,000 members.

Of the professionals polled, 25 percent said candidates lack verbal communication skills, a 19-percent improvement from 2005. They reported that 41 percent lack written communication skills, a 17-percent improvement. The only basic skill that fell was financial literacy—it was seen as lacking by 20 percent of those polled, a 4-percent increase since 2005.

Among applied skills, relationship building was up 13 percent, and both overall professionalism and business knowledge improved 10 percent. Decreases were seen in motivation/self-direction, down 4.1 percent, and critical thinking/problem solving, down 3.4 percent.

“The results show job candidates are better prepared to enter the workforce than three years ago, but there remains real concern about motivation and critical thinking,” said Steve Williams, SHRM director of research.

In the 2008 survey, 51 percent of HR professionals said potential employees lack motivation, and 50 percent said candidates are deficient in critical thinking.

“HR leaders nationwide are continuing to express concerns over many critical employment skills,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager, workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. For instance, she said, a SHRM symposium late last year gathered the opinions of leaders from think tanks, government and industry. “They agreed that America’s workforce is not ready for today’s increasingly competitive global economy,” she said.

An executive summary of the symposium on workforce readiness is available at and the most current national survey, is available at

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at


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