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Human Skills in Short Supply

5.3M customer service professionals needed


Now more than ever human skills are critical. The current Covid-19 crisis highlights why the future of work really is human. Jobs that require the uniquely human ability to show empathy, solve complex problems and care for others, are experiencing unprecedented demand and the skills needed are in short supply.

In 2019 global management consultancy Deloitte published “The Path to Prosperity: Why the future of work is human’ [1] report, revealing that Australia’s biggest area of current skills shortage is in customer service, 5.3 million employees with further 3.5M required by 2030.

“jobs will increasingly need us to conduct ‘work of the heart’. Robots are learning to understand and mimic human tone, but are less able to exercise emotional judgement or champion professional ethics’. Otherwise known as Emotional Intelligence (EI).


EI as a psychological theory, was developed by Peter Salovey and John Mayer then made popular by science journalist Daniel Goleman. Defined as:


"… the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.” EI, - Mayer & Salovey, 1997

Research published by FuturePeople in 2016 [2] demonstrated that frontline service employees with higher EI scores not only delivered better customer service but were more engaged at work and subsequently more productive. However, only 20% of employees in front line service roles possessed the skills required.


The good news is people can learn these skills at any age. Sure, the earlier the better but EI can be developed at any age and stage of life, by as little as 25% and up to 50% [3] However, there’s a big difference between learning how to interact meaningfully with others and actually doing it.


Historically reported improvements in EQ (Emotional Quotient – the measure of emotional intelligence) have been based on an improvement in the theoretical understanding of emotional intelligence principles, rather than actual behaviour change.


Whilst gaining knowledge about EI is a great first step and may lead to increased awareness of how we ourselves and others are feeling in certain situations, it is unlikely to provide us with any practical skills we use in the real world to manage emotional situations better, particularly when under stress. And this is what we all need right now, practical skills to manage our own emotions and support those around us through the Covid-19 crisis. Kleu is digital behaviour change program for employees, which develops core human EI skills that are essential to managing stress, connecting with others and achieving outcomes; with customers and colleagues. To find out more about empowering your frontline with Kleu click here.

[1] Deloitte Insights - The Path to Prosperity: Why the future of work is human June 2019

[2] Heartonomics series Accessing the Triple Bottom Line Through Emotional Intelligence, FuturePeople Report 2016

[3] Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review, May 2013

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