Communication worth £88bn to the UK economy

How many times do you have conversations with people who ask what value communication adds? Here’s a figure for them… £88bn.

Yep, 88 billion pounds. Today a brand new campaign was launched by employers stating “soft skills” need to be taken much more seriously as factors for business success amid claims they are worth £88bn to the UK economy.

*Low whistle* – now there’s a figure to start some serious conversations!

What falls under this category? It’s communication, initiative, interacting with customers and team working.

Anyone who describes communication as a “nice to have” or “soft and fluffy” often gets short shrift from me, because it is absolutely fundamental to business success and undeniably so.

Just look at every shred of evidence you have – when there’s duplicated effort, rumours, loss of productivity etc you can bet your bottom dollar (or pound) that poor communication is among the top three reasons cited as to why the situation has come about.

As someone who works in the field of communication and actively provides training, coaching and consultancy, hearing there is a fresh focus on improving and recognising this important skill is music to my ears.

You can see the tangible difference it makes to organisations and it makes my job extremely satisfying!

Who’s involved in the campaign?

McDonaldssoftskillsMcDonald’s is backing the campaign and wants to challenge the idea that a soft skill is a woolly concept with no clear economic value.

It is reportedly working alongside firms such as Barclays and organisations including the CBI and spending 2015 championing “the hard value of soft skills.”

A free 40 page report The Value of Soft Skills to the UK Economy has been prepared by Development Economics on behalf of McDonald’s UK and is packed full of information, statistics and evidence about the true cost of good – and bad – communication on our economy and why soft skills are important. I recommend downloading it, particularly if you are studying communication.

Why are soft skills important?

Writing on the backingsoftskills website, the company states: “At McDonald’s, soft skills are at the heart of what we do. We know that these skills can really affect a customer’s experience with us, and that they are critical to our employees’ performance, progression and motivation.

Mcdonalds“We hope not only to change peoples’ perceptions of soft skills, but also to generate some brilliant new ideas about how to develop them in the workforce so that all employees can benefit from them throughout their careers and lives.

“However we also know that as a nation we are not investing enough in skills such as communication, teamwork and time management, and now we have the stats to back this up.” (Tweet this)

  • By 2020, over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills – an issue forecast to affect all sectors.
  • At the same time, soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today – with this contribution predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years.
  • 97% of UK employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success, and over half say skills like communication and teamwork are more important than traditional academic results. However, three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.
  • Meanwhile, UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54%) have never included soft skills on their CV.

Source: Development Economics Ltd, January 2015 and YouGov Plc, September 2014


Neil Carberry, Director for Employment and Skills at the Confederation of British Industries said: “Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people – such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity – is just as important as academic or technical skills.
“In an ever more competitive jobs market it is such qualities that will give our young talent a head start and also allow existing employees to progress to higher skilled, better paid roles.”

What about McDonald’s?

McDonald’s published a report in June 2014 called ‘Serving the UK: McDonald’s at 40’ and in it highlighted the importance of skills acquired by training.

A staff survey found current employees regarded the soft skills that had been developed during their time with McDonald’s would be highly relevant to their future careers: the development of communication skills was considered highly relevant by 96% of current employees, team-work skills – by 94% of current employees, decision-making skills – by 93% and time management skills – by 91%. (Tweet this)

What happens if you don’t have the required soft skills?

McDonald’s states: “Businesses and public sector employers bear the largest cost associated with insufficient soft skills. Inadequate soft skills leads to significant business costs, including lost output and poor levels of productivity.

“Businesses and other employers have a big part to play in addressing these soft skills deficits, particularly when existing employees have soft skills gaps that hinder their performance and potential in the workplace.”

What do you think? Does this information resonate with you? How do you invest in the soft skills of your employees? Do you think the term soft skills creates more trouble than it’s worth?

As ever you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Further reading

The Value of Soft Skills to the UK Economy
See the  backing soft skills website.

Thank you as ever for stopping by,


First published on All Things IC blog 14 January 2015.

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