10 Employee Strengths That Can Help Any Business

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Understanding your employees' strengths can bring long-term benefits for your organization. Let's review the basics of what defines a "strength," explore how to identify them and examine the mix of strengths that can both deliver results and boost employee satisfaction.

Employees' strengths can improve business performance and drive sustained success when you identify and nurture them effectively. In addition to improving organizational outcomes, studies show that creating opportunities for employees to use their strengths every day can boost morale and engagement in the workplace.

In this piece, we'll break down the basics of staff strengths and how to identify them, dive into 10 strengths worth finding and explore three ways organizations can leverage these strengths to see long-term success.

What are employee strengths, and why are they important?

No one can be good at everything. Where one employee struggles, another might excel and vice versa. But together, these two staff members can effectively tackle challenges that neither could in isolation.

Scale this concept across business departments and the value of identifying and leveraging strengths becomes clear. By aligning tasks and projects with employee strengths, businesses can improve timelines, reduce errors and keep people engaged.

According to data from the Harvard Business Review, playing to employees' strengths also has a measurable impact on business outcomes. Strength-focused organizations experienced a 10% to 19% increase in sales and a 14% to 29% increase in profit.

How to identify employee strengths

"Strengths" can be hard to quantify. You may think you know what someone is good at by observing, but having data can back up your suspicions or help you realize someone has a talent you hadn't yet spotted. Here are two ways you can quantitatively identify employees' strengths:

Review their performance

Performance can easily be gauged by and supported with data, such as the number of hours worked on a project, the number of errors made or the measurable outcomes produced.

Consider an employee tasked with a complex project. After reviewing the framework and requirements, they create a milestone-based schedule that keeps the project on track and identifies potential failure points. You can observe these tangible results and realize it not only shows an aptitude for organization but speaks to the types of projects where this employee excels.

Gather their perceptions

Perception data is qualitative. It's gathered through surveys and interviews with employees and their colleagues.

For example, managers and C-suites might ask staff members about their key strengths. Common answers include communication and flexibility, the ability to effectively interact with other people and respond quickly to changes in project deadlines and expectations.

These answers indicate where employees believe they excel. Speaking with other staff members provides context and confirmation. If perceptions align across staff and their coworkers, businesses can be confident that stated strengths align with actions in the workforce.

10 employee strengths to seek in your workforce

Depending on your current business needs and identified business goals, your ideal mix of strengths will change. Here are 10 of the most sought-after.

1. Communication

All employees have to communicate with each other, but some do it better than others. Seek out workers who can easily relate to both peers and superiors without sounding condescending or pushy. As noted by the Houston Chronicle, it's also a good idea to pay attention to emails and reports as these platforms allow you to assess written communication skills.

2. Planning

Your workforce knows how to get the job done, but some staff members take this a step further by designing thorough and complex plans that account for multiple failure points or interruptions. These types of capabilities can be invaluable when it comes to meeting long-term objectives.

3. Problem-solving

What happens when employees come up against a difficult challenge or one that requires them to think outside the box? While some struggle, give up or immediately seek managerial input, others are willing to strike out on their own and find answers, even if they're not immediately obvious.

4. Tenacity

Projects may encounter hiccups, customers may be complaining in droves and technology doesn't always work as intended. Watch what happens with your employees when things don't go smoothly. Tenacious people will rise to the top with ways to manage their stress levels and create new methods of getting things done.

5. Flexibility

Project expectations and deadlines can change without warning. While managers don't want to spring sudden changes on their employees, market data or budget issues may require sudden operational shifts.

Flexible employees are capable of handling these changes with minimal disruption to their performance and output. Staff members with this strength often have a positive outlook on their work and their capabilities and approach sudden shifts as opportunities rather than challenges.

6. Organization

Critical business tasks are often complex and multi-layered. As a result, it's easy for teams to find themselves behind schedule, especially if unexpected issues arise. This makes organization a critical staff strength. Employees with the ability to manage both their own time and that of their teams effectively help keep projects from being derailed and communicate with upper management consistently.

7. Emotional awareness

Human beings are inherently emotional. From satisfaction with a job well done to frustration when things don't go as planned, it's impossible to separate the human condition from business operations.

This makes emotional awareness, also called emotional intelligence, an essential skill for success. By supporting and empathizing with colleagues, emotionally intelligent staff can help defuse potential conflicts and keep tasks on track.

8. Honesty

Everyone makes mistakes. In the workplace, mistakes can range from minor issues such as missed meetings or messages to large problems such as accidental data exposure or account compromise. Staff who immediately admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions demonstrate they can be reliable even when their best-laid plans go awry.

9. Decision-making

Good employees find multiple solutions to project challenges. Great employees can consider these solutions, identify the best course of action and make the call to proceed with consideration for everyone involved.

10. Self-reflection

This is the ability of staff members to assess their actions, pinpoint possible improvements and make lasting changes. From a management perspective, this strength is like an ongoing performance review. Staff are committed to consistent improvement over time.

How to use employee strengths to achieve long-term success

Strengths form the foundation of successful operations. But identifying staff with these key characteristics is only the first step. To see sustained success, three actionable components are critical.

Map strengths to measurable outcomes

Different projects and goals require different strengths. As a result, businesses are best served by mapping staff strengths to specific outcomes. For example, if project efficiency is the priority, employees with excellent problem-solving and organizational skills are a good fit.

Distribute responsibilities

Even the strongest staff members can't do everything on their own. For organizations, this speaks to the need for effective delegation. In a given team, don't assign all emotional support or decision-making tasks to one individual. Instead, distribute responsibility so that strengths are prioritized but responsibilities are shared.

Offer opportunities for growth

Just as all employees have strengths, they also have weaknesses. By providing professional opportunities for growth, from internal training to outside coursework or certifications, you can improve the diversity of available strengths and provide opportunities for your staff to enhance their skills.

Playing to strengths leads to benefits all around

Selecting the best employees for each team or task does more than improve project success. When employees are given the chance to play to their strengths and are rewarded with greater feelings of satisfaction and engagement, their achievement continues on an upward trajectory, bringing long-term benefits to the entire organization.

Consider recent data from the ADP People at Work 2022 global report, which found that 70% of staff in North America have considered a major career change in the last 12 months, and 78% say they experience significant work-related stress at least once a week. By ensuring strengths are recognized, prioritized and effectively utilized, businesses can enhance overall employee satisfaction and reduce the risk of talent churn.

Learn more about your employees and make informed operational decisions with ADP Voice of the Employee.