Being curious used to be something job seekers used to write to pad their resumes, but in today’s job market, it’s a legitimately attractive trait to hiring managers.
According to SAS‘s Curiosity @ Work Report 2021, which defined curiosity as the impulse to seek new information and experiences, 72 per cent of managers see curiosity as a valuable trait and 59 per cent believe it can have a real business impact. Over half believe that curious employees are higher performers.
Furthermore, the report showed that a majority of leaders believe curious employees are more efficient, collaborative, creative and highly engaged with their tasks. These are characteristics that are especially valuable in innovating new solutions, data analysis, and planning.
Affecting job requirements
This belief is having an impact on job requirements. SAS reports that there has been a 90 per cent growth in job postings on LinkedIn that mention curiosity, and 87 per cent growth in the mention of skills related to curiosity. More than 60 per cent of managers say they need talents who possess a blend of technical expertise and personal attributes like creative thinking, and problem-solving.
But this blend of hard and soft skills appears to be a rarity. Either that, or many applicants just don’t meet the hiring manager’s personal standards. Whatever the case, 65 per cent of managers say that they’re struggling to find the talents who meet their criteria.
Despite its many benefits, however, some managers believe too much curiosity can be detrimental to performance. About a third of managers, particularly ones who have less work experience, worry that too much curiosity can lead to bad decisions, great difficulty reaching a decision, and decreased efficiency in managing employees. They represented the smallest segment in the survey, accounting for just 16 per cent of the total participants.
The report highlighted the fact that curiosity affects how employees work and what type of work they find interesting. As such, leaders who value their employees are constantly striving to satiate that curiosity in order to increase employee retention and job satisfaction.
Because curiosity manifests differently–sometimes internally–it’s no wonder that managers are having a hard time identifying and fostering it. Almost half the survey respondents said they’re unsure of how to identify curiosity in job applicants, and 47 per cent reported it’s challenging to develop curiosity in employees who don’t naturally have it. Without harnessing curiosity, organizations can risk falling behind in their goals like digital transformation.
Put it in the spotlight
The solutions are rather simple, said the report. The best way to nurture curiosity is to put it in the spotlight. The report recommends leaders reward curiosity in performance reviews, publicly praise curious employees, and provision time for them to pursue their own interests. They can even offer one-on-one mentoring for the employees who prefer less attention.
From a company culture perspective, organizations can explicitly include curiosity in their goals, and spotlight and advance employees’ work that exemplifies curious attitudes. The change must be applied from the top down.
“It is not enough to establish curiosity in company lexicon and procedures; curiosity cannot sustain itself on lip-service alone,” the report said. “Instead, organizations must earnestly devote themselves toward developing curiosity-rich environments through employee education opportunities and skills building, increased availability of data, and advancements in digital integration.”