A new campaign is being launched to promote abilities such as communication and teamwork amid concerns that workers are being held back by a lack of 'soft skills'.
The initiative is being led by McDonald's, which claims employers, the government and educators are not doing enough to improve these abilities.
According to research carried out on behalf of the firm, such skills contribute £88 billion to the economy - and this figure is due to rise to £109 billion over the next five years.
In addition, more than 500,000 UK workers will be significantly held back by 2020 by a lack of abilities such as communication and time-keeping, which it said can boost confidence levels.
Soft skills lead to increased workplace productivity, and their absence can have a number of negative impacts, the BBC reports.
If firms lose people with these skills, they can suffer from higher operating costs, lose business to competitors, have trouble meeting quality standards and experience delays in introducing new products.
A three-month consultation is being launched by the campaign, with recommendations set to be published later in the year.
Jez Langhorn, chief people officer at McDonald's UK and Northern Europe, said: "Soft skills like communication and teamwork are incredibly important to our business because of the impact they can have on our customers' experience.
"As integral as they are to the performance and progression of our employees, I know that we can do more to recognise their importance which is why we are launching this campaign."
He added that McDonald's regularly assesses its 100,000-strong UK workforce on soft skills for appraisals and promotions.
Neil Carberry, the CBI's director for employment and skills, backed the campaign, stating that qualities such as resilience, respect and enthusiasm are as important as academic and technical skills.
Mr Langhorn said he was interested in any policies the government could implement to help employers and employees develop soft skills, pointing out that they are essential to improving productivity.
Posted by Tim Colman