Why Critical Thinking Is Important in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 19, 2022 | Published November 5, 2021

Updated August 19, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Critical thinking skills give employees the ability to think independently. These essential skills can take many forms and can help staff build strategies and find solutions that may not be immediately obvious. Understanding how critical thinking skills can benefit people in the workplace is key to developing ways of getting the most from your approach to the job. In this article, we explain why critical thinking is important, explore the meaning of critical thinking, offer reasons why it's beneficial, provide tips for improving critical thinking skills, and give examples of ways to include critical thinking skills on a resume.

Why critical thinking is important

Understanding why critical thinking is important means knowing how teams interact and solve problems with these skills. Without critical thinking skills, staff may take situations for granted, or accept information without questioning it. Thinking critically also helps when encountering unique situations or new information, as these same skills can guide your methods of reviewing information or taking action.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking skills are thought processes that dictate the way you approach, understand, and interact with problems. Instead of accepting all information without questioning it, critical thinking is a skill which allows individuals to evaluate every situation from their own viewpoint. It also encourages individuals to take context into consideration for a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Related: Key Differences: Analytical Thinking vs. Critical Thinking

Top reasons critical thinking is beneficial

There are many ways in which critical thinking can positively influence your decisions, success, and even workplace happiness. Here are a few of the main ways in which critical thinking can benefit you in the workplace:

Improves decision making

Those with critical thinking skills approach big decisions in a way where they are ready to consider every outcome. Critical thinkers often do research when they encounter new scenarios. This helps ensure that they're equipped with the information they need and that they understand the full impact of the decisions they make. Critical thinkers use objective logic to motivate their decisions. Decisions that can benefit individuals by taking a critical approach may be career shifts or making corporate purchases.

Related: 8 Decision-Making Strategies for Career Success (With Tips)

Critical thinkers can be more content in the workplace

Critical thinkers can often form a comprehensive outline of their motivations and goals. This allows them to better understand career paths, work environments, and positions that may offer them a higher degree of contentment or satisfaction. For those who value personal growth, critical thinking skills can be a useful tool for identifying and pursuing the outcomes you want from your workplace.

Being well-informed is beneficial

A large part of critical thinking is being well informed by researching, asking questions, and seeking advice. Individuals often have access to information, giving critical thinkers tools for developing a comprehensive understanding of anything they wish to learn about. For thought-leaders and followers alike, being fully informed can position individuals well to handle or motivate change.

Encourages self-reflection

Critical thinkers often attempt to see challenges from multiple perspectives. Receiving feedback or criticism as a critical thinker means being more capable of logically evaluating this information to use it practically in self-development. Importantly, critical thinkers are typically able to shift their thinking based on new information and logically evaluate it.

Some professions require it

In many career paths, critical thinking helps make employees more effective at their jobs. For instance, law, research, finance, education, and medical fields all benefit from critical thinking skills. People in these fields can use critical thinking to approach their roles from a logic-motivated standpoint. Any profession which aims to deduce information without bias, solve problems, and find realistic solutions benefits from critical thinkers.

Related: A Guide to Personal Skills

Critical thinking avoids assumptions

Critical thinking means seeking and acting on verified information. Because of this, individuals can avoid assumptions which may lead to mistakes or misunderstandings. Employees accepting information without knowing where it's coming from, or even making their own assumptions can lead to bigger problems in the workplace.

Tips for improving critical thinking skills

Regardless of how strong your critical thinking skills are, it's always possible to develop them further. Here are a few useful tips for improving critical thinking skills:

Consider the information source

Effective critical thinking starts with careful consideration of the source of information. Critical thinkers are less prone to accept information from singular or unverified sources, and seek to find objective truth whenever possible. Evaluation of sources can help to avoid receiving incorrect information or basing beliefs or understandings on unfounded assumptions. Try to verify the source for your information and ensure the source is reputable and reliable.

Evaluate new information or decisions

Aside from considering the source of information, critical thinkers also evaluate the information on its own terms. Consider whether the information makes sense in relation to other facts you know to be true. When making decisions, evaluate the impacts that decision has on yourself, your colleagues, and the business. Sometimes, when a change is coming to a workplace, those who made the decision don't fully disclose the full scope of the situation. Critical thinking means identifying these effects yourself.

Related: Analytical Skills Defined and Explained

Ask many questions

Asking questions is a vital skill to master when developing your critical thinking skills. Having a set of questions ready can help to evaluate new information that's presented to you, or decisions that may impact your workplace. Here are some questions that can help to evaluate new situations, decisions, and information:

  • Who is providing this information?

  • How can we or I solve this problem?

  • Are there other perspectives to consider in this matter?

  • What research can I find on this topic?

  • Why is someone providing me with this information?

  • Who may benefit or suffer from this?

Follow up with research

Effective research allows you to verify information and gain knowledge that can help to inform your opinion. Conduct research with the resources that are available to you. These can be the internet or even experts on the specific topic. For instance, if a decision you're making has legal considerations, consulting with a lawyer is a form of interpersonal research that can greatly inform your choices. If you use the internet, look for reputable sources like syndicated news sites, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Even print form information, such as encyclopedias, can offer helpful research opportunities.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Form your opinion

Once you've gathered all the research or considered the full scope of a situation, the final step is to form your own opinion. Your opinion is ready when it's defendable with the research you've conducted and when you can back it up with logic through your evaluation of the situation. Opinions are personal, but can still be objective and informed.

Examples of critical thinking on a resume

Showing prospective employers that you have effective critical thinking skills can be helpful in securing a job. The best way to communicate your critical thinking skills to hiring managers is on your resume. Here are some examples of critical thinking skills and how you can include them on your next resume:

Observation skills

Observation is one of the primary ways that individuals receive information from the world around them. The more you can observe, the more information you can receive about your work structure and your workplace's culture. If you've observed every facet of your workplace, you're more equipped to think critically about changes that may affect it.

Example: I'm highly observant, and pay close attention to my work environment and colleagues.

Related: What Are Observation Skills? (And How to Improve Them)

Analysis skills

Analysis is a promising skill in job candidates, as it shows the ability to evaluate information based on facts. Including analysis skills on a resume implies the candidate can review information and make educated inferences from it. Even in roles where analysis isn't a job duty, having an analytical approach to work can often avoid errors and help you make well-considered decisions.

Example: My analytical skills allow me to evaluate every situation for its opportunities and make informed decisions.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definition and 15 Workplace Examples

Communication

As critical thinking is an internal mental process, it's important to be able to communicate your logic or your considerations to others. This is how strong communication skills can benefit critical thinkers. Being able to display on your resume that you're a strong communicator of your thought process can be a major asset when applying for jobs.

Example: I'm a strong communicator, and value collaborative logic and reasoning in discussions.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

Problem-solving

One of the essential benefits of critical thinking is that it makes you an effective problem-solver. Critical thinking means being able to solve problems quickly, efficiently, and with the best outcome in mind, which is important to include on a resume. Proving that you can implement your critical thinking skills to solve problems can make you an attractive prospect to an employer.

Example: I like to have a comprehensive scope of all considerations when solving problems, and aim to resolve them efficiently.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

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