Whether you're hiring employees, independent contractors or even a blended workforce, we all know that the world is changing rapidly and how work gets done is now evolving. As a result, how employers screen and hire employees and freelancers has changed. In this blog, we delve into the importance of having soft skills, whilst covering some of the benefits they can bring to an individual and businesses.
Soft skills usually refer to both character traits and interpersonal skills that can influence how well a person can work or interact with others in the workplace. The term soft skills cover a wide variety of skills as diverse as teamwork, time management, empathy and even delegation.
The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report has suggested that in a few years, complex problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, people management and emotional intelligence will be some of the most important skills required in a workplace.
The importance of soft skills is usually undervalued, and there is far less training provided to people than hard skills with the likes of coding etc. Organisations typically expect people to know how to behave on the job and understand the importance of skills such as taking initiative, communicating effectively, and listening, which isn't normally the case.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Most interactions with other people will require some level of soft skills. At a company you may be negotiating to win a new contract, presenting some new ideas to your colleagues, networking for a new job, the list is endless. We use soft skills every single day at work and developing these skills will only help to bring you career progression opportunities.
Having a lack of soft skills can limit your potential or can even contribute to a downfall of a business. Developing strong leadership, teamwork, and communication abilities, you have the ability to run projects more smoothly, deliver results that are great for everyone, and even positively influence your own personal life by improving how you interact with others.
Soft skills have shown that they're not only useful in the workplace, but also outside of work for many reasons. Below are some of the benefits you should expect to experience:
The Benefits for Individuals.
The future of the workplace - The adoption of automation and artificial intelligence is going to result in a greater proportion of jobs that will rely on soft skills. Advances in technology have caused tasks that require hard skills to decline, which has turned soft skills into a key differentiator in a workplace. Deloitte Access Economics conducted a study and predicted that "Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030".
As the performance of artificial intelligence improves and the cost of robots decreases, jobs such as manufacturing line workers will become automated - making traditional skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking, more important than ever before.
Automation - Soft skills such as emotional intelligence are harder to automate and are extremely unlikely to become automated anytime soon - this means that soft skills are becoming a lot more desirable.
The only challenge is that soft skills are difficult to teach and track improvements. A company called VirtualSpeech have tacked this by using Virtual Reality to improve employees’ soft skills.
Customers & Clients - Consumers have a huge number of choices of where to buy from, which is all provided via the internet and through smartphones. For most consumers, convenience and low prices are easy to find, so customer service is what can influence the choice to use a specific business.
Having the ability to communicate at a human level with customers is a vital factor in any organisation’s success.
Career Progression - iCIMS Hiring Insights had found that "94% of recruiting professionals believe an employee with stronger soft skills has a better chance of being promoted to a leadership position than an employee with more years of experience but weaker soft skills".
This shows that it's become vital to develop these skills if you want progression opportunities in your career as they have the potential to set you apart from others, internally and externally.
Modern Workplace - Having skills such as collaboration, active listening, and communication are all highly values in the modern workplace. Having strong soft skills will only ensure a productive, collaborative, and healthy working environment, which are all vital attributes for organisations in a competitive world.
The Benefits for Businesses.
Soft skills are needed through all industries and developing each soft skill will come with its own advantages for every business. Below are some of the advantages that businesses will experience:
Improved Teamwork - For a business to function efficiently, people must work well together to achieve a mutual goal. The quality of work improves when people use their strengths and skills together in collaboration.
Higher Productivity - An employee’s efficiency in their tasks and responsibilities increase, this will help to bring the company closer to achieving their goals.
Employee Satisfaction - Investing in your employees shows them that they're valued in the business and team. If an employee feels appreciated, this provides them with a positive outlook on the company which results in job satisfaction.
Higher Retention Rates - Most people want to work at a company that can invest in their employee’s career progression and development. In a study conducted in 2018, 63% of UK employees have said that they would change their employer if they receive a job offer from a company that offer more training opportunities.
In the current world of work, it's about communication, relationships and presenting your organisation in a positive way to the public and your employees. Soft skills in the workplace will allow your organisation to use their technical skills and knowledge effectively and efficiently without involving interpersonal issues and poor public and market perceptions.
Assessing soft skills should now be an essential part of your hiring process for potential employees. Recruiting for the right blend of skills takes a measured and strategic approach, as it requires an investment of time, patience, and instinct. You need to think carefully about how you can learn more about the candidates as humans interacting with others. It's also good to consider that soft skills strengthen other skills and abilities, teams with these skills will be equipped to adapt quicker and easier as the future of work continues to evolve.
Let us know your thoughts on the matter!