Until recently it was widely believed that the most valuable skills in today’s and tomorrow’s economy are hard skills, especially those of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Indeed they continue to be sought by many industries globally. However, with the onset of deep learning, coding is already becoming not the fundamental skill. Google already reports that their AI is better at creating AI than the company’s engineers. The nature of work is changing and the skills valued on the job market are changing too. Upcoming massive automation will further challenge us to find our unique, deeply human qualities and learn to use them competitively. These qualities are not those of systemizing and rational thinking, because machines will eventually become much better at them than us.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills needed by 2020 are:

• Complex problem-solving
• Critical thinking
• Creativity
• People management
• Coordinating with others
• Emotional intelligence
• Judgment and decision-making
• Service orientation
• Negotiation skills
• Cognitive flexibility

None of these skills are hard skills; they are all soft skills. Soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, are of crucial importance especially for managers, as their managing style highly affects all the team members. Yet today so many employees would describe their managers as lacking empathy and emotional connection.
Therefore, to ensure your success as an organization you should invest in your people’s development with a particular focus on soft talents. It will have multiple positive effects, such as:

1. Setting high standards

When you acknowledge the importance of soft skills in your workplace and invest in their development, you are making a statement that goodwill, compassion, humility, open communication and teamwork matter and that every team member is expected to practice these. It introduces expectations and norms, thus creating a fertile ground for a healthy and well-functioning organization.

2. Increasing engagement

80% of workers agree that having the opportunity to learn new skills at work makes them more interested and engaged in their job. If your workplace provides such an opportunity, it will make your employees more motivated, productive and loyal. A 2016 LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring professionals indicated 58% say the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting their company’s productivity.

3. Contributing to employee wellbeing

At the core of an organization’s wellbeing is not availability of good drinks, yoga sessions or fitness commodities, it is the emotional climate and human relationships.
Miscommunication, misunderstanding, poor management take a very big toll on employee’s health and mental performance. When there are conditions for healthy interactions, trust and unconditional understanding, people strive and give the best of their energy and creativity.

4. Making your organization future-proof

Deloitte forecasts that soft skill intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. More and more jobs will be automated and only those requiring deep human qualities, such as soft skills, will stay in demand.

On an individual level, soft skills help every team member handle pressure healthily, better cooperate with others, be good listeners, be more open to feedback and make more thoughtful decisions1.

With all the benefits of learning soft skills, the question now is how it can actually be done. Acquiring soft skills is more complicated and longer than hard skills, because it involves people’s personal traits, hearts and minds together. In fact these skills are not impossible to measure, they can be evaluated across four components: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management. A good way to start is to measure the psychological climate in your organization and have introductory training for decision-makers and managers. Then you could consider a long-term mindfulness course, advice and training on how to boost creativity and innovation and on how to manage stress.

CONCLUSION

  • Soft skills are already in high demand and the need for them will only be increasing in the future. 

  • Soft skills provide you with a competitive advantage and ensure your organization will navigate through technological and societal change

  • Soft skills provide you with a competitive advantage and ensure your organization will navigate through technological and societal changes.

It is up to each organization and each professional to invest into soft skills. Remember that it is never too late to become more creativebetter manage stress and increase engagment.

 

References

1 https://www.fastcompany.com/3059481/7-reasons-why-emotional-intelligence-is-one-of-the-fastest-growing-job-skills

 

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