Soft Skills in the Workplace — All You Need to Know

In 2024, as technology, talent shortage, and demographic shifts redefine business competition, the urgency to prioritize soft skills in the workplace mustn’t be overstated, following the mantra:
‘Soft is the new hard.’

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work, and include listening skills, interpersonal skills, time management, communication skills, and empathy, among others. Unlike “hard” skills, soft skills are not about the knowledge you possess but rather the behaviors you display in different situations. Therefore, they speak volumes about how one would interact with colleagues, solve problems, and manage their work.

No wonder in the current rise of automation, soft skills give humans an edge over robots.

Soft Skills in the Workplace Are in Demand

Hiring professionals are increasingly looking for candidates with soft skills, and there’s a major reason for it. A person may be exceptional when it comes to job-specific skills, but if they cannot perform well under pressure or work within a team it’s quite difficult for them to succeed in the workplace.

In 2020, LinkedIn used data from 660+ million professionals in its network and 20+ million job listings to determine the hard and soft skills most in-demand in 2020 and beyond. And this is what they found:

The learning and development realm seems to be largely occupied by managers and leadership teams, but it should be for everyone. The 2020 Workplace Learning Report shows that managers spend 30% more time learning soft skills than the average learner.

The Growing Importance of Soft Skills in Today’s Workforce

  • Google identified eight key skills of successful leaders at the company, stating that even though technical skills are extremely important, these leaders most often display inherently human qualities, like listening and asking questions.
  • An interesting study by Deloitte Access Economics, predicts that two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will rely on soft skills by 2030.
  • According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, employers declared leadership and the ability to work in a team as the most desirable traits when recruiting recent college graduates, prior to analytical and quantitative skills.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports, “Competition has heated up for workers with the right mix of soft skills, which vary by industry and across the pay spectrum—from making small talk with a customer at the checkout counter to coordinating a project across several departments on a tight deadline.”
  • A recent study by Burning Glass Technologies found that, on average, one in three skills requested in 25 million U.S. job postings is a “baseline” or soft skill. “Even in the most technical career areas such as information technology, and healthcare, more than a quarter of all skill requirements are for baseline skills.”
  • The psychologist Nicholas Humphrey shared insights on social intelligence, asserting that how a person interacts with their environment and the people around them matters far more than their quantitative intelligence.
  • In LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report, 92% of talent professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills.

According to the report, 89% talent acquisition managers said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills.

Exploring the Benefits: The Impact of Hiring for Soft Skills

The importance of utilizing soft skills in the workplace cannot be stressed enough, and this applies to the entire workforce, from the entry-level assistants to executive leaders regardless of the industry. Here are a number of benefits businesses reap from hiring employees with interpersonal skills.

  • Improved leadership– People with soft-skills, such as empathy, problem-solving and decision-making skills tend to be great leaders. This is important because fifty percent of employees leave their job due to poor managers.
  • Increased productivity – Workers with well-honed soft skills tend to perform better and efficiently when it comes to their tasks and responsibilities.
  • Improved teamwork – Employees synthesize their varied talents and collaborate well with their co-workers, which strengthens the quality of work.
  • Win new clients– Highly-developed presentation skills, strong communication and networking abilities, and etiquette awareness can help you attract new clients and get more work from the existing ones.

How to Assess Soft Skills in Candidates with Gamified Assessments

Gamified assessments are perfect to assess candidates on their soft skills. Using gamification, employers can create hypothetical scenarios to test how an individual would approach job duties and challenges.

Moreover, they can ask candidates behavioral questions to test specific competencies. For instance, they can learn how an individual prioritizes work when they are handling multiple projects at the same time. Similarly, how a person would deal with a problem at work when they had a disagreement with a coworker can tell a lot about their prospective hire.

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