Undoubtedly, every industry requires a specific technical or “hard skill” to perform a job. These skills are often gained through specific training or education and have long been viewed as a necessity for many roles. However, nontechnical, interpersonal skills called “soft skills” have become increasingly important to employers and employees who want their businesses and careers to flourish. In 2021, America Succeeds discovered that almost two-thirds of the 80 million job postings studied listed soft skills among their qualifications.
Soft skills in the workplace are related to how employees work. These soft skills might include character traits such as being a good listener and communicator, having empathy, and managing time well. Soft skills are transferable, which help employees navigate their environment and effectively communicate and collaborate with others regardless of their industry. Therefore, employees determined to stand out to employers should consider the following.
Work with Teams
As more hard skills become automated through technology, soft skills have become an invaluable trait in the workplace. Skills such as conflict resolution, enthusiasm, and commitment position employees as long-term assets to potential employers. Additionally, skills like flexibility and active listening demonstrate an individual’s ability to fit into a group dynamic. Social skills in the workplace also help employees navigate workplace issues with confidence and develop leadership capabilities.
Enhance Client Relationships
Soft skills not only support workplace relationships but also determine the success of working with clients and business partners. The attributes associated with soft skills not only are important for growing an employee’s reputation but also can contribute to an employer’s reputation. During client interactions, an employee’s developed soft skills can influence the company’s perception of the community, impacting its ability to do business. As a result, soft skills are among the top skills employers seek in hiring candidates because of their transferable ability and significance within and outside of an organization.
Develop the Workforce
While some individuals have innate attributes that allow them to naturally display specific soft skills, these skills can be learned over time. The road to developing and polishing soft skills in the workplace begins with personal reflection and introspection. Employees are encouraged to evaluate their business performance deficiencies individually and with the help of a trusted colleague or manager.
Employees can develop soft skills by working with a mentor who can provide feedback and model appropriate skills. Those focused on improving communication should consider taking online or in-person courses or participating in community group training. Employers can support their employees by demonstrating why practice is essential. Organizations without resources to start a soft skills training or development program should consider partnering with a nonprofit or university specializing in social-emotional learning.
Today’s business landscape is about communication, relationships, and positively presenting yourself. Soft skills are the way to improve workplace culture and collaboration and strengthen an employee’s confidence.
Niki Jorgensen is a director of service operation with Insperity, a provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.