October 04, 2022 5 MIN Read

Why Soft Skills Are Essential to the Future of Work

Technical and digital skills are vital to the success of teams and businesses. But it’s the soft skills that truly matter in the long term.

In the workplace of the future, technical and digital skills are vital to the success of teams and businesses. But it’s the soft skills – like empathy, communication, teamwork/collaboration, resilience, critical thinking, self-motivation, integrity, and dependability – that truly matter in the long term. 

Microsoft and McKinsey report that the fastest growing occupations will require cognitive skills in areas such as problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity, and 30 to 40 percent of jobs will require explicit social-emotional ‘soft’ skills. These are the non-automatable abilities that are now essential success criteria in the rapidly-evolving workplace. Soft skills are character traits that make it possible for a person to work well and peacefully with others. They go beyond just people and social skills. These attributes – character and personality traits, attitudes, ethics, social and emotional intelligence, and related qualities – enable people to successfully navigate and engage with their environment.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Soft skills enable organisations to utilise their technical expertise and knowledge effectively and efficiently without being constrained by interpersonal conflicts, infighting, and negative public and market perceptions. When employees are equipped with a toolbox of soft skills, they are able to approach their work with a holistic sense of professionalism.

In business, soft skills are essential, as they can:

  • Improve staff retention rates
  • Strengthen teamwork and team bonds
  • Enhance employee performance and satisfaction
  • Boost productivity
  • Build effective communication and employee satisfaction
  • Increase collaboration

As technology, globalisation, and demographic shifts continue to shape how businesses compete, the importance of soft skills will grow. According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, 92% of talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, and 80% say these skills are  increasingly important to company success.

Recruiting candidates with the correct mix of soft skills requires a calculated and deliberate approach. Here are the top 10 soft skills to look for when hiring talent:

1. Communication

Monster’s global report on the future of work lists communication as one of the top three soft skills that employers want in 2022. A good communicator has the ability to convey or share ideas, instructions and emotions in a constructive way. Good talent should also have great listening skills, the ability receive constructive feedback, and the capacity to effectively present ideas in verbal and written form.

2. Problem-solving

The ability to define a problem, determine the cause of the problem, and identify, prioritise, elect, and implement solutions is an essential skill required when hiring talent. Similar to communication, problem solving is a much needed skill that employers want, and is in demand for the next decade. It encompasses additional skills such as critical thinking, analysis, logical reasoning, observation, brainstorming, and decision-making. 

3. Collaboration

This is an invaluable skill for any individual, allowing one to effectively work in a group and accomplish tasks. Collaboration impacts team morale, reduces absenteeism, and improves productivity, as well as the overall quality of the work produced. It’s not hard to see why it’s a key trait to look out for when hiring talent.

4. Interpersonal Skills

The bedrock of having a collaborative spirit is good interpersonal skills. In an increasingly globalised world, the chances of working with people from various backgrounds haven’t been greater. The capacity to interact and communicate well with others is non-negotiable now. Accepting others with tolerance and compassion, handling difficult situations with humour and empathy, and creating and taking advantage of networking opportunities are all examples of interpersonal skills that will keep the working relationships within your organisation wholesome.

5. Creativity & Innovation

According to LinkedIn behavioural data, creativity is the most in-demand soft skill in short supply. While many people only associate creativity with art or design, it’s a skill that’s applicable to almost any role. Creativity is simply coming up with new, useful and original ways to solve problems. Innovation, on the other hand, is the successful implementation of those ideas. Every business needs talent that can turn creative ideas into innovations that succeed in the marketplace.

6. Leadership

This skill isn’t limited to C-suite hires alone; employees can exhibit leadership skills at any level. Good leadership skills boost individual productivity and promote unity and collaboration in diverse teams. Such qualities frequently are accompanied by authenticity, mentorship, cultural intelligence, managerial style, and generosity.

7. Adaptability

This is the ability of a person to accept and adjust to change. With this trait, a person can quickly pick up new skills and behaviours in response to changing conditions. A person’s well-being, which spills over into their employment, depends on their capacity to think positively, maintain composure, motivate themselves, and regulate their responses and emotions. Hiring people who are flexible in this way is an asset, especially in today’s volatile business environment.

8. Time Management

The capacity to prioritise, plan and organise tasks while establishing goals has an impact on a person’s ability to manage their time effectively. Employees who know how to do this well are often able to meet critical deadlines and produce high quality work. As an employer, this will give you confidence in their output and ultimately the productivity of your organisation.

9. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is the difference between good and excellent. A person’s ability to exhibit this skill is demonstrated by their capacity to be comprehensive and accurate in all relevant contexts. Strong observational abilities, sharpness, self-awareness, and a questioning mindset are characteristics that help someone to be detail-oriented. Hiring talent with this soft skill will set your organisation apart from others.

10. Work Ethic

If there’s a soft skill that captures the essence of most of them, it’s work ethic. This is a soft skill whose definition varies from person to person, but is typically characterised by a respect for the work one does and the people they work with. Someone with a good work ethic is focused and driven to succeed. They invest effort in set personal and team goals, making it evident that they can be counted on to do what is expected of them. As an employer, you would want to hire someone with a good work ethic because they radiate infectious positivity in their work and make the workplace pleasant for all who encounter them.

Hiring for the Future of Work

Businesses are justifiably emphasising the importance of hiring talent with well-developed soft skills. A person with good communication skills is easier to work with and relates better to clients. Creative thinkers and problem-solvers can identify potential issues before they become significant and implement optimal solutions. Team members with strong time management skills are more reliable and require less oversight. Individuals with good interpersonal and teamwork skills help to foster better workplace culture. The list goes on. Ultimately, staff with high levels of soft skills can contribute to better performance on key metrics that lead to a business’s success. 

Soft skills complement hard skills and abilities, making it easier for teams to adjust as the nature of work changes. Are you selecting candidates with the skills necessary for the future of work? The ROOM is proud to connect you with highly-skilled talent who have been screened for soft skills and have the necessary attitudes to cause your organisation to flourish. 

The ROOM is home to a highly specialised community of agile digital talent, connecting individuals and companies across the globe with the skills and resources they need to future-proof their teams and thrive in the new world of work.