Is there anything “Soft” About Soft Skills in the Workplace?

On the heels of new awareness about how these personality traits, habits and behaviors are key to professional success, “soft skills” are on the way to becoming one of the top new buzz words for employment in 2021. But how big of a role do these skills actually play in the workplace and beyond?
Teamwork is a major soft skill

While many may wrongly assume that soft skills in the workplace such as leadership, intelligence, creativity and work ethic don’t matter as much in an era of nonstop technological innovation. The reality is that they’re more important than ever. These soft skills are uniquely human, and they can’t be replaced or automated easily; they’re like our superpowers. 

While the employment world is starting to take these skills seriously, employees and candidates must gain a deeper understanding of what soft skills actually are in order to leverage them effectively. 

So, what are soft skills, anyway?

As soft skills are often misunderstood, it’s important to think about what this term means. While a common misconception is that these skills are labeled soft because they aren’t important or essential. This couldn’t be further from the truth – “soft” simply means that these skills aren’t as easy to measure. 

Soft skills in the workplace are distinct from hard skills such as coding, SEO or the ability to speak a language. These skills are easy to demonstrate through things like assessments, certifications and formal education. When it comes to hiring, we have often seen hard skills receive more emphasis because they’re easy to quantify and prove. However, soft skills are equally valuable — if not more so. 

Key soft skills in the workplace include:

  • Leadership
  • Work Ethic
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork 
  • Time management
  • Grit
  • Communication

Innovations in tech drive demand for soft skills

Contrary to what is widely believed, soft skills are now becoming ever more important in all aspects of hiring, but why? Emerging Technologies are changing the way we work, and this trend will only continue at an ever-increasing pace.

It had become common for some to  wonder if workers would be replaced by robots. Instead, we’re seeing the opposite: human specific capabilities are more becoming more in demand than ever. While many hard skills can be automated by robotics or AI, capabilities such as empathy, analytical thinking and emotional intelligence can’t be programmed or quantified yet. 

For example, humans use empathy to understand other people’s perspectives or put themselves in other’s shoes, such as when conflicts arise in the workplace or even more so when coaching or teaching a team member. It’s unlikely that a Human Resources conflict-resolution robot will be invented anytime soon. To prepare for the needs of tomorrow’s workforce, we need to focus on emphasizing soft skills today.

Prioritize soft skills now to pave the way for future success

From emotional intelligence to creativity and collaboration, soft skills are some of the most valuable skills and behaviors that continue to lead directly to success. Despite ever-growing fears that new emerging technologies will replace humans entirely, we are instead witnessing the opposite: a reemerging appreciation for uniquely human traits and capabilities. 

And remember, there’s nothing soft about soft skills!

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