Everyone wants the best candidate for the job. However, scouting for the applicant with the most impressive resume is usually how employers think they will get the best talent.
Yes, the resume is a beneficial document summarising a person’s education, qualifications, and past professional experience. In addition, it gives a reasonably accurate picture of whether the candidate can perform the job they are applying for.
But, hiring the ideal candidate is not as simple as previewing a summary of impressive qualifications, education, or even counting the years on a resume.
It is about determining if the candidate has the right balance of job skills, experience, and, more importantly, a good cache of soft skills to handle the role.
So, what are soft skills?
Across any job (and generally in life), soft skills have always been crucial.
In fact, in research conducted in 1918 by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Centre concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills.
Conversely, only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills). This research was conducted more than a hundred years ago, but it is still relevant today because, if anything, the need for soft skills has only increased.
In the modern workplace, it takes more than just being skilled at the job to get it done. These days it is all about collaboration, relationships, efficiency and swiftness, and these require good soft skills. So, irrespective of the type of company or the kind of job, soft skills are vital.
Another popular study showed that a staggering 70% of the variation between great workplace engagement and lousy workplace engagement could be explained just by the quality of the manager or team leader. This is because soft skills have a significant impact on interpersonal relationships and behaviour in a professional setting.
If a person has the right soft skills, it is easier to form strong relationships, be empathetic, work well with colleagues, and also tap into better career opportunities.If a person has the right soft skills, it is easier to form strong relationships, be empathetic, work well with colleagues, and also tap into better career opportunities. Click To Tweet
Therefore, HR must learn to recognise these skills and hire new talent accordingly. In addition, they should also reward good soft skills in current employees (which generally go unnoticed and unappreciated). Here’s a good starting point…
Six Soft Skills to Look Out For in Potential Employees
1. Communication skills
Communication is an essential skill in any setting. However, it becomes even more important in the workspace because it can eliminate unnecessary problems, enhance performance, increase productivity, and create a strong team.
Teams/employees that communicate well work well, bond well and find more creative solutions together.
2. Listening skills
Listening is receiving and interpreting messages in the communication process.
It is another essential soft skill for employees to have. It is the key to all effective communication. In the absence of effective listening, messages are easily misunderstood, communication breaks down, and chaos can ensue.
But on the flip side, good listening skills can ensure better productivity, efficiency, fewer mistakes, and increased information communication, leading to more creative and innovative work.
3. Time management
Time management is the ability to plan and exercise control over the time allocated to specific tasks or activities. Everyone knows that this soft skill is vital, but only a few actually focus on it.
Employees with time-management skills are highly efficient, productive, and know how to prioritise tasks, have lower stress levels, and more free time. Good time management also means no missed deadlines and crunch situations.
Loosely put, empathy is the ability to understand things from another person’s perspective.
Empathy is always necessary for human interaction. In a professional setting, it helps to build relationships, improves collaboration and raises morale. It creates a growth environment because people are not scared of making mistakes in front of colleagues and those mistakes become stepping stones to learn and grow.
Empathy is extremely crucial to a positive work culture and an organisation’s overall success.
5. Work ethic
Dedication, commitment, effort, loyalty are qualities that define a good work ethic. People who have a good work ethic are committed to their jobs, derive pleasure from successes and are inspired.
Employees with a good work ethic also tend to inspire others around them. As a result, they make great ambassadors for the company- both internally and externally.
Difficult, unexpected, or complicated matters can arise at any level in a company. It, therefore, becomes useful when employees have good problem-solving skills. They enable people to focus on finding a solution instead of fretting about the problem.
Problem-solving skills comprise a mix of leadership, communication, creativity, dependability, decision-making, and comprehensive analysis.
How to Boost Those Soft Skills in Your Workforce
Although soft skills are crucial for everyone, many people lack these. But the good news is that they can be developed with some effort and patience.
Here are a few ways to boost soft skills at the workplace:
1. Encourage a mindset of learning, change, and betterment
Encouraging and supporting employees to learn and upskill themselves all the time creates an organisational culture of growth, and employees will automatically want to evolve.
2. Impart skills that are lacking
Sometimes all it takes is teaching people that there is a better way to do things. For example, workshops and seminars on soft skills can help employees understand the importance of soft skills, how these skills can enhance their lives (both personal and professional), and how they can develop and hone them.
3. Get employees to act on what they have learnt
During team assignments, let them know that they are being evaluated on their soft skills like communication, problem-solving, time management, etc. Let them discover the benefits of good soft skills for themselves.
4. Give gentle feedback
When employee evaluations are complete, if there were ways they could have used their skills in a better manner, then they deserve to know. Feedback in the right spirit will always be well received- especially if the organisation has created a learning and growth culture.
Developing soft skills is no easy feat, so can it be avoided? Unfortunately, the answer to that is a resounding no!
Developing employee soft skills is crucial for several reasons. Soft skills are necessary for employee retention, improving leadership, and building a positive and healthy work culture.
In addition, developing employees’ soft skills also helps companies avoid the costs that they can incur from employee conflict, lack of communication, absenteeism, low quality work, and ultimately loss of good talent.
If companies want to get the best out of their employees and work with maximum efficiency, soft skills development is a must. And it is also crucial to reward the employee who displays these skills constantly. Find out more here.
Simply put, recognising, rewarding, and even imparting soft skills to your employees can give a company a competitive advantage, improve work culture, and even positively affect the company’s bottom line. These are undoubtedly compelling reasons to start thinking about developing employee soft skills!
And now, it’s your turn! If you have learned a soft skill that has changed your perspective or if your company has an excellent soft skill training programme, let us know about it! Go ahead, leave us a comment or get in touch with us- we would love to hear from you!