Essential skills for work | Why are they important and how to improve them?
When it comes to the success of a company, a lot of aspects need to be taken into account. Your employees and their abilities play a big part in what the future of your business is going to look like. While possessing hard skills in their job position is crucial, soft skills in the workplace are what can make the difference in terms of success. What are soft skills and why are they so important? How to develop essential skills for work? deskbird digs into this important topic which is, more than ever, in the centre of discussion as hybrid working models are spreading worldwide.
What is the meaning of soft skills in the workplace?
Soft skills are personality traits that help workers to fit in their job position as well as in the corporation. They enable them to grow in their career and give more chances to the business for success. Hiring people that possess essential skills matching your company’s values should be one of your main concerns to create a positive workplace culture.
Those qualities are also shaping how your teams work. Are they active listeners? Do they solve problems easily? Do they show critical thinking? Soft skills in the workplace are important in the long term to build a functional working structure and ensure positive outcomes.
Differences between soft skills and hard skills
Those qualities are also referred to as interpersonal skills, in opposition to hard skills that are based on job-specific knowledge. For example, a hard skill for a data analyst is to be able to read and understand data. However, without a soft skill such as communication, sharing this knowledge can become tricky, does it make sense?
While hard skills can be taught, soft skills are more characteristics of your personality such as decision making or a positive attitude. They are innate and can be developed, but hardly learnt from scratch.
Last but not least, in comparison to technical skills, soft skills are transferable across job positions and sectors of activities. For example, communication, as being able to express yourself clearly and empathy, is as important for a social media manager as for a team leader. Both job positions require sharing clear information and guidelines.
Why are they so important?
As we started to explain above, soft skills are important as they bring additional value to an organisation. Their weight is sometimes even more significant in a hiring process. A perfect example to prove this point is when you look at a job description. Interpersonal skills are as mentioned as hard skills.
Are you wondering why? It’s the personal fit! For some companies, soft skills are even more important for their business than technical skills. Therefore, they do not want to miss a great hiring opportunity, and their focus might be more on soft skills than hard skills. When in front of a candidate, they don’t only look at their technical competencies but also how they behave and function.
It has indeed become a key differentiator for hiring processes, where HR tend to value more people with essential skills that match their needs. Again, you may wonder why that is? It is easier to teach hard skills than non-technical skills which can only be developed and need to be part of the person’s inner characteristics. It is more difficult to find an employee with the soft skills required for the job than an applicant with all the technical knowledge.
According to an interview of SHRM for a LinkedIn report published in 2018:
“Soft skills — which are needed to effectively communicate, problem-solve, collaborate and organize — are becoming more important for success as the workplace evolves socially and technologically.”
➡️ To learn more about how hybrid work models are changing the way we work, read our article about Hybrid Work and its Advantages!
What are examples of soft skills in the workplace?
Numerous qualities are strongly appreciated and required in a work environment. Here is a list of the 13 most common examples of soft skills in the workplace:
- Active listening;
- time management;
- critical thinking;
- conflict management;
- work ethic;
- decision making;
- public speaking.
Another easy way to understand what soft skills are is to remember that they are qualities that are hardly replaceable by Artificial Intelligence. Interpersonal skills, also called human skills, are Emotional Intelligence and work complementary to AI.
➡️ Do you know which changes are going to reshuffle our work environment? Here is an article about Workplace Trends for 2022 to give a quick glimpse of what to expect!
How to improve essential skills for work?
Choose one soft skill and practise it
Learning new soft skills can be difficult if they are not already part of who you are. The best way to improve essential skills for work is then to focus on your qualities and try to get even better at them. For example, if you are good at public speaking, practise it even more in order that it becomes innate. In a similar way as creating a habit, the more you do it, the more it becomes natural and gets closer to perfection.
Learn from others
You can also learn from other team members, managers or CEOs. Listen, watch, and see if there is a skill you would also need or like to master better. Once you know which soft skill this person masters better than you, try to implement what they do. You can only observe, or directly talk to them about it and ask for advice.
Quite often, active listeners are taking notes during meetings. It helps them process the information and be ready to use it. If you know this is not your best essential skill, try to implement this trick and… practice!
Another important point when looking for methods to improve soft skills is to find the right resources. As the importance of soft skills is becoming more and more obvious, many supports are available nowadays to help people to develop those skills. Some require a financial investment but you can also find some for free. You can attend online training, a conference, an external or in-house instructor-led class. Personal coaching and certification programs are also available.
Create time for learning
Last but not least, making time for learning is crucial, especially when it comes to soft skills. The new working concepts such as hybrid work models require core skills such as communication, adaptability, teamwork, time management and so on. Taking time for employees to learn, and giving them time to improve those human skills is, therefore, one of the main focuses for today’s businesses.
deskbird hopes you have learnt more about soft skills in the workplace with this article and are motivated to make them your key focus. As finding collaborators that match your needs in terms of work and values is not always easy, it is important to provide a positive workplace culture where people come first. This is also deskbird’s hot-desking software goal, are you interested to know how? Don’t hesitate to contact our team to request a demo!