As the workplace continues to change and the world undergoes constant upheaval, soft skills or “human skills” have become even more important. While more traditional technical “hard skills” like managing a budget, coding, analytics, and writing are still needed for day-to-day success, soft skills training has proven time and again to result in stronger leadership and long-term success within a company.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills, also known as power skills or human skills, are ways of thinking and being that allow us to manage our own mental health as well as interact with and navigate through social situations with others.
Some examples of soft skills include:
- Understanding personal bias
- Decision making
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Conflict resolution
- Creative thinking
Where hard skills require doing, soft skills are often more focused on ways of being or thinking.
Why should we call them human skills?
Soft skills were previously considered a “nice to have” in business when, in fact, studies have shown that strong soft skills boost productivity and retention by 12% and deliver a 250% return on investment.
Another study reported that emotional intelligence skills make up nearly 90% of the attributes that set high-performing leaders apart.
These studies make it clear that soft skills training creates effective employees and leaders. By calling soft skills “human skills” instead, we remove the assumption that they’re not a must-have for top-performing employees and reiterate their importance in the workplace.
What soft skills or human skills are most wanted by employers?
According to an aggregate compiled list of industry articles, the top power skills employers look for are:
- Time management
- Goal setting
- Creative thinking
- Positive mindset
- Assessment skills
- Good work ethic and resilience
While these skills seem like basic expectations of individuals in the workforce, one study showed that 59% of U.S. hiring managers believe it’s difficult to find candidates with these particular human skills. While not all employees come into a role with these skills perfected, they can be developed over time with the right learning and development program.
How do I help my team build soft skills or human skills?
The best way to build human skills is through continuous learning in the flow of work. Human skills don’t come naturally to everyone, especially as some of them are closely related to societal norms which may be challenging for neurodivergent individuals. But with ongoing reflection, learning, and practice employees can develop these skills.
Trying to hone numerous human skills at once can be overwhelming for anyone.
Decide on a set of skills that align with your organization’s values and start there. Consider investing in an L&D platform that allows you to curate for learning outcomes that are important to your organization.
It’s also been proven that manager involvement increases the likelihood that employees engage with skills development opportunities, so get your leadership team involved in the conversation.
Focusing on human skills in today’s workplace
Many companies are working more asynchronously than ever before, experiencing retention and hiring challenges, and trying to deal with taxing world events affecting mental health.
While it’s exceptionally important for leadership to develop their human skills to deal with these difficulties, making sure every employee is honing these skills is key. Developing human skills company-wide will influence and shift the culture to make even the biggest obstacles manageable as a human-centered organization.