When evaluating job applicants, employers should rely on more than a person’s industry experience. While job-specific skills are important, the applicant’s soft skills must also be considered. This guide will introduce you to soft skills and help show why they are highly desirable characteristics for your employees to possess.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are non-technical abilities that positively impact employee performance and transcend industry-specific knowledge. For example, the “hard skill” of knowing how to code only applies to certain occupations, while understanding how to work in a team can be applied to any position. The latter is a “soft skill.” Soft skills generally consist of traits gained from social interactions and workplace experiences. Some examples include being:
- Skilled at conflict resolution
- Emotionally intelligent
- Skilled at networking
While some employees may benefit from these skills naturally, others may require upskilling or reskilling to develop and hone these essential characteristics. Indeed, those who possess soft skills are valuable assets for all organizations, so it’s essential for employers to recognize these traits in their job applicants. Companies should also be encouraged to invest in professional soft skill career coaching. Career coaches can offer assessments to help employees identify their soft skill strengths and weaknesses, and help them to make focused improvements. Organizations should provide employees with these and other opportunities to develop new soft skills to help them grow as professionals in the workplace.
Soft Skills Examples
Having a solid understanding of how to interact with other employees is a necessary skill for all professionals, especially those working in a team environment. Communication skills will improve how employees collaborate with their peers and prevent misunderstandings. Those with soft skills related to communication may also be good at negotiating, presenting, and writing.
Imagine having to choose between two candidates for a leadership role. One person is a confident speaker who actively communicates with their peers, while the other is reserved and lacks teamwork experience. The employee with more soft skills in communication would likely be a better fit for the position.
Typically, professionals will have a certain degree of autonomy in the workplace. This makes problem-solving skills a crucial trait for your team members to possess. Unpredictable or complicated situations can occur during shifts that force employees to come up with solutions on their own. Those who can confidently and properly overcome workplace obstacles are extremely valuable to an organization.
If a customer has a complaint, for example, it would be ideal to have a professional with problem-solving soft skills handle the situation. An employee with such skills can work with the customer without feeling stress. They may also have the knowledge to quickly solve the issue without escalating it to a manager.
Professionals with excellent time management skills will stay productive throughout their shifts and know how to prioritize their tasks. Employees who manage their time effectively are also typically better at multitasking, juggling different projects at once, and still meeting agreed deadlines. This makes it a crucial workplace skill.
Completing work on time is crucial in all industries. Employers need professionals who are responsible enough to finish their obligations. Training programs that focus on soft skills, including working on time management essentials such as weekly goal setting, task prioritization and delegation skills, can help employers upskill their workforce, making it more efficient.
Many teams will encounter daily challenges during their workday that require critical thinking skills to overcome. Employees who are critical thinkers skills are analytical, flexible, resourceful, and can make helpful observations about situations. For example, employees that use their critical thinking skills to identify inefficiencies in their company’s day-to-day operations can save the business valuable time and money. This is because these skills enable employees to better examine processes, systems and workflows to evaluate their efficiency. From these observations, decisions can be made about improving old systems and processes or investing in new ones.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Hiring professionals who possess soft skills will result in positive changes to all aspects of a company. The work culture of an organization can improve by employing those with collaboration skills and good emotional intelligence. Businesses may increase the quality of their services by hiring detail-oriented individuals, and finding professionals with excellent social skills and dispute-resolution abilities can improve how customers feel when interacting with a company.
Knowing how to identify soft skills allows employers to find professionals who can become assets to the organization. If you understand the skills an employee brings to a team, you’ll also be able to assign them to the roles that best suit their strengths.
However, as touched upon above, as well as looking to hire candidates with these skills, concentrating on upskilling and reskilling your existing workforce is also a good idea. Professional career coaches can be hired to provide soft skills training courses and workshops, for example, while online upskilling programs can be purchased and rolled-out to all employees.
Remember—soft skills are attributes that will never lose their importance in the workplace. These characteristics are what shape employees into highly sought-after team members who can be an asset to companies in every industry. INTOO’s coaches help employees in every stage of their career develop strategies to meet their goals, while employers reap the benefits of increased engagement, productivity, and retention. Learn more about how our career development programs can benefit your company.
INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.