With a rapidly evolving professional landscape, there’s more to business success than technical expertise and qualifications. As businesses navigate remote work and a diversified workforce, they look for individuals with well-rounded skill sets, i.e., a combination of soft and hard skills. An increasing emphasis on collaboration and effective communication is shifting the focus on soft skills.
Employees need soft skills to create and maintain interpersonal relationships with colleagues and work towards achieving organizational goals.
Soft skills such as critical thinking ability, problem-solving strategies, creativity, and emotional quotient, can help increase productivity, overcome unforeseen challenges, and improve retention.
Most interactions require some level of soft skills. Whether it is negotiating a new contract, reaching out to a colleague for a task, networking with clients, or presenting a new idea to the leadership team. Employees are required to use soft skills to achieve business and professional goals.
Furthermore, with remote and hybrid workplaces becoming common, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability have become crucial for both employees and businesses to thrive.
For instance, according to a study by LinkedIn, 92% of talent professionals believe that soft skills are just as essential as hard skills. Soft skills enable employees to work harmoniously with one another, thus, creating a positive work environment and increasing productivity.
There is also a growing emphasis on learning soft skills among graduates. Mercer | Mettl’s report, India’s Graduate Skill Index 2023, found that 54% of learners demonstrate employability in critical thinking, a highly sought-after soft skill by organizations.
According to a study by Deloitte Access Economics, “Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.” On the other hand, according to The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum, critical thinking and problem-solving will top the list of skills that employers will want in their employees in the next five years.
As advances in automation and artificial intelligence make their use widespread, more jobs will rely on soft skills, with skills like teamwork and communication staying in high demand. Hiring people with robust soft skills will help an organization build a future-ready workforce.
Employees with high emotional intelligence can identify and manage their own emotions and those of others. This helps them empathize and build a rapport with stakeholders while motivating them. Leading to improved relationships with colleagues, customers, and supervisors.
Soft skills like teamwork and empathy help in fostering a collaborative work environment. With employees collaborating effectively, there is a greater exchange of ideas, and all conflicts are resolved constructively. This allows projects to move forward more efficiently, increasing productivity.
Soft skills contribute to the creation of a positive work culture. When employees exhibit inclusivity and positivity, it creates an environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and motivated. This improves morale, employee satisfaction, and retention rates.
Organizations can develop future leaders within their ranks using soft skills as a benchmark for identifying talent. Soft skills such as decision-making, mentorship, and strategic thinking are critical for managerial roles. These soft skills help team leads, and managers guide their teams and make sound judgments.
Organizations must innovate and adapt according to frequent changes in the business environment. Soft skills like critical thinking, creativity and adaptability allow employees to embrace change and generate innovative solutions, causing their employers to stay competitive in the changing market.
Soft skills such as attention to detail, thoroughness, and analytical thinking allow individuals to analyze complex situations and consider multiple perspectives to arrive at solutions. This leads to better decision-making and improved outcomes.
These soft skills also allow employees to identify potential risks and prevent errors, helping them mitigate risks and maintain high-quality standards.
Remote work has significantly increased the need for strong communication skills as employees work and communicate virtually. Such a scenario demands that every employee should be able to express their needs and ideas both in-person and through different online channels, such as email and instant messengers.
Time management involves setting priorities, organizing tasks, and allotting time to different activities depending on the priority set. It requires employees to have willingness and discipline to avoid distractions and complete the task within the decided period. Employees with good time management skills are seen as reliable and efficient, helping them stand out in the workplace.
Creativity is the ability to develop new ideas and requires the candidate to have a curious, inquisitive mindset. It helps in problem-solving by allowing the employee to view and tackle problems from different perspectives. Therefore, creative employees aid organizations in developing new products and systems, giving them an edge over their competitors.
Apart from the ability to see a situation from different viewpoints, problem-solving involves an analytical thinking approach to the issue. Problem-solving allows employees to come up with alternative solutions. This skill is vital for identifying and addressing complex challenges and opportunities that may arise.
Teamwork is collaborating with others toward a shared target or goal. It requires communication, collaboration, and the ability to work in a group. Employees who can work with others are more likely to attain their professional goals while also contributing to the organization's success. Further, teamwork fosters creativity as it encourages everyone to share ideas and collaborate on new projects. It creates a positive work environment, keeping employees happy and enhancing their job satisfaction.
The ability to lead is a critical component of professional success and is highly valued by all organizations. Good leaders inspire and motivate their teams to achieve success. Leaders set clear goals along with a plan for achieving those goals. They communicate this effectively to their team while creating a culture of excellence.
Adaptability is vital in helping individuals adjust to changing circumstances by learning new skills to remain relevant. It allows employees to bounce back from setbacks much faster. Such individuals can read situations and quickly adjust their approach based on them.
Emotional intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to their emotions and those of others. It means that the person can think empathetically about the people they work with.
With an increased focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), emotional intelligence is one of the critical soft skills employees are expected to demonstrate. A CareerBuilder survey reported that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ. At the same time, 75% of employers are more likely to promote an employee with a higher emotional quotient (EQ) over someone with a higher IQ.
Evaluating employees’ soft skills is more challenging than assessing hard skills, as soft skills are subjective and context-dependent. The best approach is to implement a well-structured evaluation process. This will help ensure fairness and accuracy in evaluation.
Here’s how organizations can evaluate their employees’ soft skills:
Whether for hiring or employee development, Mercer | Mettl offers reliable and scientifically validated tests designed by leading industry experts. Mercer | Mettl’s assessment platform is robust, scalable, and equipped with AI-based proctoring tools, providing recruiters with end-to-end assessments.
Some key offerings by Mercer | Mettl are:
Mercer | Mettl’s behavioral assessments evaluate a candidate’s competencies by simulating the work environment. The test observes and predicts the behavior traits required to excel in a particular role. Some of the attributes behavioral tests assess are:
Mercer | Mettl’s Cognitive Abilities Assessment assesses an individual’s critical thinking, verbal reasoning, numerical ability, problem-solving, decision-making, and other essential skills. In addition, it tests candidates’ on-the-job performance and intelligence quotient (IQ). The assessment can also be used to test role-specific IQs.
Soft skills are the cornerstone of effective teamwork, leadership, customer relations, and overall success. Organizations that prioritize developing and cultivating these skills foster a thriving work environment that drives innovation, growth, and lasting success.
Originally published August 25 2023, Updated August 25 2023
Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.
The accelerated pace at which businesses are rushing toward digitization has primarily established that digital skills are an enabler. It has also established the ever-changing nature of digital skills, and created a need for continuous digital upskilling and reskilling to protect the workforce from becoming obsolete.