Adapting to work | Study supposedly discovers the 'number one' soft skill, and it's good news for HR

Study supposedly discovers the 'number one' soft skill, and it's good news for HR

These days, soft skills are what companies looking for when they’re searching for top talented employees. However, with so many distinct soft skills out there and new trends emerging daily, it’s getting more difficult to stand out and showcase one’s talent.

Getting ahead at work and ranking top is a big deal for many employees and for future candidates that want to impress employers at their next major interview. But what are employers really looking for, and how can they find it?

A new study conducted by Harvard Business School uncovered that 71% of 1,500 executives from across 90 countries stated that adaptability is the most important quality they look for in a leader.

In fact, data from a 2021 McKinsey & Company study discovered that people proficient in adaptability were 24% more likely to be employed.


The Rise of Globally Distributed Teams

The Rise of Globally Distributed Teams

While arguments over remote work continue, a quieter movement is rapidly overtaking hesitancy in the headlines: the rise of distributed work.

Employees discovered increased mobility and flexibility through remote work, while businesses grappled with uncertain budgets and new challenges to measure productivity and engagement.

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From both fundamental studies, a number one soft skill arises, which is adaptability. On the other hand, the key skill of adaptability shouldn’t take you by surprise, because in today’s ever-changing workflow environments, adaptability is a means that keeps us sane and ultimately ‘going with the flow’.

COVID-19 and the effects it's had on working models and schedules has also prove andaptability to be a crucial asset for businesses globally. For instance, many businesses have adopted new means to instil adaptability for their employees. Flexible working conditions are a common method.

How can adaptability be showcased?

HR experts have pointed out that there's a thin line between adaptability and resilience, and that employees usually confuse the two skills. Instead, to be adaptable as an employee, you must be actively ready for change and, at many times, push for it.

Another great way to exbibit adaptability is to consistently add more skills to your skillset. Jacqueline Brassey, Chief Scientist at McKinsey & Company’s People & Organisational Performance Practice, explains the critical importance of adaptability by stating: “Adaptability is about ‘bouncing forwards’ and means you’ve gone beyond simply enduring a challenge to thrive beyond it.”

However, adaptability can indeed help people as a whole to stay calm during a crisis and be prepared for upcoming challenges too, especially for businesses looking to improve their workflow results.

Brassey expresses: “Adaptability not only helps us avoid being overwhelmed, it helps us get creative and seize opportunities amidst the chaos.” As seen with the statement made by Brassey not only does adaptability help employees maintain stability and seize opportunities within the workforce but it can also enhance employee wellbeing.

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Dorie Clark, a Consultant and Adjunct Executive-education Professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business added: “When there is a jarring shift in expectations or norms, adaptability moves to the front of the line as an essential skill because you need to survey the new terrain very rapidly to understand that things have changed.” Clark adds: “You need to be both willing and able to adjust your mentality and behaviour so you can participate effectively in that new reality.”

In addition, research implemented by McKinsey established that honing adaptability adds significant gains, as when workers at one company were supplied with online modules designed to enhance adaptability, even brief exposure to the material assisted them in seeing meaningful boosts in adaptability-linked behaviours such as learning skills, empathy and self-awareness.

So, to bounce forward, enhance wellbeing and be at the top of your work the key soft skill to push for is adaptability. Not only will this skill help you perform better, be creative and seize opportunities, it at the end of the day will make you prepared for future challenges that work may hold. 



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