A range of soft skills should be considered an essential toolkit for any employee. In a highly competitive market, a business can stand out from the crowd when they show human qualities, such as kindness and empathy in their practices.
Likewise, employees who demonstrate qualities such as resilience, good communication, and strong leadership will help a business succeed and thrive. Organisations should ask themselves ‘what soft skills do our employees possess and what are the desired qualities we want our staff to demonstrate?’ These soft skills should be embedded in a company’s culture, and continuous development should always be encouraged. This is not only crucial for the business but also for the individual and their personal growth.
Here are three of arguably the most highly sought after soft skills that employers can help their employees build on and strengthen further.
Effective communication is an art. Often the focus on communication is one-sided, when in fact effective communication relies on a connection between those communicating. Communication has only occurred when a message, whether it is spoken, recorded or written, has been received, interpreted, and caused a response.
Throughout the pandemic, effective communication became more important than ever. Whether staff were working from home, furloughed or continuing to go into the workplace, good communication was vital to ensure employees remained informed. Good communication between customers and suppliers was also vital to keep a business operating smoothly or temporarily pause operations, and help maintain good relationships. Effective communication can be the difference between business success and failure, and is an essential skill in the workplace.
Self-confidence is a mind-set. When someone feels confident they will perform better. Having confidence will allow an employee to be their best self and get stuck into their role more independently, even if they are completing one-off projects or tasks that they are not familiar with. Confidence will allow employees to learn faster, as they will have enough trust in themselves to take risks and whether they succeed or fail, they will have learnt from the experience. A confident employee is more likely to be productive and motivated, set a good example to other members of the team and provide positive contributions. Employees who come across confident will also be better received by your customers, and help build your brand image.
Anyone can learn to be resilient. With some time and effort, resilience can be built and have a hugely positive impact on how someone copes with a set back or a high stress situation. Resilience is a vital skill to use in times of change, adversity and hardship. It goes without saying that a global pandemic has been a good test for resilience. Those employees that are more resilient will have likely coped better with this unprecedented situation over those who are less resilient. A resilient employee is accepting of change and challenges, and sees them as opportunities for professional or personal development. Developing personal resilience can also help someone see a situation from a fresh perspective, and adjust their behaviour to make a positive change to the benefit of the business.
Building on soft skills
There’s always room to keep learning, growing, and developing soft skills. Employers can play a vital role in supporting their employees, and ensuring they are equipped with the right soft skills for their role. On-the-job learning, receiving coaching or feedback, as well as enrolling in online courses can all be simple ways to help an employee develop their soft skills. A good starting point is offering a range of bite-sized eLearning modules to help individuals focus on a specific soft skill, including self-confidence, mindfulness and critical thinking. Choosing eLearning allows employees to pick a convenient time to learn, and can provide a good introduction to the topic, as well as provide practical tips to start implementing straight away.
The Future of Jobs Report 2020, published by the World Economic Forum, found that demand for online learning and training for personal development courses has increased by 88%, for those in employment. Self improvement skills, such as mindfulness and gratitude were seen as some of the key focus areas. It is clear that soft skills are valuable, particularly in an ever-changing environment, where businesses need to be on top of their game to succeed.
Interested in further understanding the importance of soft skills in the workplace? Download our Soft Skills Whitepaper for more information.