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What are soft skills and why are they important in the modern workplace?

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You might have noticed that the term "soft skills" is more prevalent in workplaces now than ever before. In fact, employers are placing more importance now on soft skills than hard skills when it comes to hiring new talent...

  • A study from Wonderlic found that 93% of employers said that Soft Skills are either an “essential” or “very important” factor in hiring decisions 
  • A study by Deloitte Access Economics predicts that “Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030”
  • LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that 92% of talent acquisition professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. And, 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills

So, why are soft skills important in the workplace? 

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills? 

Soft skills can be defined as:

The interpersonal skills that you use for communicating, building relationships and working effectively. They could be things such as confidence building, leadership skills, or time management.  

Hard skills can be defined as:

Things that you get more direct qualifications for or jobs that require a specific qualification in order to complete the job safely.

However, these terms can overlap a little and they may be open to interpretation. Soft skills and hard skills complement each other. But could soft skills be about to overtake hard skills when it comes to their importance in the workplace?

Are soft skills more important than hard skills?

Soft skills are the skills we use to communicate, build relationships, approach work and life, time management, and do much more. They’re often associated with personality attributes such as high productivity, resilience, a strong work ethic, and more.

Hard Skills normally refer to more direct qualifications that are more technical or quantifiable. Or in some cases they might be specific to your job, those working in nursing, building, or software development for example. 

Soft Skills often play a part in employers deciding whether to keep, hire or promote an employee too. They make it easier for people to build relationships and trust and lead teams. They are essential for workplace growth and success and can also affect your personal life too.

LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that 92% of talent acquisition professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. Additionally, 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills.

Soft Skills can be harder to learn

Soft skills can be harder to learn than hard skills, as they require a conscious effort to develop over time. Some hard skills can be learned quickly or developed over a period of time. But learning certain soft skills can depend a lot on one's character and mindset. 

The importance of soft skills for leaders

Those in leadership roles, or looking to be promoted into leadership roles should aim to develop these soft skills: 

  • Active Listening
  • Empathy
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Confidence
  • Teamwork skills
  • Time management
  • Delegation
  • Motivational skills
  • Conflict resolution

And so many more! 

In order to have a productive and well-performing team, it’s important for a leader to possess many of the hard and soft skills listed above, but a key trait that’s sought after in leaders is someone that can inspire and motivate a team. 

Organisational skills and people management are core parts of being a leader too. Hard skills might be required as part of a job role in some positions, but with the increase in demand for people to have well developed soft skills, employers might be more inclined to hire a manager that is able to inspire their team every day over someone who has an extra qualification to their name because they would be able to utilise the skills of their team.

The importance of soft skills for young employees

Young employees, or those who might be new to full-time paid employment, will also require a strong set of soft skills. The most important aspect of soft skills for young people is that they are transferable. Regardless of what job or industry they have been developed in, you could easily apply them across a multitude of job roles.

In fact, with 92% of talent acquisition professionals reporting that soft skills are equally or more important when hiring than hard skills (LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends), it’s now equally as important for young people to develop these skills with equal importance to hard skills.

Young employees might want to think about developing these skills…

  • Creative and/or critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Mindfulness
  • Time Management
  • Communication skills
  • Worth ethic
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Listening skills
  • Resilience 
  • Observational skills
  • Relationship building

And again… many more! 

As soft skills are becoming more and more a part of hiring decisions, it’s important to develop these skills as early into employees' careers as they can. If a young employee takes an interview for a job, being able to have a reference that can advocate for their work experience including their well-developed soft skills might be the difference between them getting hired or not. 

Job role or level aside, soft skills are beneficial for any employee and with their increase in popularity due to employers wanting to invest more into their employees as individuals, people without them will slowly begin to stand out more for the wrong reasons! 

Training for young employees and those in leadership positions

Our growing soft skills courses library is the perfect starting point for your employees to start developing their soft skills. 

Our Workplace training and skills for young adults bundle allows you to provide your young employees with the skills they need to thrive. You can also find out more about the Kickstart Scheme here too. Young employees can learn more about building their confidence, managing their time, and building their resilience in the workplace. 

And for those in leadership roles, our Leadership training courses bundle is a great starting point to really evolve the skills of a great leader. With courses for helping to resolve conflict, solve problems and manage both your and your team’s time, this bundle is a great starting point. 

Why are soft skills important in the workplace?

Soft skills are important in the workplace as they make success and progression possible. It’s likely that you use one or more soft skills when you have any kind of interaction with someone in the workplace. Developing these soft skills is important as they can help you to progress within your career and build long-lasting relationships at work. 

Some of the key reasons that soft skills are so important are;

  • They can help with career progression and promotions - These skills can help you to stand out against others in your interviewing processes and it’s something recruiters look out for too.
  • Soft Skills are what makes us human! It’s hard to get a computer to emulate human interactions and emotions so these skills will still be required from humans for years to come. 
  • Clients want to see these skills too - It’s not just your potential/current employers that want to see these skills. The people buying or using your products/services also want to see these skills in your customer service. With the increase in choices of where to buy from - you want to stand out from the crowd!
  • Interpersonal skills are key for any modern workplace - Strong soft skills can help employees to be more productive, encourage collaboration, help communication, and listening skills between colleagues and create a healthy work environment - all key attributes for a successful business.
  • Future workplaces will need employees with developed soft skills - As you saw in the Deloitte statistic above, due to the advances in technology and AI most likely removing the need for hard skills in people, soft skills will be largely accountable for jobs in the workplace in 2030. 

Tasks can be completed by those with both hard and soft skills, you might think of the hard skills as ‘what’ got done and the softs skills were ‘how’ they got done. And it’s likely, that on reflection of a task, or place you worked, actually those colleagues/employees you remember for getting the job done with positivity, effective communication, or good leadership skills are remembered by the ‘how’ and not the ‘what’. 

Furthermore, soft skills are important as they are transferable from job to job, and the need for soft skills is not going anywhere! As technology and jobs change, this means that the hard skills will change with them, or the skills you had 10 years ago might have become obsolete. But, the soft skills you carry now can be developed continually and, as we’ve said, they will be needed for the foreseeable future.

Learn soft skills with iHASCO

Our Soft Skills courses library has a fantastic selection of online soft skills training materials, to help you to develop your skillset and awareness. 

These eLearning courses are CPD accredited, can be completed in as little as 10 minutes, and will educate staff on the important Soft Skill topics that will enable them to thrive in the workplace.

Why not get started with a no-obligation free trial today? Or, if you’re already one of our fantastic clients, get in touch with your Account Manager today about adding these courses to your library to help develop your employee’s skills!

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