The phrase “soft skills” is thrown around so much that it’s almost become a cliche. However, many success gurus agree that soft skills are the cornerstone of long-term resilience in our society’s fast-paced, unpredictable environment. In other words, they separate the winners from the rest in the grand scheme of things.
In Episode 09 of Thriver Podcast, personal development expert Elan Divon shares how any individual or organization wanting to succeed long-term must prioritize continual soft skills development. With his words of wisdom in mind, we created today’s post to demonstrate why soft skills matter in the workplace and how to braid them into your organizational structure.
What Are Soft Skills?
Investopedia provides the following definition:
“Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people. In the workplace, soft skills are considered to be a complement to hard skills, which refer to a person’s knowledge and occupational skills.”
Simply put, hard skills are what you do; soft skills are how you do it. They are the distinguishing factors between people who are merely good at their jobs and people who are great at them.
For example, a good teacher knows their material well and communicates it effectively. A great teacher demonstrates empathy through active listening and paying attention to each individual’s learning needs.
Why Employees and Employers Should Both Care
Times have changed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. While unskilled, manual labour once dominated most daily tasks, higher education is now a cultural norm in many societies, and creativity, innovation and collaboration are at the forefront of most types of modern work.
Still, lots of individuals mistakenly believe that technical skills and work ethic alone are enough. These traits matter, but soft skills will allow employees to remain adaptable and thrive in a competitive, ever-evolving job market.
Employers must also value soft skills development, both on an individual and company-wide scale.
With artificial intelligence on the rise, machinery continues to replace several jobs that involve data analysis and computation. Technology will only become more and more complex as time goes on. Companies must encourage lifelong learning among workers to keep up with these changes and empower them to do what computers can’t do: think critically, empathize, and develop creative solutions to problems.
3 Ways to Invest in Your Staff’s Soft Skills
Elan suggests three ways to create an environment that will help employees exercise and strengthen their soft skills:
Develop employee career development strategies
Help staff members build intentionality around their long-term career growth. For example, pair each one up with more senior mentors and coaches who will work with them to set professional goals, provide actionable feedback, and monitor progress. Make sure to provide workers with the relevant resources and training needed to attain each new growth level.
Establish a sense of purpose among workers
If workers feel like their tasks have no meaning, they will check out mentally and emotionally. Not long afterwards, their work quality may start to slip. Eventually, they might give up entirely and leave the company in search of better opportunities. Businesses lose many talented people this way every day.
To avoid this, make sure your staff understands the organization’s vision and how they fit into that. The more relevant their jobs feel, the more they will invest themselves in the company’s goals. Click here for our best tips on how to foster a sense of purpose in your team.
Encourage mindfulness and good habits
We conduct at least 40% of our daily actions based on habit rather than conscious thought. Given that most people spend at least nearly half of their waking hours at work during the week, employers must learn to recognize and leverage the power of habits that impact employee behaviour and performance. For example, work-related stress is a constant challenge for many. Teach staff healthy stress management techniques, such as exercising regularly and fuelling up with nutritious food.
If you can teach your team good habits, you can positively influence their behaviour, positively affecting the overall corporate climate.
In Closing: The Top Predictors of Long-Term Success
Employers often place all the responsibility on potential candidates and workers to naturally possess the above desirable traits. On the other hand, employees typically expect their superiors to teach them everything needed for success. This thinking creates a gap in understanding between individuals and organizations, hindering overall progress. It’s far more productive to recognize that the onus is upon both parties to appreciate and invest in soft skills development for everyone’s benefit.
How can your company get started? Join us for Elan Divon’s success strategy workshop, where he discusses how to develop timeless traits for long-term performance. Also, if you missed it, remember to check out Episode 09 of the Thriver podcast!