Human skills are the new hard skills: Succeeding in the future workplace

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Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 1:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 1:59 PM

The workplace has changed rapidly over the last few years. The rise of technology and automation has disrupted many industries, leading to a shift in the skills that employers look for in their workforce. It is now clear that human skills have surpassed hard skills in the future workplace. Margarita Volovikova, an HR business consultant, shares her tips on how to succeed in the rapidly changing world of corporate relations.

By Deepak Jain

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According to a recent report by BCG and Emsi Burning Glass, over one-third of the top 20 coveted skills in postings for the average job have changed since 2016. This shift highlights the extent to which the skills required in the workplace are changing. Indeed, it's no longer enough to have technical skills alone. Modern employers are looking for individuals who possess the ability to connect with others on a human level, lead and inspire, and work collaboratively with others.

The top five most sought-after skills for employers today are all human skills: communication, customer service, leadership, attention to detail, and collaboration. These skills are critical in today's workplace, and they are in high demand across a wide range of industries.

The Pearson Skill Outlook report on 'power skills' analysed labour market trends in four major economies – US, UK, Australia, and Canada. The report found that, while technical skills remain highly valued, human skills are becoming increasingly important. The report identified three additional human skills that will further increase in demand in the future:

● Adaptability and learning skills

Employees must have the ability to adapt and learn quickly. In a future defined by its rapidly changing world, those who can master new skills and technologies will be in high demand.

● Achievement focus

Employers are placing increasing value on individuals who are driven and motivated to achieve their goals. Rather than simply utilising technical skills, the ideal employee has a highly sought-after combination of ambition and focus.

● Cultural and social intelligence

As the work world becomes progressively globalised, it's essential that individuals can work effectively with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Those who possess cultural and social intelligence are highly valued in today's modern workplace.

As an HR business consultant, I have seen first-hand the importance of human skills in the workplace. The ability to communicate effectively, work collaboratively, and inspire and lead others are all critical skills for a worker’s success. But these skills are not just important for an employee's future– they are also essential for the success of organisations altogether.

These days, one of my top professional priorities is to help organisations understand the importance of human skills and to identify ways to develop and nurture those skills among their employees. This can be done through a variety of methods, including:

Training and development programmes:

Creating training and development programs that focus on improving employee human skills that will benefit the particular business. These can include communication, customer service, leadership, collaboration, personal learning and mastery, achievement focus, and cultural and social intelligence, among others.

Performance management:

Incorporating human skills into the performance management process ensures that employees are evaluated not just on their technical skills, but also on their ability to communicate, collaborate, and lead.

Recruitment and selection:

When hiring new employees, focus on identifying candidates with strong human skills in addition to technical expertise. This process involves using behavioural interview questions and assessments to evaluate candidates' communication skills, leadership potential, and ability to work effectively in teams.

Leadership development:

Developing leadership programs that emphasise the importance of utilising human skills in effective leadership. Providing coaching and mentoring to help leaders develop their communication, collaboration, and emotional intelligence skills.

Employee engagement:

Fostering a culture of collaboration, communication, and continuous learning to promote the development of human skills among employees. Encouraging employees to participate in team-building activities and cross-functional projects that help them develop their collaboration and communication skills.

Ultimately, my goal is to help organisations recognise that human skills are critical for success in the future workplace and to assist in creating a culture that supports the development and growth of those skills among all employees. By doing so, organisations can ensure that they have a workforce that is prepared for any challenges and changes the future may bring. Such employees– and the companies they help succeed– will successfully adapt and thrive in an ever-changing business landscape.

Deepak Jain is a freelancer content writer.

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