The 7 Most Important Soft Skills in the Workplace

Your employees drive your business. They are the first point of contact for your clients. In addition to the necessary technical skills needed to do their jobs, you must ensure your staff possesses strong soft skills too. A combination of hard and soft skills in the workplace will make your team, and in turn your business, more efficient and productive.

What are soft skills and hard skills?

Soft skills refer to a person's communication and people skills. They are intangible and hence difficult to measure. But soft skills are just as important in the workplace as hard skills. Emotional intelligence, time management, adaptability, creativity are all examples of soft skills.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are the job-specific skills, such as data analysis, UX design, marketing skills, etc.

Why are soft skills important?

The success of a team, and a business, does not just depend on workers having the technical know-how to do their jobs. It also depends on how employees interact with each other and with your clients.

Soft skills help employees fully utilize their hard skills. Skills such as conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, time management, working well under pressure are critical in the workplace.

Employees with soft skills make for good team players and efficient managers. They are good at building relationships and easier to get along with. They also make for good ambassadors of your brand and have the potential to grow in their role and at your company.

What are the 7 most important soft skills employers should look for?

Depending on the role, you should assess applicants for hard and soft skills during the recruitment process. You may also want to help existing employees develop soft skills in the areas they need to.

We recommend the following 7 soft skills as being crucial in the workplace. But this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Communication skills

Being able to communicate well is a critical soft skill in every industry. It is essential to be able to interact effectively with co-workers and customers. It is important to have strong oral and written communication skills since most communication happens via emails, chats, and video conferencing software. Clarity, confidence, empathy, tact, active listening are some traits of good communicators.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) can be described as the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions and those of others. According to Daniel Goleman, science journalist and author of the book Emotional Intelligence, it encompasses four areas.

  • Self awareness (being in touch with your emotions)
  • Self management (managing distressing emotions so they don't affect your functionality)
  • Motivation (being able to stay positive in the face of challenges)
  • Empathy (knowing what others are feeling)
  • The social skills to use all these traits for productive communication and relationship building

In the workplace, people with high EQ make for natural leaders. They are collaborative, empathetic, good at conflict resolution and at building positive work relationships. 

Being a team player

The skill to work within a team and collaborate with co-workers is an essential one. Being a team player means you are open to new ideas and feedback, you can respect and value different perspectives, and are comfortable working within a group.

Growth mindset

This is a key factor determining an employee's longevity in a job and their success in a career. Employees with a growth mindset are self motivated and proactive. They know the importance of updating their skills to meet new challenges and are introspective enough to work on their weaknesses.   

Time management

This becomes a valuable soft skill especially at present when most employees are working from home. Good time management skills help workers plan and manage their daily schedules and meet deadlines. Employees who can manage their time well are more efficient and productive.

Creativity

This means having the insight, imagination, and flexibility to come up with solutions to the problems you may face while doing your job. Creative thinkers are also more likely to innovate and improve processes and systems within the company. 

Leadership

Employees with leadership skills possess all other soft skills and use them to effectively manage people. Not only do they excel in a group setting, but they are also able to guide other team members to realize their full potential. They are decisive and flexible and make for excellent managers.

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