With so much focus on hard skills such as computer technology, search engine optimization, and data analysis, it’s easy to forget that soft skills have an important place in the workforce as well. Technical skills are important to have but it’s tough to get very far if your employees lack soft skills like good communication techniques, the ability to work as a team, and flexibility. Simply put, there are certain skills that can’t be taught in any classroom so it’s important to keep soft skills in mind when you make your next hire.
Why Soft Skills Matter
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when looking for a new employee as you try to check off the laundry list of requirements needed for the position. Many potential employees only list hard skills on their resume so it can be easy to be discouraged if you’re having trouble determining if they’d be a good fit. While there are many hard skills that are non-negotiable for certain jobs, don’t overlook the value that soft skills bring to the table. In fact, there are plenty of soft skills that help set your employees up for success.
Soft skills like creativity, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills go a long way in the workforce so it’s important as an employer not to discount them. These are skills or behaviors that are learned and can be applied in a variety of situations. Relationships are important in any industry and without soft skills, they can be hard to maintain. For example, your doctor might be great at diagnosing your ailments, but if they have a terrible bedside manner or are hard to communicate with, are you likely to continue seeing him or her? Probably not.
Soft skills not only help your employees gain new customers, but they’re essential in helping retain them as well. Without the ability to problem solve, work together as a team or simply communicate your plans or goals for the business, customers will quickly walk away. These abilities create long-lasting relationships and improve almost all aspects of customer service within an organization.
Plus, looking at things through an employee’s lens, these soft skills like communication and flexibility are also going to help with promotions within the company. Obviously, hard skills like knowing the specifics of a particular industry or having a degree in a certain field are important, but as an employer, it’s important to take notice of soft skills. These are often the skills that make one employee shine brighter than another. If you’re looking to promote some of your employees, turn their attention, and yours, into fine-tuning some of their soft skills to really make them stand out. Continuing Professional Development is important to employee engagement and retention. Retaining employees is less expensive than hiring new ones, and continuing training, especially in soft skills, is an important means of retention.
Communication Might Be the Top Soft Skill
With the use of social media for advertising, it’s opened up a line of communication between customers and clients like never before. As organizations compete for work, conversational skills are crucial. This allows potential clients to relate to the organization and makes the company feel more approachable. It’s almost impossible to read tone in text and poor conversational skills can make written messages even more difficult to interpret. Whether clients are disappointed or happy with their purchase, they often turn to social media to voice their praise or concerns. This is just one example of where soft skills can have a big impact on your business.
In other areas, creative skills like artistic design skills come into play. While some of us are great at planning and executing the strategic side of a plan, it’s those with creative skills who can really make the plan or process come to life. Great design skills and creative content building contribute to a highly effective website. Well-performing websites are key to success in today’s SEO-driven markets. It shouldn’t come as a shock to employers or potential employees that soft skills are quickly earning their spot right beside the hard skills we’ve focused on for so long.
These skills are just as important for supervisors, managers, and CEOs. In recent years, employers have discovered that pay is not the most valued priority on employees’ lists. Instead, employees are focusing more on things like flexibility (like being able to work from home), job security, and capable leadership. As a manager or supervisor, the way you communicate with your employees is crucial to the overall morale of your team and colleagues. When morale is down, productivity soon follows. This is why having the ability to discuss things with your team in a way that makes them feel valued is so important.
Knowing the technical side of any industry is sometimes enough to get an employee’s foot in the door of your organization, but it’s the soft skills that really allow employees to excel. Things like empathy, creativity, and negotiation skills are just as crucial to so many of the hard skills valued today. As we continue on a path where communication via the internet and social media is becoming more and more critical to businesses, let’s start to put a little more focus on the value of skills that can’t be learned in a classroom.