Employers Seeking Soft Skills in 2020

24 Mar, 2020 Chriss Swaney


Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) - It may be the age of technology and robots, but employers in 2020 are seeking workers with a cache of soft skills like problem-solving and communication. “The future workplace demands that workers are comfortable with collaborating, communicating and drawing on emotional intelligence to accomplish tasks,’’ said Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute.  

Metcalf also points out that employees need to own their personal resilience. “They can build resilience by ensuring they are taking care of physical health, engaging in mindfulness practice that allows them to observe and manage their thinking, and building healthy connections inside and outside of work,’’ she said.

Good communication skills and the ability to exercise empathy in the workplace are key to productive work environments, according to Metcalf.

A recent Workplace Learning Trends study found that human traits like collaboration and storytelling also help companies improve their bottom line.

And according to learning data on Udemy for business, training in communication and problem-solving can deliver a 12 percent boost in productivity and retention.

Even Google’s Project Oxygen research found that its most innovative, productive teams and managers were defined by high scores in soft skills.

“Soft skills give the critical thinker the tools to act with grace,’’ said Metcalf.  She said so-called “soft skills,’’ such as comprehensive listening, holding meaningful dialogues and having difficult conversations, can be learned but are often not taught.

“Empathy is arguably the most important soft skill anyone needs when entering the workforce,’’ said Metcalf.  “Without empathy, you won’t understand where someone is coming from. Empathy helps us read people and situations, adapt accordingly, build trust and connect more effectively,’’ said Metcalf.

Because business is getting more complicated, it requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus.  The term soft skills was coined by the U.S. Army in 1972. 

Industry analysts report that soft skills usually refers to a wide range of abilities, including people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, and emotional  intelligence quotients which ultimately form the basis of personality and how employees are perceived by others.

And finally, the World Economic Forum ranks creativity as the third most important soft skill for 2020 – a substantial jump from tenth place, where it was ranked a few years ago.  The forum reported that creativity is a powerful weapon for driving new ideas and competitive advantages. And one in four employees say they are not meeting their creativity goals, according to recent job surveys

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    About The Author

    • Chriss Swaney

      Chriss Swaney is a freelance reporter who has written for Antique Trader Magazine, Reuters, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, the Burlington Free Press, UPI, The Tribune-Review and the Daily Record.

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