In today's rapidly evolving work landscape, the skills that were once considered indispensable are now being overshadowed by the rise of human skills. As we embrace the technological advancements and automation shaping our workplaces, it becomes evident that the future of work lies in the development and utilisation of human skills. These skills, also known as soft skills or people skills, are becoming increasingly valuable in navigating the complexities and challenges of the modern workplace. In this article, we will explore why human skills are the new hard skills and why leaders should prioritise their development within their organisations.
According to BCG and Emsi Burning Glass, over one third of the top 20 skills in job postings for the average job has changed since 2016.
What skills are needed for a future workplace where one billion jobs will be transformed by technology by 2030? Pearson’s Skills Outlook report on “Power Skills” analysed labour market trends in four major economies – US, UK, Australia, and Canada – and found that, while technical skills remain highly valued, the top five most sought-after skills that employers are seeking today are all human:
· Customer Service
· Attention to Detail
The Evolution of Workplace Skills
Traditionally, hard skills, such as technical expertise, proficiency in programming languages, or knowledge of specific tools, were highly sought after by employers. These skills were often seen as essential for success in specific roles or industries. However, with the advent of automation and artificial intelligence, many of these technical skills can be easily replicated or replaced by machines.
Conversely, human skills encompass a broad range of interpersonal and cognitive abilities that are unique to individuals. These skills include adaptability, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, leadership, and creativity - traits that cannot be easily automated. These skills enable individuals to connect, empathise, and interact effectively with others, making them indispensable in the future of work.
The Importance of Human Skills
Collaboration and Teamwork
In a world where cross-functional teams and collaborative projects are becoming the norm, the ability to work effectively with others is crucial. Human skills such as collaboration, active listening, and conflict resolution are vital for building cohesive teams that can navigate challenges and drive innovation.
Adaptability and Resilience
The pace of change in the digital age demands adaptability and resilience. Human skills empower individuals to navigate ambiguity, embrace new technologies, and quickly adapt to changing circumstances, enabling a thriving workforce capable of continuous growth and learning.
Communication and Storytelling
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful organisations. Human skills such as persuasive communication, storytelling, and active listening foster clarity, engagement, and alignment within teams. They also enable leaders to convey their vision, inspire employees, and drive organisational change.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
As automation takes over repetitive tasks, critical thinking and problem-solving become increasingly valuable. Human skills empower individuals to analyse complex situations, think creatively, and propose innovative solutions. These skills enable HR leaders to make strategic decisions that drive organisational success.
Developing Human Skills
To harness the potential of human skills, leaders should prioritise their development and provide opportunities for continuous learning and growth. Here are some strategies to consider:
Training and Development Programs
Offer training programs, workshops, and coaching sessions that focus on enhancing human skills among employees. This can include leadership development, emotional intelligence training, effective communication workshops, and problem-solving simulations.
Foster a Learning Culture
Create a culture that values continuous learning and encourages employees to develop their human skills. Promote self-directed learning, provide access to learning resources, and establish mentorship programs to foster skill development.
Recruit with Human Skills in Mind
When hiring, place emphasis on assessing candidates' human skills alongside their technical qualifications. Look for individuals with traits like adaptability, emotional intelligence, and teamwork, as they are more likely to thrive in an evolving work environment.
Provide Feedback and Recognition
Regular feedback and recognition can motivate employees to enhance their human skills and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Recognise and reward individuals who exemplify strong human skills and create an environment that encourages continuous improvement.
As the future of work continues to evolve, leaders must recognise the incredible value of human skills. These skills are the driving force behind effective collaboration, innovation, and organisational success. By investing in the development of human skills, leaders can create a workforce that is adaptable, resilient, and capable of thriving in the face of technological advancements.
Embracing human skills as the new hard skills is a vital step toward building a future-ready workforce.
The Role of Soft Skills in Workforce Development: https://workforce.georgia.gov/training-academy/the-role-of-soft-skills-in-workforce-development/