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Soft Skills: Hard to Measure, Crucial to Success

Soft Skills: Hard to Measure, Crucial to Success

If you check the research and discussion about workforce preparedness and the skills businesses need most, you’ll see a lot of discussion on “soft skills.” What are these skills, why are they so crucial to workplace success, and why are they so difficult to ensure during the hiring process?

What are Soft Skills?

“Soft skills” are a set of complex abilities that are multi-faceted. They help with functioning across different disciplines and specific tasks.

A long period of time in dynamic learning environments fosters soft skills. However, textbooks, online modules, and multiple-choice tests do not drill the concepts into learners. A variety of experiences form soft skills rather than a single impression in a specific learning environment. Here are some of the top soft skills workplaces seek:

Communication Skills

Without communication skills, there is little accomplishment. The most competent employees are less valuable to the workplace if they aren’t able to share their ideas with others. People build communication skills over an entire lifetime and begin in infancy. Lifelong practice in a variety of settings is the best way to ensure these skills. Today’s communication skills are even more demanding. We ask employees to communicate effectively in writing, in person, and on the phone. In addition, we ask that they recognize when to be formal, when to be informal, and how to be sensitive to cultural differences in our global economy. Writing skills, presentation skills, public speaking, and negotiations demonstrate communication abilities. Successful communication is necessary for virtually every employee.

Critical Thinking

Due to the fast-paced nature of today’s technological advancements, employees must take on more critical thinking skills. Automation frequently occurs in tasks that are repetitive and routine. As a result, it is increasingly important that people be able to think critically and solve problems. Critical thinkers are able to research, think logically, and seek out new information. They demonstrate creativity and flexible thinking, making them invaluable when problems arise.

Leadership

Successful leaders are those who can work well in a group and inspire others to meet their full potential. They are often charismatic, fair, able to handle conflicts well, self-confident, and inspiring. Their skills can be the glue that holds together a well-functioning team. However, the lack of these skills can make even the most talented pool of employees fail to meet expectations because they can’t get on the same page.

Positive Attitude

Workplace morale impacts productivity and employee turnover. It is crucial to find employees who will bring a positive attitude to their work. Furthermore, people who are able to be friendly and engaging are a crucial part of a successful team. Those who are resilient can help the team weather storms and bounce back from setbacks.

Work Ethic

Employees with a strong work ethic are self-directed and able to run a project and come up with unexpected results. They are dependable and allow employers to trust that their team will run smoothly, allowing them to redirect resources from micromanagement to more important matters.

Why Do Soft Skills Matter?

If you show the above list to just about any employer, they’re going to recognize the necessity of these skills. While these might not be the skills that are easily demonstrated by credentials and educational attainment, they are universally necessary and increasingly hard to find.

Without soft skills, businesses can find themselves stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to manage team dynamics. Undependable employees, no matter how skilled they are, will not get the job done. If people are not showing up for work reliably, don’t meet deadlines, and are unable to get along with colleagues, those negative impacts will have a ripple effect throughout the entire company.

A soft skill deficit is directly linked to high turnover. Employee conflict and an environment that doesn’t allow team members to feel valued and like they contribute to the overall goals will soon result in unrest. As employees flee for other opportunities, the cycle continues when the replacements also lack the soft skills to address the problems.

Why Are Soft Skills So Rare?

Why is it so difficult to find employees with adequate soft skills? Well, there isn’t a credentialing system for soft skills. There is no college degree that guarantees you are getting someone who can communicate well, think critically, and work well with others. A specific curriculum does not teach these skills. Diverse experiences build genuine character.

Some teachers blame the high-stakes testing culture on the current dearth of soft skills in the emerging workforce. With so much emphasis on standardized testing and finding the “right” answer, students do not think outside the box. They don’t experiment and work together to solve novel problems. These are all experiences that would help build soft skills.

It doesn’t help that soft skills are also difficult to measure. Think about the ways that most companies weed through applicants to find finalists for a position. They rely on credentials and educational attainment, previous experience, and measurable data. It makes sense to take this information into account, but none of it guarantees employees who have the soft skills necessary to make them successful in the workplace.

What’s the Solution?

This is why we created Buzzuzz. We want to help companies make data-driven HR decisions since employee interactions and the culture that’s created through them is crucial to success. You are only as strong as the workplace culture of your business. Employees who do not have the drive to solve problems, take on challenges, and work well together will ultimately come with high costs.

Buzzuzz aims to take the mystery out of soft skills by giving employers responsive tools to track, manage, and encourage the behaviors and learning that lead to great employees. Using Buzzuzz helps companies ensure that they hire great people from the start and continue to build on the skills needed to run a successful business in the future.