Last updated: 14.08.20

Soft skills: Are these the overlooked skills in the workplace?

Soft skills: Are these the overlooked skills in the workplace?

As organisations, when it comes to the hiring process, we usually have a checklist of things we require our employees to have, a mix of an educational background, previous experience in a similar role and certificates or accreditation's. These attributes once matched, are what make a candidate eligible but how can we further ensure their success within our organisations? 

There are certain traits such as the ability to deal with stressful situations, emotional intelligence, resilience, and possessing a growth mindset which can contribute to the success of an individual both in their professional and personal lives. These skills are referred to as ‘soft skills’ and are often overlooked in the workplace.

What is a soft skill?

A soft skill is a learned non-technical skill that relates to how you work. It is a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills and personality traits.

Why are they overlooked?

Soft skills are often overlooked in the workplace as they are not considered necessarily important when compared to hard skills. Hard skills are the technical credentials employees have which make them a suitable candidate for a job. Organisations can quantify hard skills as an individual either has them or doesn’t, whereas a soft skill is typically un-quantifiable.

What are the benefits of soft skills in the workplace? 

Soft skills are what make a person adaptable, flexible and determine how they deal with situations and people. All of which are qualities that can either help you succeed or fail in a job role.

Soft skills benefit organisations significantly as they are the foundation upon which relationships are made, negotiations are handled and work is carried out confidently. They can help boost morale and keep employees motivated to succeed within their roles. They also contribute towards a higher performance level and make for better team players.

As an example if you consider a law firm which is recruiting for a lawyer, they will need the candidate to have a degree or formal qualifications. As a high pressure, long hours environment they would also need to consider whether that employee can deal with stress, a large workload and tight deadlines. These are the skills which would determine whether the candidate is actually successful. 

Skills such as emotional intelligence contribute towards the way an individual deals with situations, how they react and how they communicate. How does a sales manager deal with a difficult client? How do two colleagues who don’t get on well collaborate on a project? Resilience in the workplace can be attributed to an employees' ability to manage anything from a tough workload to frustrating colleagues. 

How to undo the overlooking

As employers, we need to start looking beyond the basic checklist we set with our HR departments and broaden our criteria to include soft skills as part of the mix. These skills combined with the traditional requirements we set for candidates will lead to an adaptable, well rounded and stronger workforce. 

Investing in quality training to help current employees develop soft skills is a great way to start. Choose a few soft skills you think are a must within your organisation and implement a learning development plan to help achieve them.

If you would like further information on how to gain valuable soft skills for you or your organisation see our 10 course training package and full skills course offering here.

Our Personal and Professional Development package includes 15 engaging, bite-sized modules full of tips, hints and resources to help you succeed.