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Evolution in Soft skills Development is Imminent in Today’s Hybrid Work Paradigm

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Talent Managers and recruiters have been continuing to report a ‘soft skills gap’ that coerces organizations to recruit candidates who fall short on interpersonal skills. Today’s workplace dynamic demands critical thinking and problem-solving, effective communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation as a toolkit of the highest-ranked skills that are being articulated as critical drivers of employee advancement and organizational growth. These competencies are bottom-line recommendations for bridging gaps through intensive coaching, training, and development. 

In addition, the soft skills gaps have helped refuel what we know as ‘The Great Reshuffle’ – the mass exodus of employees affecting the global workforce that questions the very purpose of work itself. Organizations have been scrambling to derive purpose from what they do, but more as an add-on to the drivers of growth. In contrast, winning organizations have made purpose central to their strategies that are largely implemented to level the playing field and reshape value propositions. 

A Critical Skills Survey by the American Management Association (AMA) divulged the most critical workforce skills that are paramount for employee development. Excerpts from this survey indicate that an overwhelming number of respondents believe that these 21st-century skills are significant to organizational development and will become even more important in the future. Edward T. Reilly, AMA President and CEO further went on to corroborate the survey findings and said that there is a pressing need for a mind shift in the current workforce. And that the onus of bridging the skills gaps to meet the evolving global market dynamics lies with business leaders and decision-makers.

Essentially, with the remote and hybrid work models here to stay, cultivating a culture of employee well-being and engagement requires a boost to soft skills – and is vital for effective communication, problem-solving, and increased collaboration for desirable business outcomes. From a technology and thinking standpoint, the one takeaway is that the current workforce that was trained to operate in a pre-pandemic environment will need a compilation of new capabilities to thrive in the changing world. You may want to ask integral questions about the customer experience your organization wants to provide, how learners come to understand and practice the new organizational cultural values, and the skills learners would need to realize the future organizational vision. Typically, the answers to these questions lie in developing skills with a multichannel approach, where learners interact socially and proactively practice new behaviors and mindsets.

Another recent McKinsey Global Survey indicated that 87 percent of executives concurred with experiencing skill gaps in the workforce, and less than half of the respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem. Fundamentally, the obligation of reskilling and upskilling the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era lies with the leaders, backed by endorsement from employers to develop skills that will make the overall business and employees ‘future-proof’. The urgency of addressing skill gaps is paramount across industries, with most respondents agreeing that skill-building is a surefire method for bridging those gaps. Surprisingly, the results also point to a dramatic change in the most important skills to transform and develop – which are largely social and humane and embrace empathy, leadership, adaptability, and resilience.

Why have Soft skills become more relevant than ever?

Workforce futurist and author Alexandra Levit outlined soft skills as an imperative for career durability. In her book Humanity Works, she defines this as the ability to acquire the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to be an engaged and productive member of the team. “For someone to be successful 10 years down the road, they need to be resilient and be able to reinvent themselves in different learning environments”, she reiterates.

In an increasingly modern, interpersonal workplace, soft skills are innate and not explicitly mentioned, but concluding that they hold no relevance is mere oversight. A ‘hard’ skill does not mean that it is hard to learn and, likewise, a ‘soft’ skill does not mean it is not critical. Though hard skills can be taught and perfected over time with task-related know-how, soft skills are transferable, invaluable, and often learned through life experiences. 

As technology, globalization, and demographic shifts continue to reshape businesses, the importance of soft skills in the context of productive and healthy work ecosystems cannot be more emphasized. Deloitte Access Economics forecasts that soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, with the number of jobs in soft-skill intensive occupations expected to grow at 2.5 times the rate of jobs in other occupations. Inarguably, bringing in the element of humanity into work as the workforce is gradually acclimating to hybrid and remote routines is the core to fostering trust and collaboration. The answers lie in recalibrating mindsets and synthesizing areas that spawn employees’ cognitive capabilities:

  • Making connections and conversations deliberate and meaningful
  • Practicing vulnerability to enable open communication
  • Embracing mindfulness and self-awareness through positive feedback loops
  • Embedding coaching and mentorship in Learning and Development strategy for modeling the requisite skills

With the macro approach to employee skills development gradually becoming passé, organizations are now discerning the fundamental need for improving human capital. Numly was founded to help organizations rise to the challenges of skills transformation by reinventing co-learning with peer coaching. Promoting employee engagement and talent performance through human connections, peer coaching, and critical skills development is the essence of our human resource transformation goals. Our commitment to skill-building largely encompasses the following:

  • Coaching effectively and listen actively by leveraging an extensive range of backgrounds and skills to enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving
  • Amplifying engagement by investing in your employees and nurturing soft skills like communication, self-assessment, and collaboration

Whilst organizations are striving to craft talent strategy to revitalize employees’ digital and cognitive capabilities, designing a portfolio of initiatives to close skill gaps ensures that the constant business pivots demands are nearly met with. The cornerstone for success with skill transformations is often large-scale, programmatic efforts that are central to skill-building and acclimating to changing ecosystems. Developing this muscle by harnessing the collective skills and knowledge of the workforce is key for bolstering organizational resilience.

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