Why Are Soft Skills Important & Necessary in the Workplace

HR Management
Rea Regan October 13, 2021 8 min read

See why soft skills are just as important as hard skills, and what to look out for in a candidate’s resume

Candidate at an interview writing down hard and soft skills

Quick Guide

    For a long time, employers only worried about a person’s hard skills, meaning the items on their resume that they could quantify. 

    • How many years of experience do they have in a position? 
    • How have they shown mastery of a task? 
    • Do they have a degree or certificate? 
    • Are they proficient in a foreign language? 

    But times are changing, and more employers are starting to come around to the idea that soft skills can be equally important, perhaps even more important than hard skills.

    So, What Are Soft Skills? 

    Well, soft skills are attributes that may not jump out on a resume because they’re hard to measure and quantify. They have an impact on how an employee works and interacts with others. 

    This can include a person’s work ethic, leadership skills, or communication skills.

    It’s hard to prove that you have these on a resume, but it’s clear when someone has soft skills in the workplace. 

    Let’s take a closer look at the growing influence of soft skills and why soft skills are important in the modern workplace.

    Team Effort

    A lot of modern workplaces are based more on creativity than paper-pushing and crunching numbers. That creativity often leads to collaboration, which means that teamwork is essential. That means modern employees need to fit well in a group dynamic and work well with others. This requires good communication and interpersonal skills, which aren’t always going to show up in a person’s work history unless you ask them about their day-to-day duties at previous jobs. 

    In the workplace, the best teams aren’t always the most talented teams. Often, they are the teams that work well together. If you assemble a team of the most talented people you can find, but those employees don’t want to work together, there is bound to be conflict that gets in the way of progress. Instead, employees who have the soft skills that allow them to work well in a team setting will be in a position to create and collaborate with their co-workers.

    Leadership

    It’s almost impossible for a company to have too many leaders among its employees. 

    Even if a person isn’t going to be put into a leadership position right away, it’s always ideal for companies to think about what employees could be leaders in the future. Not only is it best to promote internal employees to leadership positions to save time and money on job searches, but people with leadership skills are more likely to excel in lower-level positions because they’ll have the motivation to strive for something more.

    Two colleagues discussing soft skills in the workplace

    Obviously, leadership is one of those soft skills in the workplace that you won’t see on paper, but you know a person has it when you watch them in action. 

    These types of employees have the skills to get people onboard behind them and adapt to changing situations. Soft skills like communication and flexibility can often translate to leadership inside the workplace.

    They Indicate Longevity

    It’s unusual to find a company that doesn’t want to hire people for the long haul. 

    Recruitment and onboarding are two of the most expensive and overlooked costs in any industry, so it’s always best to hire people who want to stay at the company long-term. 

    More importantly, those employees need to be strong and productive workers at the company for a long time.

    Certain soft skills can indicate if a person is interested in finding a job that they can stay at for a long time. For example, a person with a strong work ethic could have the ambition to rise through the ranks at a company. 

    An employer can also tell a lot about a person’s potential longevity by looking at what motivates them and the attitude they have when it comes to their work.

    Don’t be afraid to ask behavioral questions during the interview to gauge a candidate’s soft skills.And review these key qualities of top candidates to recognize what are soft skills to look for.

    Organization

    No matter the industry, few things kill productivity faster than not being organized. Talent, experience, and a resume full of hard skills can only go so far if a person isn’t able to stay focused and organized. An employee like this will only end up wasting time, effort, and money, even if they are one of the most skilled employees at a company.

    On the other hand, employees with the soft skills to remain organized and finish jobs on time can be a lot more productive in the long run. Workers like this are inherently more reliable and consistent than those with poor organizational skills. How a person collects their thoughts when they communicate, especially when answering a difficult question or facing a difficult challenge, can show that they are organized and are able to make sure projects stay on track and get completed on time.

    They Show Initiative

    Showing initiative is another one of the soft skills in the workplace that employers are always looking to find. It’s difficult to find a job or an industry in which it’s beneficial to sit back and wait to be told what to do. 

    Instead, most employers would probably agree that they prefer when employees are proactive and show that they want to go above and beyond the base level expectations for their position. This is why employers tend to promote those who show initiative.

    People with a healthy collection of soft skills tend to be more ambitious and more likely to show initiative. 

    • They will have a positive attitude and will be eager when it comes to solving problems. 
    • People who take the initiative are also more likely to be creative and have leadership skills, which also helps them go above and beyond.

    Better Customer Service

    While this doesn’t apply in every industry or every job, it never hurts to hire employees who are good with people, and therefore, can help improve customer service at the company. 

    Most companies will prefer someone who is willing and eager to help a customer, even if the answer to the problem isn’t obvious. Anybody can pass the buck to the next person, but it’s a different type of employee who actually wants to help customers.

    There are a variety of soft skills that not only make a person capable of providing quality service but also make them willing to provide that service. A lot of times, the willingness to help a customer makes all of the difference in the world. Employers will want to look for employees with good communication skills and a great attitude because these soft skills will translate to customer service. Employees who show those soft skills in the workplace also help set a good example for others and put a positive face on the company.

    Improve Productivity

    At the end of the day, all companies are looking for any way they can to improve productivity. The assumption is that the most talented workers will get the most done and always provide quality work. But there are also plenty of overlooked soft skills that can lead to more productivity, regardless of the industry.

    As mentioned, the ability to collaborate and work in a team can have a big impact on productivity. There’s also a lot to be said about a person’s attitude and willingness to go the extra mile. Sometimes the employees who are willing to put forth a little extra effort can move the needle when it comes to the bottom line. 

    Plus, it’s important not to overlook the impact that soft skills like communication, flexibility, and leadership can have on overall productivity. 

    Soft Skills are the Future

    The bottom line is that soft skills are the future. 

    Advancements in technology like artificial intelligence and automation will slowly make hard skills less necessary. Instead, employees who exhibit soft skills in the workplace will become the difference between a business failing or succeeding. 

    Ultimately, it will be employees who bring leadership, creativity, and teamwork to the table who are going to make companies more productive and efficient, making soft skills in the workplace worth their weight in gold.

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