Skip to main content

It’s not hard to see that soft skills are key!

It’s 2024 and as the digital age made way for the information age which now makes way for Big Data’s age, leaders of all organizations are both mindful and anxious of the irreversible impact on the nature of what it means to, well… WORK.


The pandemic forever altered the workplace and it’s become clear the pivot to remote and hybrid work models will persist. Sadly gone are the days of Dolly Parton’s nine-to-five and they are likely never to return. Communication tools like Slack, Teams, and WhatsApp make it possible to be anywhere and yet still at work. New collaboration platforms such as Trello, Monday, Canva – and let us not forget the real ‘OG’ of remote work, G-Suite – provide employees an office virtually everywhere while allowing collaborators to be anywhere. A result of these changes: being at work has become indistinguishable from not being at work.



The abrupt nature and undeniable impact of this evolution to the workplace paradigm, whereby the work now comes to you instead of you going to it, demands organizations urgently reevaluate the critical skill ‘must-haves’ of new hires and leaders. The exponentially increasing reliance on automation, data-driven decision making and AI in all workplaces, point to one inescapable truth: the decreasing value of hard skills and the increasing importance of soft skills.



Hard skills, those acquired through years of formal education and professional development, are increasingly delegated to information platforms and AI resources. Tasks in accounting, auditing, HR, IT compliance, marketing, copywriting, even legal contract authorship are now heavily or even entirely executed by emerging and new technologies. And though hard skills remain important, they no longer differentiate an excellent hire from a mediocre one or worse still – a misfire.



Employers have taken note of this development, a recent report by Zip Recruiter revealed as many as 60% of employers no longer require a bachelor’s degree for new openings, a trend up by more than 25% just in the last two years. With employers increasingly implementing new technology to deliver results and achieve scale, while at the same time less reliant on old methods to screen and assess new hires, where do they turn to ensure the right people join their teams and become their leaders?


Ladies and Gentlemen, for your consideration:

Soft Skills.


Previously underappreciated and oversimplified as merely EQ, soft skills are critical traits and abilities which ensure teams excel irrespective of if they are working in-person together, at the same time together or even speaking the same language together. These skills however are not easily defined, measured or verified – commonplace characteristics of hard skills.



Once returned from the pandemic pause in late 2020, employers began to emphasize recruiting and developing employees with a mastery of these skills. And so, it begs, what precisely are ‘soft skills’?



The following list while not conclusive represents the seven soft skills widely recognized by experts as most essential:




This is the ability to convey information effectively and efficiently. In a diverse and dispersed team, clear and concise communication is crucial for ensuring everyone is on the same page.





This involves the ability to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal. A team that works well together can achieve more than the sum of its parts.





This is the ability to identify, analyze and find solutions to problems. In the fast-paced business world, the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively is invaluable.





This involves the ability to adjust to new conditions and changes in the environment. In an ever-changing world, adaptability is key to staying relevant and competitive.





This is the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate an issue to form a judgment. Critical thinking allows for better decision-making and problem-solving.





This involves the ability to guide, inspire and influence others. Good leaders can drive their teams to achieve their best work.





This is the ability to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to one’s job and accountability to one’s team. A strong work ethic can lead to high productivity and unmatched work quality.




Attracting new hires already adept at deploying these soft skills is not only a wise approach to accessing top talent in the market, it’s also the single best approach to ‘future proof’ an organization against volatile market disruption brought about through tech advances. As employers face their futures with confidence, it’s imperative they embrace the idea that soft skills will soon overshadow hard skills in driving the success of not only individuals within a team but also the organizations in which those teams reside.



In acknowledging the post-pandemic work paradigm, employers now appreciate the need for different skills in their workforce, particularly skills such as interpersonal effectiveness and emotional resilience. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the proportion of companies seeking employees awash in empathy and expert at interpersonal effectiveness doubled in 2020 alone. This shift is not a temporary reaction to the pandemic, rather it’s a long-term trend that will continue well into the future.



In this age of automation, algorithms and AI, soft skills are the new ‘must-haves’ of the workforce. But they can be a challenge to master especially when more and more work is accomplished remotely. Without daily, in-person interactions with colleagues, appreciating the nuances of everyone’s communication and collaboration preferences is just plain hard. This makes identifying, attracting and retaining employees already adept in these areas a key discipline for an organization’s recruiting efforts. And while educational qualifications and prior experience might remain the first threshold to cross in some companies, a recent panel of experts on emerging employment trends hosted by Deloitte, estimates two-thirds of all jobs by 2030 – not really the future folks – will be soft skill intensive occupations.



A clear shift towards remote and hybrid work models emerged from the pandemic and rendered obsolete much of the traditional workplace. As employers look to the future, soft skills are more likely to be the key success drivers of high performing individuals and winning organizations alike. The ability to communicate effectively, be accountable to a team, solve problems, adapt to new situations, think critically, lead others and maintain a strong work ethic are the connective tissue securing a company’s success in an otherwise disconnected work environment. When employers prioritize the hiring and development of a workforce already adept in soft skills, they can tackle the challenges of today and seize the opportunities of tomorrow.



It’s not hard to see that soft skills are key!



Share It