5 Reasons Why Soft Skills take lead in Remote Work Environment?

A famous saying by Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle reads: “We recruit for attitude and train for skill”, but on the contrary, in the real life situation, the corporate organisations, for some reason, consider qualifications and relevant job experiences as the ‘competence’. but to be honest, this very competence is overrated. It’s overrated because with the rise of “the tech stack” and disruption, business models keep changing (the buzzword is “pivot”) a lot. So, you end up hiring someone with as many as hard skills that you wanted, but two years down the road, those skills are completely outdated because the base model is pivoted.

In this article, we will make an attempt to discuss as in the given recent global events, particularly the pandemic, are soft skills more important than ever? And why Soft skills often take a backseat in the assessment centers and mass recruitment activities? What if your candidate has all the right hard skills but none of the inclusive, diversifying traits that would ensure they’re a perfect fit?

As a recruiter or hiring manager, onboarding the right candidate for the right job or the right company takes focus and dedication. During my work experience, I have seen that massive hiring practices usually ignore the cultural fit and the soft skills part and end up resolving employee disputes thereafter. There’s a rare balance that needs to be maintained.

Most companies have specific requirements, hard skills without which the candidate supposedly cannot perform well. Soft skills, on the other hand, are less about the role, and more about the social dynamics of the team. But we must admit that these skills are often found in exceptional candidates who have the potential to set the pace for the rest of the team and grow with the right mindset and energy.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are any skill or attribute that can be classified as a personality trait or habit. Interpersonal skills and communication skills are more specific examples of soft skills that many employers look for in candidates. Soft skills are defined in different ways, but they’re always along the same lines. Any dynamic workplace needs a social aspect, and that’s where these traits come in handy. The figure given here illustrates as many as soft skills a candidate may possess that are required for a vibrant and dynamic business organisation and there are too many soft skills that candidates may love to mention on their résumé. When a few hiring managers were asked the comment on the most important attributes of top performers at their respective organisations and thy listed these top five attributes:

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Effective communication skills
  3. Self-direction
  4. Drive
  5. Adaptability/Flexibility

Hire for Attitude

  1. The biggest flaw that is evidently noticed in the hiring process — and believe you me, there are quite a few — is the ‘Attitude’ — the soft skills part. The hiring team must carefully review the résumés for shortlisting and the hiring manager must also spare some decent amount of time to see the same beforehand that would say a lot about the candidate. The way it is written can convey emphasis on communication, collaboration, or general flair for creativity.
  2. When you hire managers off competence, oftentimes you have a “brilliant jerk” issue. It’s a male or a female candidate who’s very competent in a specific skill set, but he / she doesn’t possess soft skills. They barely listen. No idea how to criticize or take feedback. Not an iota of respect. This is actually somewhat normative in employee-manager relationships now, which is why engagement statistics are slipping.
  3. Alternatively, there are many questions that can be asked during the interview phase to determine whether the candidate possesses the soft skills you’re looking for. Asking for examples of crisis situations that they’ve solved portrays critical thinking and dependability. Asking about examples of conflict resolution in the workplace can display empathy and leadership. Their proudest professional moment and most difficult or undefined task can indicate communication, creativity, and adaptability. The candidate’s answers demonstrate just what type of employee they will be post-placement.

Its NOW

With the COVID-19 pandemic where a large number of companies have taken their operations to the virtual world, allowing their employees to work remotely to ensure their safety and that of their colleagues. However, employees that possess soft skills are proving their worth by way of using their soft skills in the team into a momentum that surpasses that of an active workplace. Thus, an increasing importance is being placed on soft skills — personal attributes that enable you to interact well with other people. Here are the reasons why soft skills are more important than ever:

1. Hard Skills don’t mean anything without Soft Skills

In most jobs, technical or hard skills alone are not enough to be truly effective. A salesperson with an unrivalled knowledge of their product and market will have little success if they don’t have the interpersonal skills needed to close deals and retain clients. A business manager needs to be able to listen to employees, have good communication skills, and be able to think creatively. All careers require at least some soft skills to make the hard skills work.

2. Soft Skills are hard to learn

Hard skills aren’t necessarily hard to acquire. They can be easily taught, and can be learned and mastered over time. Soft skills are more challenging to develop, since they have little to do with work knowledge or expertise, but are closely linked with a person’s character. It takes conscious effort, ongoing practice, and a commitment to self-development to improve soft skills. Hard skills may look impressive on your CV and during the interview, but the soft skills are what will set you apart from the many candidates who have similar expertise to you.

3. The Dynamic Workplace in Interpersonal

Skills such as listening, collaborating with others, presenting ideas and conversing with team members are all highly valued in a dynamic workplace. Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment, all vital attributes for organisations in an increasingly competitive business world or otherwise.

4. Customers understand Soft Skills only

Today’s market offers consumers an unlimited number of choices through technologies i.e. social media etc. For these consumers, convenience and low prices are easy to come by, so customer service is often what influences the choice to use a particular business. The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with customers is therefore a vital factor in an organisation’s success.

5. The Future is Soft Skills

It is not far that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is going to result in a greater proportion of jobs relying on soft skills. Tasks that require hard skills are continuing to decline, making soft skills key differentiators in the workplace. As an example, look at this fascinating study by Deloitte Access Economics, which predicts that two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will rely on soft skills by 2030. This trend will inevitably be mirrored globally.

Final Word

In nutshell, recognising the need and significance of soft skills in your personal and professional development is the first step towards sustained career growth. Though hard skills allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a particular, measurable ability, soft skills often indicate your ability to work with others and grow within an organisation. Soft skills help you build relationships and solve problems in order to use your hard skills to their full extent.

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Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.

C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant