Soft Skills: Why they are more valuable than ever in today’s digital world

In a world that becomes increasingly digital with each passing day, soft skills can seem a little redundant. Many believe that the automation of tasks, through the use of computers and robots, is diminishing the need for skills like communication, empathy, and collaboration within the workplace. But believe it or not, softs skills such as these are more in demand than ever before.

A recent study has found that 62% of employers consider soft skills to be extremely valuable to their organisations and research by Deloitte has revealed that two-thirds of all jobs will rely on soft skills by 2030. So what has caused this sudden need for candidates with strong social and emotional intelligence?

Technology needs a human factor

Unsurprisingly, the workplace of the future is predicted to be even more technological with a strong dependence on artificial intelligence and automated processes. In fact, tasks that require hard, technical skills are already declining, as a result of the introduction of AI, machine learning and big data in the workplace. But while this technology can bring accuracy, convenience and hard facts to a business, it can’t do everything.

A computer or a robot can’t react to sudden changes, react to emotions or understand vocal and facial cues in the same way that a human can. It cannot organise a team, host a meeting, build relationships with clients or share ideas with its colleagues. Whereas someone who possess communication and interpersonal skills can. By relying too much on technology alone, organisations are at risk of losing this human factor and the compassion and empathy that comes with it. This can have a negative impact on the company as a whole and prevent it’s continued development and growth.

As the use of technology in the workplace increases, the proportion of soft skills within an organisation must increase too in order to handle the interpersonal tasks that the computers or programmes cannot do. This is why organisations are so eager to find candidates with soft skills; they are preparing themselves for the workplace of the future.

But that isn’t the only reason why organisations need soft skills in today’s digital world.

A great USP for organisations

Thanks again to technological advances, clients and customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing who they want to do business with.  More businesses than ever are moving from physical sites to online platforms and a quick search online can provide customers with an unlimited number of businesses that offer the service or product and competitive prices they desire. It's a dog eat dog world out there and in order to stand out amongst thousands of online competitors, business owners will do anything to give themselves a competitive edge.

One way of achieving this is by offering a fantastic level of customers service, provided by people with excellent communication, organisation, and problem-solving skills. Customers and clients alike want a personalised service and are more likely to work or do business with organisations that make them feel unique, even if they aren't giving them the cheapest rates or products. Without the use of soft skills, businesses would be less able to stand out and more likely to get pushed to the back.

They make hard skills more effective

While jobs with technical skills may be declining they are still necessary for most roles, particularly ones that help to repair and maintain the new technology that organisations are now using each day. However, these hard skills will never be completely effective without some soft skills to complement them. For instance, a salesperson with a fantastic knowledge of their market and their products won’t be as successful as they could be, if they don’t have speaking, problem-solving and listening skills needed to retain clients and close deals.

This is why organisations are on the lookout for candidates that strike a good balance between the two. These candidates are more likely to give them the best possible results, while also being better team players and leaders. Plus having employees that can be sociable yet professional with both their customers and their colleagues, helps to create a positive working environment with better success rates, than if they hire employees who are just purely technically minded.

Difficult to find

Even though soft skills may be in demand in our ever increasing digital world, research has found that 89% of organisations struggle to find the soft skills they require from prospective candidates. Soft skills are notoriously challenging to develop because that aren’t linked to knowledge or expertise like hard skills. They are connected to a person’s character and personality, rather than their know-how.

If you think your soft skills could benefit from some development, there are a few things you can do. You can enrol on some online courses that cater to personal development or network with people that are inside and outside of your organisation to enhance your communication skills. Another option is to take on more responsibilities in your current role to challenge yourself and get exposure to new teams and tasks. Alternatively, if you’re applying for a specific job role, talk to a recruitment consultant to find out what soft skills that organisation is looking for and use that to influence your development plan.

So next time you think about dismissing the soft skills you possess, think again. Your soft skills will be the differentiator that sets you apart from other candidates who may have a similar work history or expertise to you. You never know, they could be the very thing that bags you your dream job.

A profile picture for Cormac Doyle

Cormac Doyle

24th August

Industry Insight