The Soft Skills You Need in 2020
We have all witnessed the effects coronavirus has had on our day to day lives. Not just our family and social lives, but how we work as well. From a working perspective, we have all had different experiences of the lockdown period with some on Furlough, some still having to brave it on the ‘frontline’ and those of us thrust into a world of working from the spare bedroom whilst juggling home learning and keeping children stimulated and occupied. It has not been easy – for anyone.
Whilst we have seen industry adapt and change to Coronavirus, so to have our soft skills, probably without us realising it. How we communicate whilst being remote from our teams has changed, how leaders guide their employees through challenging and unprecedented times have changed and if you, like us, are constantly looking for the ‘silver lining’ in a Covid world, maybe it is how we have adapted our emotional intelligence to make us more effective, positive and productive workers.
What Soft Skills are Important Right Now?
Soft skills or EQ is nothing new. We have had the term buzzing around for many years now, but it has always taken second place to hard skills, experience and qualifications when it comes to how sought after we are by potential employers or when being considered for career progression. But it could well be that 2020 has thrust them firmly into the spotlight when it comes to who is going to succeed. Effective leadership, adaptability and flexibility, creativity, critical thinking and communication skills are what has helped to keep businesses alive during the past six months, and these are the skills that employers will need if they are to successfully navigate what could be tough economic times ahead. A report from Deloitte Access Economics tells us that by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs will be made up of soft-skill-intensive occupations, so developing and enhancing these will be key to your success.
Adaptability and Flexibility
It is probably fair to say that we have all had to be both adaptable and flexible over the past 6 months. But it is more than just picking up your laptop at your kitchen table and getting on with your job. It has involved working under pressure, having an open mindset and adapting to new restrictions on how we do business and manage deadlines and targets. For many of us, we have had to take on additional responsibilities whilst our colleagues have been furloughed and in some cases, completely re-invent how we can manage our workload.
There are some industries, especially in the manufacturing environment that have not just adapted how they work and what they manufacture but have completely turned the tide of their business to not just support the nation during coronavirus, but to ensure the survival of their company. Formula One racing teams started making life-saving equipment for the NHS and Brew Dog turned their alcohol to good use in hand sanitising products. But this creativity has come from their teams. In the years to come, the landscape of business is going to need to evolve and adapt to steer a business through challenging times. Having the creativity to be a part of this change is an essential skill employers are going to be looking for.
According to data published by the Society for Human Resource Management, 37% of employers consider problem-solving and critical thinking among the top soft skills candidates are lacking today. Today we have to be able to navigate news and data to objectively evaluate information so we can make informed decisions. Critical thinkers ask questions that help them to dig a little deeper to gain a greater understanding of an issue.
Good communication has always been important. In the Covid landscape of work, it is now essential. There are many issues now present in the workplace that have come about due to the pandemic and understanding what these issues are and how considered and effective communication cannot only reassure workers but also help them to remain productive and proactive in their approach to work. Sensitivity, empathy and clear and concise instructions need to form the basis of your communication style. Clarity in emails and virtual meetings are important to retain worker confidence in you and the business and your future employer will be looking for clear signs of social and emotional intelligence.
We all have soft skills and we use them in every aspect of our lives. Now is the time to dig a little deeper and consider how we can translate these skills further into our professional lives to help propel our career prospects for the future. Employers are prioritising these skills as they know they hold the key to unlocking the future potential of their businesses in a coronavirus world.