The Development of Soft Skills: Critical to Professional Success
Labor environments are always evolving as corporations incorporate technology into their organizations. This practice is creating pivotal changes to business models, and as such, human resources are changing too. Today’s professionals are facing the challenge of staying up-to-date and competitive in an ever-changing business landscape. How can they overcome it? The answer is to develop soft skills and their ability to learn.
If these new technological solutions hitting the scene are making an impact on society as a whole, their impact multiples in those firms in the digital world. These include digital marketing consulting firms (as in our case), completely online entities like mobile apps, e-commerce sites, and more. For these firms, the challenge is double because the need to stay up-to-date and competitive adds to the difficulty this supposes in relatively young industries such as mobile apps.
In this changing and uncertain environment, both professionals and employees need to find the formula to overcome the challenges posed and ensure employees can meet the business’s needs at all times. From our perspective, the answer lies in developing soft skills and continuous training as they are interdependent. We believe it to be especially true in the digital world that we know best.
Soft skill development: a growing need
To put it into context, soft skills are all those competencies related to emotional intelligence or EQ, the ability to work in a team, leadership, conflict resolution, etc. They have to do with an employee's attitudes and aptitudes to tackle their job. In contrast, hard skills are technical skills or knowledge that a worker has to carry out their job. An example of a hard skill is graphic design knowledge or the use of specific tools.
Why is soft skill development critical in today's business context? The answer is simple: they have no expiration date. Knowing how to use Photoshop will benefit you until a new version comes out or making Excel spreadsheets won't be necessary when AI does them for us. In turn, all these soft skills are those that make us unique as professionals and will continue to be useful in any labor environment we find ourselves in whether today or a decade from now.
As we note in our tourism trends report, 85% of workplace success comes from developing soft skills according to studies from universities like Harvard and Stanford. University degrees are becoming increasingly less relevant. Tech giants like Apple and Google and even firms like IBM or Ernst & Young (EY) are hiring people without college degrees and instead prioritizing soft skills.
Professional success is the fruit of a balanced combination of hard and soft skills. It is true, however, that when it comes to developing skills, we tend to pay attention to soft skills. We often forget how important it is to know how to speak in public, develop leadership skills, or cultivate our teamwork abilities.
All these aspects that are linked to soft skills are those that will let us overcome the challenges that our professional present or future will put in front of us. No matter the industry, time, or context, your soft skills will help you turn yourself into a unique and competitive professional profile. Machines can not replace these skills.
Out of all our skills, there's one you should take special care to cultivate because it's critical for overcoming your current and future challenges. That's the ability to learn. It's not about continually acquiring new knowledge for the sake of acquiring it but instead developing a growth mentality and the willingness to keep learning over time. This skillset will make the difference between a flatlined career trajectory or one where you'll continue to climb the ladder.
Employee training as a business strategy
When a person takes on continuous learning as a lifestyle, assimilating ideas or abilities stops being a source of fear or stress. They end up taking it to heart because this philosophy helps us improve and get out of our comfort zone again and again.
Similarly, when a project or our tasks change, developing this mentality eases the transition and doesn't cause an imbalance. It involves a new jumping-off point, a challenge, and new things to learn. Therefore, increase your ability to keep your finger on the pulse and productivity in the face of adversity.
And what role do corporations play in this? They should serve as facilitators meaning they should promote continuous training for their employees and bring it closer to them. The benefits are numerous, and you can see them reflected in the balance sheet. If employees are up-to-date on the latest in their industry and develop new skills, they'll be more efficient in their work, and they'll foster innovation within the firm giving hold to new services or critical improvements in current ones. Above all, they'll be more motivated and committed to the organization.
Besides this, companies that invest in training are more attractive and capable of retaining and attracting talent. Today's professionals, especially young people belonging to the digital age, go to video platforms or online courses to cultivate their skills out of habit. What will they think of a company that puts this all within their grasp?
In the case of WAM, we know our employees have restless minds. We also know they like to learn new things, always have information at hand, and want the process to be fast and straightforward. That's why we offer our team platforms and initiatives that let them choose their preferred format for acquiring the knowledge they need for their position or fulfill their desires, satisfy their curiosity, and cultivate their ability to learn.
We, therefore, have a responsibility between all of us (and it's in our hands) to find that magic formula to tackle the challenges that the new labor environment we're living in presents us.