SOFT SKILLS

The modern workplace is a living organism that is constantly evolving, and the only way to stay relevant as an organisation is to keep abreast of industry trends and implement programs that promote growth and efficiency within the organisation.

We have been looking at 2020 workplace trends, three weeks ago, we considered Trend #2, Remote work. We determined that remote work is rapidly gaining acceptance in workplaces, especially in Information Technology companies. We concluded that promotes work-life balance and increases productivity while cutting cost for employees as well as the organisation. 

The third 2020 Workplace trend we want to consider is the development of soft skills.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 2007, Soft skills are a cluster of productive personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a milieu. 

Soft skills include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. 

Soft skills cover three key functional elements: 

  1. social skills
  2. people skills 
  3. personal career attributes 

These skills are crucial for today’s workplace as they complement hard or technical skills. Soft skills have become a major criterion for employment as well as advancement in an organisation.  

An employee’s soft skill is a crucial part of their contribution to the overall success of their organization, especially if such an organisation deals with customers on a face-to-face basis. A critical success factor for an organisation like this is the ability to promote activities that help employees develop these skills through team-building activities and wellness enhancing programs. 

Soft skills

The following is a top ten list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University 

  1. Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humour, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

Although difficult to quantify, soft skills play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. They help facilitate human connections needed for high-performance and efficiency in the workplace. 

Building a great workplace structure

DEVELOPING A GREAT WORKPLACE CULTURE

There was a time when the brand value of an organization and remuneration paid to workers made an organization a desirable place to work.

However, today’s workplace has evolved to the extent that fat pay cheques, generous tips, and bonuses can no longer attract or keep employees, especially when the workplace is toxic. Sadly, organizations lose great talents because of their failure to put a premium on developing a healthy organizational culture.

A healthy workplace culture is what attracts talents and imbues them with a sense of loyalty which binds them to the organization and makes them continually give their best to ensure the company stays in business and is profitable.

What constitutes workplace culture? you might ask; Workplace culture refers to those intangible attributes of an organization that makes it a great or toxic place to work in, these attributes are largely defined by the ideology that drives the organization.

These ideologies are often reflected how employees related to management as well as one another. Inclusivity Consultant and Behavioural Scientist, Dr Pragyal Agarwal maintains that positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce.

Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive work environment reduces stress in employees. The following are simple ways an organization can improve their workplace culture:

1. Communication and collaboration: a workplace culture that values and encourages open and honest communication, feedback and teamwork are all vital for improving workplace culture.

2. Continued learning opportunities: knowledge sharing, brainstorming sessions as well as social interactions within the office all add up to improve the workplace culture of an organization.

3. All-inclusive work environment: value, support and encourage all employees regardless of gender, ethnicity, social or religious orientation. All employees should have equal access to growth and advancement opportunities, bonuses and general goodwill.

4. Establish trust: employees should be able to confide in management and have honest conversations with one another without fear of being judged. Again, trust that you have a good and dependable team.

5. Make onboarding of new staff easy and warm: get an old and friendly team member to take the new staff around and acquaint them with the rest of the team, answer their questions and help set up their workspace. A great workplace culture takes time, effort and dedication to develop, but it is worth it. The first step is to have frank a conversation with your team and communicate your vision for the company to them in clear terms and ensure they identify with it; once this is achieved, the rest will easily fall in place.