Business HR

Soft skills are a growing concern

As work appears to get increasingly digitized and workers in numerous industries face the looming possibility of automation, panic and uncertainty can be seen. Their values and strengths as employees are becoming uncertain.

A 2014 report by the Council of Economic Advisers stated that 47 per cent of millennials between the ages of 25 to 34 have received a post-secondary degree.

Many workers are able to get better educated and this indicates that hard skills are plentiful. This could mean that a greater focus on the importance of soft skills may become apparent.

Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS describes hard skills as what you do and soft skills as how you do it. Sadly, one in three recruiting professionals believe that job candidates’ soft skills have gotten worse in the past five years. It’s a growing concern and even Ali Baba’s Jack Ma has said that “We have to teach something unique, so that a machine can never catch up with us. These are the soft skills that we need to be teaching our children.”

So what are soft skills anyway?

You could describe soft skills as hard-to-quantify behavioural and interpersonal abilities, such as the willingness to learn and to work well in a team.

They can be pretty different from hard skills (intrinsically technical skills that are needed to perform the fundamental processes of specific jobs).

Soft skills can help workers effectively communicate, solve problems, collaborate and more. Expect these skills to become even more important to the success of organisations (particularly as industries continue to change rapidly through technology).

The good news?

It’s likely that all of us naturally possess some soft skills. Employees and employers should try to determine which soft skills are the strongest in each individual and which are most in-demand for certain roles.

While companies may have no issue teaching employees hard skills, soft skills can be harder to teach. This is why in a low unemployment market, companies should hire for soft skills first and then train for hard skills later.

Here are a few soft skills that can make your workforce more competitive.

Problem Solving

62% of recruiters seek people who can find solutions.

This soft skill appears to be most important for employees who want to work in management.

As we transition into a Googleified world where answers can be found with just a few clicks, people may not be equipped to tackle real-life dilemmas effectively. This is why employees should proactively develop problem solving skills which can help them retain relevance and competitiveness in the market.  

Work ethic

This is probably one of the more complex soft skills out of the entire spectrum. It can be described as the ability to take pride in the quality of your work and can include having a willingness or sense of commitment to complete tasks independently and effectively.

It may have long been considered an innate trait that’s distilled at a young age and you could say that individuals either possess this quality by the time they reach adulthood or they don’t.

Factors like a person’s upbringing and his or her experiences can all contribute to the strength of his/her work ethic. It’s in high demand, is a defining pillar of hard-working individuals and millennials found to possess this quality could find themselves excelling in their workplaces.

Communication skills

The millennial workforce should pay attention to this particular skill (you could call it an evergreen skill) as communication in both written and oral forms can be crucial for many fields/positions.

Sadly, however, many employers seem to think that millennials often lack this specific skill.

You can expect that, as complex, social constructs, workplaces rely on systems, processes and tasks performed by teams of employees. Communication can be the glue that holds these teams and departments together.

Proper business communication can help with landing interviews, gaining confidence and building trust among peers or partners.

Careless typing, as well as formatting errors or the over-abbreviation of words, are all examples of possible communication flaws faced by many people today.

Time Management

Pay attention because you might just find that many recruiters (and employers) place a huge amount of emphasis on the importance of proper time management.

The ability to schedule your obligations and duties at work in a timely manner can be considered one of the most essential soft skills (especially in work environments that are extremely fast moving or prone to intense periods of activity). In smaller organisations, pivoting and wearing many hats are probably more common practices and even these can require individuals with sound time management skills.


At TraitQuest, we aim to bridge the gap between employee and employer relationship by providing a robust talent management, employee engagement and talent retention system. As strong believers in growth and progress, our continuous efforts leverage on data-driven decision making, derived traits profiling, workplace gamification via a well-rounded multi-level engagement platform which ensures organisation to achieve top level productivity. To sum up our value proposition – we provide enterprise cloud-based solutions for workflow management and collaboration to drive employees’ motivation and engagement, cultivate a healthy corporate culture thereby retaining your valued employees. We are one of the recipients of HR Vendor of the Year 2018 for Best HR Start Up Company in Malaysia.

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