The Increasing Importance of Soft Skills in Recruitment, Retention, and Organizational Success
A recent report by LinkedIn Talent Solutions* cites some interesting statistics regarding the importance of soft skills in the hiring process, retention levels, and overall organizational success. Soft skills complement hard and technical skills; they are a combination of people skills and social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, and high levels of interpersonal sensitivity and common sense; these skills assist team members to understand their work environment, to build strong working relationships, and work effectively in order to achieve their objectives. With younger generations spending an increasing amount of time on their SMART phones, tablets, and digital platforms, it is felt that the art of communication and social interaction are in danger of becoming almost extinct, driving the need for more soft skills assessment and development.
According to the research by LinkedIn, ‘92% of talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, and 80% say they’re increasingly important to company success.’ They also state that 89% of bad hires lack soft skills. However, only 41% of companies surveyed has a formal process in place to measure soft skills, and ironically, AI is seen as being able to help in their detection. This is surprising, when you consider that many global organizations utilize a range of robust talent assessment solutions in their recruitment process, from competency/behavioural/situational based interview questions, to psychometric tests, including personality questionnaires.
Occupational and Psychometric Tests
Occupational and psychometric tests are designed to provide an objective and fair assessment of abilities and aptitude; they are designed to find out more about an individual’s own strengths, development areas and blind spots, which encompass soft skills. There is strong evidence that tests can provide information which is reliable in predicting job success. In addition, Personality Questionnaires give a comprehensive picture of how people are likely to behave at work, how they relate to others, the way they solve problems and approach conflict, i.e. how good their soft skills are.
The report states that the soft skills in most demand are:
- Creativity (encompassing Problems Solving skills)
- Persuasion (communicating, negotiating and influencing effectively)
- Collaboration (teamwork and cross-functional working)
- Adaptability (flexing styles and being flexible to work on projects, in different functions and/countries
- Time Management
These skills often form part of Competency Frameworks, which companies use to create Job Descriptions and Person Specs in order to effectively assess, recruit and then develop their staff. If an organization has the right Competency Framework in place, with associated behaviours, this provides a solid platform for hiring, retaining and training their employees. Another robust means of assessing soft skills is a 360 Feedback Review.
Much of our work at Natural Talent over the past 15 years has centred around assessing and developing many soft skills for leaders, managers, and team members to create real and sustainable behavioural change and performance improvement. Working in close partnership with our clients HR and L and D functions we assess soft skills by using a range of methods and personality questionnaires, such as OPQ32, Strength Deployment Indicator, Insights, NEO, Hogan, Myers Briggs, Team Needs Questionnaire.
Soft Skills Development
- Effective Communication, Negotiation and Influencing
- Flexing Leadership and Management Styles
- Developing Emotional Intelligence
- Developing Assertiveness
- Building Effective Working Relationships
- Managing Conflict and Having the Difficult Conversations
- Successful Planning, Organizing, Prioritizing, and Time Management
- Problem Solving and Analysis
The report suggests that companies are turning to AI in order to assess soft skills, however, putting candidates in front of their potential future team members is an effective selection method, and many tools and techniques already exist, provided they are used correctly and administered by a qualified Assessor.
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