Machines are replacing some human jobs, so it’s important that humans work on their “human skills” in order to remain competitive.
The future of work will see greater collaboration between humans and machines, which means professionals must develop ‘soft’ skills.
Human soft skills include training or ‘learnability’ to adapt to new demands, cognitive flexibility, creativity, and complex problem-solving.
A study carried out by LinkedIn found that companies are starting to look for a combination of hard and soft skills in potential employees. Similarly, the World Economic Forum 2018 Jobs report found that in the future, “human skills” will be vital to success.
Why is this? Some have argued that because machines have started to replace human jobs, it’s important that humans work on their “human skills” in order to remain competitive. More importantly, many experts believe that rather than fully substituting humans, machines and humans will work alongside each other.
In either case, the need for professionals to develop soft skills is critical.
Top 10 Soft Skills for the Future of Work
The ability to grow and adapt your skillset will be key to employability in the future, especially as new jobs appear and traditional positions become irrelevant or taken by machines. Many companies have already implemented various programs to help upskill their workers. The main challenge is that technological advances are happening faster than ever, making it harder for individuals to change, learn, and adapt. This is why professionals who are able to learn new skills fast will have a competitive advantage over others.
Suggested reading: “Learnability: The Most Important Skill to Succeed in the Future of Work”
2. Cognitive Flexibility
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch between thinking about different concepts or being able to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Instead of focusing on specialization, many companies have started to search for candidates that have a robust skill set that allows them to approach problems with critical thinking from a variety of points of view. Being able to think creatively and logically at the same time will provide professionals with a competitive advantage, especially with new types of jobs that combine both the left and right sides of the brain.
3. Critical Thinking and Analysis
As technological advances provide companies with increasing amounts of data, critical thinking and analysis will be key to success. In the future, employable professionals will be those that are able to gather data, understand it, analyze it, and formulate decisions based on that analysis.
4. Creativity and Innovation
Creativity is the ability to perceive the world in new ways and it has played a key role in the development of the future of work. Creative thinking often leads to innovation (cellphones, robots, streaming services, etc.) and with new data available to companies, those who are able to think creatively and act on their ideas will likely lead companies to success in the future, as these are the individuals who are most likely to find new business, product, service, or investment opportunities. More importantly, the future of work will require new ways of thinking from professionals because it will combine machines, humans, and other technologies.
5. Complex Problem-Solving
The problems and challenges of the future will likely be more complex than the ones companies face today — they will combine different elements of technology, environment, humans, data, etc. As technology continues to evolve and advance, new sets of problems will likely emerge; the same goes for new job positions. Professionals will need to develop complex problem-solving skills to help companies overcome the challenges of the future, taking into consideration the vast amounts of information and data that will then be available.
6. Emotional Intelligence
Your ability to be aware of, understand, control, and express your feelings and emotions as well as those of others will give you a competitive advantage in the future, especially considering that machines are still behind humans in this particular aspect. Emotional intelligence is particularly important because many have argued that the future of work is collaborative, and a strong emotional intelligence means you are better able to connect, interact, and work with others.
7. Communication and Storytelling
In the future, professionals will communicate with humans and machines, making communication skills even more critical than they are today. In the future, it’ll become highly important for workers to be able to communicate their views, ideas, solutions, etc. effectively and through a variety of channels (written word, audio, video, visuals, etc.). In this sense, storytelling will become a very desirable skill for businesses, especially considering it can help brands connect with audiences and help companies establish a sense of loyalty and trust with clients and consumers. It can also help companies set the tone for the corporate culture.
8. Time Management
Time is an expensive resource, especially now that the lines between work and life have merged. Time management will be a critical soft skill in the future of work as the traditional 9 to 5 work hours become obsolete and people work whenever works best for them. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a strong grasp on how you spend your time (whether for work or for your personal life). Time management skills can help prevent burnout, stress, and anxiety, all of which contribute to a strong emotional intelligence.
9. Service Orientation
Great customer service is what sets apart good companies from great ones. Being able to deal with clients and consumers in a professional, friendly, and empathy-driven manner will provide companies and professionals with a competitive advantage, especially as consumers worldwide increasingly demand unique experiences rather than products or services. There’s a reason people complain about robocalls and automated chatbots; there really is no better alternative to authentic human interactions.
Leadership will be a key skill in the future of work as more companies embrace remote teams and flexible working policies. Strong leaders will be those that are able to motivate, inspire, and guide employees even when they’re not physically in the same place. Leadership will also play an important role in problem-solving and innovation.