What Are Soft Skills And Do We Really Need Them?

Dr. Purushothaman
December 7, 2013

Wikipedia defines soft skills as "personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person's ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace."

Soft skills are also called Job Readiness, workplace readiness, emotional intelligence, emotional quotient, people skills, employability skills, interpersonal skills, individual interaction skills, behavioral competencies and business soft skills.

A market research study found that almost 92 percent of the organizations surveyed felt that there is a definite lack of emotional quotient in employees today. The job readiness most often cited were put into three categories;
-Verbal Communications
-Written Communications
-Workplace Relationships

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in "human engineering," your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge.

Paul McDonald of Robert Half said "The notion of job readiness being 'nice to haves' in the workplace is dead," McDonald said. "These abilities are now ESSENTIAL, and can often determine advancement potential and overall career success."

In the Manpower Group's 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, nearly 20 percent of employers cited a lack of job readiness as a key reason they couldn't hire needed employees. "Interpersonal skills and enthusiasm/motivation" were among the most commonly identified soft skills that employers found lacking.

Employers are now loudly voicing their concerns that the lack of employee skills are hurting productivity and profits. Some said that they have to hire additional people to make up for the lack of output.

Training magazine survey of 700 human resources managers said 67 percent of HR managers say they would hire an applicant with strong soft skills (such as organizational communication, teamwork, problem solving and diplomacy skills) whose technical abilities were lacking.

It is essential for companies to integrate soft skills into their corporate culture. This is usually done with either formal classes or informal online videos. Once the employees know what employers expect from them, they are more likely to deliver. It is best to start this assimilation with new hires then move on to the current staff until every one is on an even playing field. Remember, properly educated in soft skills will give hard results.

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