Each year, technology plays an ever-increasing role in our lives and organizations.
As Generation Z joins the workforce, companies are growing more thoughtful about how they incorporate technology to engage employees. After all, 96 percent of Generation Z own a smartphone and spend about six hours online each day . For younger generations, technology is simply part of life.
Moreover, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a major (and expanding) role in our organizations, and soon, some of the colleagues we interact with each day may not even be human!
Kai Fu Lee, an artificial intelligence expert, has estimated that 40 percent of the world’s jobs today will be replaced by robots automating tasks  in the next 15 years.
As we increase our usage of and investment in technology, it may feel as though we’re losing the value of connection and discounting people skills in favor of digital capacities and knowledge.
Yet, that approach may be shortsighted.
Despite all of the automation and technology in our businesses, the future of work will require skills that are far more personal than they are digital, skills that are “softer” than they are “hard.”
While predicting that AI would consume a significant portion of our current job functions, Kai Fu Lee also shared that automation cannot yet replace these sorts of roles :
- Creative jobs, such as scientists, writers and artists;
- Complex and strategic jobs, like executives and diplomats;
- Empathic jobs, such as doctors and teachers;
- And, “as-yet-unknown” jobs, or new roles that will be required to manage automation.
These types of jobs require skills that are distinctly human. They require soft skills.
Lee’s point is underscored by the findings of the World Economic Forum. In its Future of Jobs Report , the Forum declared that the following 10 skills will be the most sought-after talents in 2020:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgement and decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
As your organization plans for the future, it’s more important than ever to help employees develop critical soft skills to support their career development and equip them with the talents they need to succeed in your company’s future job roles.
How can you empower your staff with the essential skills they need?
Start by focusing on these four recommendations.
Build Your Plan for Soft Skills Development
1. Determine your priorities.
Take stock of your business’s goals. Consider areas of growth in the business and where your company plans to be in five years. Then, evaluate what sorts of jobs you expect to hire for, common skills you’re seeking, upcoming technology investments and reskilling opportunities within your organization. These considerations will help you understand what sorts of soft skills you may need to prioritize first.
2. Identify your programs and timeline.
As you determine your top priorities, research programs, certifications or trainings that can help you build these essential capabilities within your company. Consider building upon existing programs and seeking out new opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning how Emergenetics® can help support soft skills development, I invite you to revisit one of our previous blog posts here .
Once you’ve identified your preferred programs, begin mapping out your timeline and targets.
3. Secure buy-in.
To secure budget and participation, partner with C-suite and leadership teams  to make sure they are on board with your plan. The statistics I shared earlier in this blog may help you demonstrate just how critical soft skills are in today’s workforce. Moreover, investing in employee development can lead to positive impacts on retention, recruiting cost savings and increased employee engagement.
4. Consider scalability.
While you may focus your initial plan by projecting a year or two into the future, I encourage you to reflect on how you plan to evaluate, evolve and scale your training programs to support the future of your business. Identify what additional resources you will need as you grow and what metrics will help you know when it’s time to move onto the next phase of your programming.
While automation and AI may be on your mind, don’t forget that building soft skills among your staff members is crucial to the long-term health of your business.
By creating a professional development strategy with a focus on soft talents, you can help your staff gain the knowledge they need to thrive in the future and thereby improve your company’s chances for success.
For more insights on how Emergenetics can help you build an effective soft skills program, fill out the form below to connect with our team.