Gone are the days when the workplace was merely a physical space with regular office hours. The world of work is going through a period of unprecedented transformation. Machines will change the context of jobs, leading people to specialize in tasks that are unpredictable, not robotic.
Thus, in this global, innately interdependent and multicultural world, humanity comes to the centre of attention. Between 2018 and 2022, companies expect a significant shift on the frontier between humans and machines when it comes to existing work tasks. Business and financial acumen, as well as technical skills, are not sufficient by themselves. It’s the balance of the two that reckons.
Being human will be at the forefront of business, enabling people to leverage their uniquely human capabilities. A new report from McKinsey Global Institute sees the demand for social and emotional skills rising by 22-24% of hours worked. A LinkedIn Global Survey shows that 91% of talent professionals agree that soft skills are a major trend for the future of recruiting and HR. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills.
Despite the obvious need for increasing people-skill capacities, both current and potential employees are often reported as being deficient in these skills. Even though executives state that people skills are as important as academic ability, not all leaders are urged to develop them.
Undoubtedly, global labour markets are rapidly undergoing major transformations. World Economic Forum’s Job Report 2018 states that by 2022 no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling.
Addressing and raising awareness for people skills is the first step, but not enough. It needs much more:
- Research such as the Future of Jobs Report 2018 shows that current re- and upskilling efforts are largely focused on highly-skilled employees – an expression of a traditional mindset and leadership style. Lower level employees most in need are least likely to receive such education.
- Developing the necessary people skills does not happen with a half day webinar or a checklist. On the contrary, it takes time and a process-oriented approach.
Developing proficiencies require an inner, self-reflective process as well as a combination of experience and knowledge, to guarantee a transfer into everyday life. It starts with oneself and is a life-long learning endeavour. Short-term trainings are often money-wasted. Learning emerges from the continued opportunity to construe the experiences and reconstrue them in transformative ways.
Finally, it is high time to see soft factors as essential, not as a hindrance. Such trainings are an investment, not a liability. Companies wishing to be successful in the future have no choice but to substantially invest in people long-term and to create a culture of life-long, continuous learning which requires a strategic approach.
Research of the World Economic Forum believes that the window of opportunity, for proactive management of the workplace change, is closing fast. Business, government and workers must plan and implement a new vision for the global labour market now.
Humanity needs to be back in business at all levels. Time to act is now. A wait and see approach is already having a negative impact. For a future of good work for all bold leadership is critical.
Are you ready?
What people skills are needed in the future workplace?
Communication competencies are crucial, comprising skills such as speech clarity, speaking, active listening, persuasion and negotiation, reading comprehension, writing and presentation. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in the U.S. rank communication skills in the top three most-sought-after qualities by job recruiters.
Complex problem solving is a close second, gathering skills like problem sensitivity, mental elasticity, fluency of ideas, complex information processing and being able to make connections across complex ideas. Additionally, critical thinking, attention to detail and innovative thinking are stipulated.
Social and emotional skills are on the rise such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, social intelligence, emotional safety, originality, resilience, possessing insights to others and social perceptiveness. Core in this group is empathy and collaboration. Such proficiencies are essential as projects grow increasingly more complex and intercultural. Finally, the need for creativity and inquisitiveness shifts up as the future business challenges demand innovation for growth.