Future of Work is Hard and Soft Skills

COVID Remixes the Future of Work: “Hard” and “Soft” Skills

For years, the “future of work” has been on the horizon. But, who knew, we were just one pandemic away from pushing “fast forward” on working from home, and implementing a host of “skills of the future.”

According to “The 2020 Cornerstone Global Research Report,” in recent years, “Talent leaders have prioritized ‘hard’ skills like data analytics and programming, rather than ‘soft’ skills like creativity and collaboration.” But, COVID has quickly shifted the tide “toward a mix of hard and soft skills,” with organizations fostering an environment in which “innovation, adaptation, and diverse thinking produce repeated competitive success.”

As Bernadette Wightman, a Managing Director at BT (formerly British Telecom), summarized at the World Economic Forum, “As demand for mathematics, computing and data analysis grows, so too will the need for human attributes like creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation.”

The Cornerstone research team surveyed business leaders from 500 large, global companies, and 1,000 employees from industries skewing towards tech, banking, finance, insurance, and manufacturing. One key finding was, for employees, “People are taking charge of their own careers and demanding more as they realize the market is no longer an employer market but an employee market,” according to Meredith Taghi, VP of Deutsche Post DHL. What’s more, 66% of the survey’s employee respondents said that “meaningful work” was “extremely or very important” when choosing an employer to work for, compared to 65% who said the same for “competitive pay.”

Looking towards the future, the plurality of employers and employees alike want employees to develop technology skills. Yet, when asked which skills were most important to their firms in the past, the top skills mentioned were: agility and adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and learning new skills, which “may suggest that employers look for soft skills when making hiring decisions, but look to hard skills when making development decisions.”

ABL Healthcare and Technology InsightsBy Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Technology and Healthcare Companies