With the use of Artificial Intelligence and the further digitalization of our world, companies and institutions have realized that not only the hard skills in a profession are very important, but also the more human and personal skills. These soft skills are highly in demand and might determine just who in the end is the best fit for a position. In a pool of equal job applicants with similar qualifications and educational backgrounds, the person who will stand out is the one who best fits into the team and the company by sharing the same values and bringing a personal note to the table.
Reading through job applications on LinkedIn and other job searching portals shows, that soft skills are almost as highly valued as professional qualifications.
Finding the right fit for a position is not as easy as it sounds, especially in times of labor shortages. A recently published survey from Manpower shows that 77 percent of employers report difficulty in filling roles – a 17-year high.
To combat this global talent shortage and the economic downturn this consequently causes, a tactic employers have been relying upon to overcome this challenge is finding candidates with the right personality fit - i.e., the right soft skills - and teaching them the hard skills they need to carry out the job effectively.
What is the definition of soft skills?
The term soft skills might apply that they are not as economically strong as their counterpart – the hard skills. However, whereas hard skills can be taught quite easily by taking the necessary courses and partaking in educational programs, learning soft skills is a more in-depth and complex process than some might think.
The recruiting platform Indeed describes soft skills as abilities that relate to how you work and interact with other people.
Commonly noted soft skills include communication, teamwork, and other interpersonal qualities. Employers look for candidates with soft skills as these skills are hard to teach and are important for long-term success. Soft skills are different from hard skills, which are technical in nature and very job- and industry-specific.
While most academic training focuses on hard skills, i.e. mastering specific techniques and analytical know-how, soft skills relate to emotional intelligence, empathy, problem-solving, and adaptability - qualities that facilitate positive human interaction in all contexts. These qualities are highly sought-after across all industries and job types not simply because they are key to successful customer outcomes, but also because in an increasingly digitalized world, human exchange is precious identity capital to be preserved.
According to Forbes, companies that hire employees with emotional intelligence could increase their revenue by over $90,000. In addition, the magazine indicates that two-thirds of all occupations will require these soft skills by the year 2030.
So what are the top soft skills are employers looking for the most in 2024?
A survey from Manpower has identified the top FIVE most-in-demand soft skills for 2024.
The top FIVE most in-demand soft skills:
1. Reliability & Self-Discipline
One of the top five soft skills employers are looking for is reliability and self-discipline. In fast-paced work environments, this is a very important skill set. It includes a good work ethic, so that employees meet deadlines, deliver projects on time, and can balance multiple responsibilities – all while maintaining overall productivity. Also, time management is an important part of reliability. Employees need to be able to set priorities accordingly, and organize various tasks – sometimes all happening at the same time. This strength requires discipline and the ability to set the right priorities.
A lack of these skills can create a lot of stress within teams and also damage the relationship with the customer if a deadline is not met or a project does not meet the quality standards of the target group. People who can manage their time effectively are more likely to be seen as reliable and efficient, which allows them to stand out in the workplace.
Planning projects and tasks early in advance, setting goals, delegating tasks, and following up with the necessary people can help to improve efficient time management and secure a reliable work ethic.
Punctuality and Professionalism go hand in hand with Reliability and Self-Discipline and all together create a sustainable and professional work ethic within a team and an organization.
Creativity & Originality
Being creative and original is a skill set that is not only needed in the Design and Creative professions. From Barista to Manager creativity and originality are needed in a busy day-to-day to stand out as a brand, for the customer experience, and present an organization from its most innovative side. When employees have the ability to work creatively they are more motivated and feel more included in the development of a company.
Innovative thinking leads to fresh ideas, problem-solving, and competitive advantages.
It also helps with problem-solving and looking at an issue from different angles. Being able to think outside of the box is a highly demanded skill, especially in times of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Critical Thinking & Analysis
Employers are looking for employees who are able to analyze issues and use critical thinking in daily procedures. Being able to showcase these two skills can make an employee stand out from the masses. Especially in professions that require strategic planning or dealing with business uncertainties, it is an essential skill that is in high demand and one of the top soft skills companies are currently looking for.
Analytical skills are an increasingly prevalent skill set to master for the future job market as the digital world collects more and more data at every touchpoint which can be used to inform decisions and innovate.
To gather and objectively assess key information to inform consensus or decision-making is very important in departments like Computer & IT, Accounting & Finance, and Business Development but also other segments, that require employees to step out of their comfort zone and take a more intellectually bold approach to work procedures.
Reasoning & Problem Solving
A skill set that is also related to critical thinking is problem-solving and reasoning. In today’s increasingly complex world, organizations face a lot of unpredictable and unexpected issues. Having employees that can react in such situations is crucial for the success of an organization. Therefore, the ability to solve intricate problems is a valuable soft skill in the job market. Employees who can identify problems, generate solutions, and implement them effectively are very popular candidates.
Finding a solution to a problem involves the ability to come up with alternative solutions. It requires identifying and addressing complex challenges and opportunities in various fields.
It is necessary to make smart decisions in times of crisis or challenge. When employees are able to analyze a situation and can come up with the best course of action it is more efficient for a company and can also save a lot of resources.
Strategically solving problems is a key success factor for any company. Whereas in today's world, there is data to help make informed decisions it still comes down to the human behind it to decide which strategy is the best to combat an issue and overcome a challenge a business is facing.
Resilience & Adaptability
A resilient approach to work but also life in general is a highly important trait. Technological advances are being made at a fast pace, so nowadays things are changing so quickly that humans need to be able to adapt to these challenges, new developments, and circumstances. It is a significant asset for a company to have employees who are able to deal with these changes and adapt to new workflows and procedures.
The mindset of hospitality workers is by nature very versatile since they are working with customers from different cultural backgrounds and different expectations. Long hours, multi-tasking, constant customer accountability – these are just a few of the challenges that hospitality employees and managers face daily. It takes resilience, adaptability, and innovative thinking simply due to the ‘adversity advantage’ ingrained in its professional DNA.
These skills needed can also be summed up as VUCA, which stands for “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” and acts as a catch-all for the challenges of a rapidly evolving business environment. It is simply engrained in the DNA of hospitality workers to adapt and be resilient in their everyday work processes.
When faced with challenges or if something has gone sideways it is also important to be able to bounce back and not get demotivated by failure. Therefore resilience is a very much needed skill to be able to conquer the challenges employees face at work and to stay ahead of the curve.
How EHL is teaching soft skills and human-centricity
At EHL, with our teaching experience of 130 years the human experience has always been at the center. The teaching focus has been to provide a smart direction for business leadership based on a mix of hard work, vision, and high standards. Ambitious future leaders need to understand that success depends as much on a tight business plan as it does on the people-centricity of their team and the soft skills they bring to the table.
Hospitality is first and foremost a ‘people’ business, both from the internal business point of view and from the external customer perspective. To be successful in the sector, it is essential to know how to function as part of a team – either as a leader or as a participant. Every team member has a contribution to make and each individual role is critical to the team achieving its objectives: delivering people-driven service excellence at all times. Whether back or front of house, there are few touchpoints in the hospitality industry that do not involve a human exchange.
At EHL, the message to our students is clear: good interpersonal skills are essential to the success of any business. These people skills are as much learned from the experiential, hands-on curriculum that prides itself on in-situ learning, as from the multicultural personality of the school where over 120 nationalities study and work side by side.
We teach that people-centricity is key. People-centricity involves not just the customers, but all stakeholders including employees, business owners, and suppliers. Our curriculum reflects a commitment both to digital innovation as well as preservation and expansion of human themes: the creation of an inclusive community, social accountability, a sense of purpose and belonging. Dr. Achim Schmitt, EHL Dean of Graduate Programs
About EHL Group
EHL Group is the global reference in education, innovation and consulting for the hospitality and service sector.
With expertise dating back to 1893, EHL Group now offers a wide range of leading educational programs from apprenticeships to master's degrees, as well as professional and executive education, on three campuses in Switzerland and Singapore. EHL Group also offers consulting and certification services to companies and learning centers around the world. True to its values and committed to building a sustainable world, EHL Group's purpose is to provide education, services and working environments that are people-centered and open to the world. www.ehlgroup.com