The New Work approach for Teams: Why soft skills have become the new hard skills

November 25, 2020

New Work is revolutionizing the working world in terms of what we expect from our work, the way we work, and how we work together with others. New Work has brought about the dawn of a new working era, fostering a working world where everyone should maximize their own full potential through collaborative efforts. It’s an adjustment that can be seen as a response to the changing values in our society: more individuality and self-realization has created a conceptual perspective of work that differs from what existed in previous decades. More attention is now being given to how teams are created, putting team-building among one of the most important business decisions. So how are New Work approaches being reflected in personnel management? What capabilities are companies implementing the New Work approach looking for in their employees?

The right employees promote company growth

The well-known saying “a company is only as good as its employees” is more relevant today than ever before. New Work places emphasize on the employee as the most valuable component of a business. The focus has shifted away from how to lead teams towards how to build teams which harmonize well and can grow together. Applicants today need more than just an impressive CV to get their foot in the door. They have to demonstrate that they are a good fit for the company’s team and its corporate culture. By doing so, overall employee satisfaction is ensured – and at a time where self-development is viewed as essential, employees are increasingly raising their expectations in regard to their workplace. Moreover, it’s been proven that employee satisfaction has a positive impact on the quality of the work delivered, which in turn means higher profitability for the company. 

The recipe for success: motivation!

Actually, it’s quite simple. Employees who enjoy coming to work view their jobs as a challenge that motivates them. They like taking on responsibility, working efficiently and are committed to their company. Dedication, identifying with the workplace culture and a personal interest in contributing to the company’s success evokes synergy between the individual employee and the company. Companies are significantly changing their recruiting processes to attract the right talent for their teams. Long-term personnel management is being favored over the “hire and fire” mentality. Companies encourage their employees to self-manage and invest in their professional training. Synergy comes into play here, too, since supporting the personal and professional development of an employee also optimizes their work skills. On their quest to build the right team, personnel managers are looking beyond a candidate’s CV and placing more interest in their social skills.

New Work and the demand for more soft skills: what skills does my team need?

Hard skills (professional expertise) are knowledge-based and measurable. While these skills will undoubtedly continue to play a critical role when selecting an applicant, other attributes, centering mostly around human behavior and referred to as soft skills, are gaining importance. Soft skills focus on emotional intelligence, the ability to build personal relationships and managerial competence.  They’re commonly divided into 5 key categories: self-awareness, self-management, intrinsic self-motivation, empathy and, of course, social capabilities. These are desirable skills to facilitate the ultimate goal of communicating positively and working together respectfully.

In the age of digital transformation, the demand is increasing for such key soft skills as empathy. Humans have the capacity to empathize, technology can only replicate this ability to a very limited extent. Due to changing New Leadership approaches, empathy is a sought-after skill not only for employees but for managers as well. Vital skills include intercultural expertise, an agile demeanor and an eagerness to make decisions, as well as the ability to solve complex problems, a willingness to commit to lifelong learning and an inquisitive nature. In the end, communication is key: discussing matters openly and the ability to resolve conflicts is the foundation for successful, fulfilling collaborative work. 

Growing together with Soft Skills: “Soft Skills are 2020’s Hard Skills”

proclaimed the headline of an article in Forbes magazine. In the age of New Work and New Leadership, there’s a new focus on collaboration to create a work environment that provides employees and companies the prospect of long-term growth together. Soft skills are critical abilities that are relevant on both a personal and business level, with interpersonal relationships in the workplace having greater importance than ever before. For this very reason, companies looking to scale up can benefit from employees with highly-developed soft skills. Internal procedures will run smoother and self-motivated workers contribute a lot to their companies in return. This results not only in an improved working atmosphere for employees, but also yields increased productivity and success for the business itself.