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‘Soft skills’ – a misnomer?

‘Soft skills’ is a strange term. I asked my engineer husband what it meant to him, and he said ‘anything to do with human interaction.’ Pretty crucial then, wouldn’t you say? And we all know that working with people who don’t have these ‘soft’ skills is demotivating, frustrating, and also means that we’re less productive. There’s a heap of data that proves it too – a strong link between engagement and profitability, for example.

This data, from Saba, shows that only 30% of the 550 companies surveyed actually have a robust programme for soft skill development, and 27% do very little. Maybe there’s a link between that and the misnomer ‘soft’ skills – the term implies that there isn’t a ‘hard’ outcome, and yet there is, and it goes straight to the bottom line. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working virtually or face-to-face, these skills drive productivity.

So why aren’t companies investing more in the skills of human interaction? Let’s hope they do more going forward, as it’s undoubtedly recognised that we need more innovation, more agility and greater understanding as we move towards recovery.

Shall we come up with a better name than ‘soft’ skills? All suggestions welcomed!

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