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Workplace Wellbeing

Soft Skills: The New Workplace Currency

As an advocate for soft skills I get a rush listening to Gary V, Jordan Peterson and Simon Sinek who are thought leaders in modern leadership, human skills and work ethic.

This is a guest post by Sarah Fritz, Founder & CEO of Yes Queen, a company focused on future-proofing wellbeing at work by erasing bullying and supporting safe, positive and inclusive cultures.

For two decades I’ve thrived as an employee and as a manager who continued to anchor into soft traits – empathy, kindness and collaboration – even though this is not a mainstream approach in the corporate world, and at times was not welcomed by my leaders and peers – I’ve now found my innate attributes are becoming more popular, sought after and celebrated. Praise be!

Last year I attended the Future of Work summit in Melbourne, which was largely focused on technology; it surprised (and delighted) me that each project or idea was lead with humanness and kindness – every speaker had a fierce passion for the future of our race and planet.

The closing presentation by ‘Future Crunch’ was the final validation for the event, which had an overarching theme of people and soft skills in our technological era.

The last slide read “SOFT BEATS HARD”, along this powerful phrase the ‘Future Crunch’ team said, “ human skills like empathy and compassion lead to collaboration – collaboration is the most crucial part of the future of work”.

As we catapult into the epoch of AI, AR and VAs we cannot let humans get lost in the pixel haze. Successful people and businesses of the future will be built on high social and emotional intelligence – it may surprise some to learn that success at work relies on 80% EQ and 20% IQ.

We are already seeing a desire for these abilities over technical skills from employers – “I look for people with kind souls, who are motivated with a beautiful energy above anything else. I look for people with a clear idea of who they are and for people who love what they do.

I believe skills can be taught, so having people work with me that understand the values ‘White November’ has been built upon is so important” says Founder, Bianca Librandi.

Two top emotional skills are empathy and kindness; what are they and how can we practice them at work?

Empathy

By definition empathy is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’.

Empathic people have a magic ability to make you feel like you are the only one in the room – they listen with their ears and eyes; they give people the freedom to express themselves in a safe manner without interrupting; they communicate mindfully and objectively; their nature is led by love, compassion and kindness.

“In an analysis of 25 common skill sets today, researchers found that between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26%.” (Source: McKinsey) “92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is a major factor for employee retention.” (Source: Spoke)

How to practice empathy at work:

  • Observe, reflect and understand before you act.
  • Put yourself in your co-workers shoes.
  • Be actively aware of your co-worker’s emotions and have regular check-ins.
  • No matter your position seek feedback on your work style and practices and commit to actioning what is required for positive change (exit: ego, welcome in: self).

Kindness

A sacred virtue is finally having a resurrection and the memo is out: ‘It’s COOL to be KIND’. Kindness is ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’.

Put simply, it’s showing up to work and being nice. And let’s be honest, nice feels good – for your team, the wider floor – and it releases dopamine in your brain – hello natural high – win, win, win. A kinder workplace also increases happiness and productivity – workers will go the extra mile and follow leaders and peers who are kind.

Research by the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) found that incivility “has profound implications on the level of energy, emotional engagement, and performance of work teams.”

How to practice kindness at work:

  • Stop by a co-workers desk and say hello along with some genuine questions of interest – especially someone you don’t know or someone who is reserved. This makes everyone feel included and reminds us all we have a life outside of the office.
  • Invite a less experienced person to a meeting or presentation to help their career progression.
  • If you see someone struggling, offer help and guidance.
  • Compliment your co-workers on their good work.
  • Invite a new employee to lunch – remember how daunting first jobs / days can be?

Cultivating good energy at work starts with small, thoughtful acts. And many small acts lead to great impact. Humans have a built-in instinct to imitate each other – so what you do today will motivate those around you.

Be responsible for good energy, good intention and good acts. In the beautiful words of Buddha, “Set your heart on doing good. Do good over and over again and you will be filled with joy.”

Photography: Sandra Chile via Unsplash

About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.