The role of the employee is a relevant touchpoint on the employee experience journey. In particular the employee’s skills have a bearing on engagement: –
Hard skills are the specific abilities and knowledge that an employee needs to do a job, and are gain through books and materials, education, learning by doing, learnt in the classroom or on the job. An employee would be expected to have at least a working knowledge of the required skills when applying for a job or position. Expertise in hard skills is then gained through years of experience and learning and repeated use of those skills.
Soft skills are less obvious and deal more with communication, character, attitude, emotional intelligence, people skills and social skills. These skills enable people to steer through their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills. The Collins English Dictionary defines the term “soft skills” as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.”. Unlike hard skills, soft skills deal more on the interpersonal level with emotions and insights and being able to read a person, judge their mood, know how best to interact with them, and how to build a relationship with them. Additional skills that come under the ‘soft skills’ heading include critical and creative thinking, problem solving, motivation, decision making, conflict resolution and time management. These are all skills that can be learned and developed. One of the major benefits of soft skills is that they are ‘transferable skills’. If the employee has great soft skills they are more adaptable and can use them irrespective of the job.
Soft skills are also key for engagement; they are invaluable in building relationships with team members and colleagues. A positive way to help build these soft skills is to offer a personal development program to employees. Toastmasters is one such program. Basic skills learned in Toastmasters include leadership and communication but beyond that, Toastmasters also aids in developing skills for motivation, self-confidence, self-awareness, team-building, listening, giving constructive feedback, critical thinking, time management, planning, implementation and mentoring.
Employee need to spend time on their personal development and employers should invest time in the development of the employee. The employee and the company will both benefit from the experience of positive development. I would love to hear your thoughts on both this blog and employee experience in general, so do please feel free to leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare.