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In trying times, how employees adapt to a world pandemic is validating the importance of soft skills in the workplace.

The Globe and Mail recently highlights how COVID-19 has emphasized soft skills such as resilience, empathy, and problem-solving for employees of all positions. It is also shaping what employers keep in mind when hiring new talent.

According to a 2018 survey of business leaders by the Business Council of Canada, employers listed “collaboration, communication, problem-solving, analytical capabilities and resiliency as their top priorities.

The number one trait that employees and candidates want in a leader is a purpose-driven and caring mindset, according to a recent study by LinkedIn. The pandemic has likely aspired these new traits for a leader, says Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn’s Canada Country Manager.

“Employees expect leaders to be inspiring, to be emotionally intelligent, to have good listening and communication skills,” he says.

While the pandemic has further emphasized the value of being emotionally intelligent and flexible, graduates are struggling to meet the skills expectations of employers, according to a study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada. The report highlights how educational institutions do not fully equip graduates with the most in-demand soft skills in the job market. However, the report’s authors say the pandemic has emphasized the importance of these skills and their impact going forward.

“As time has gone on, we become more specific about what those skills actually are that make for a good employee or a good manager,” says Stephen Higham, a research associate for the Conference Board of Canada.

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