What are soft skills, and why do they matter?

The past three years have transformed the way we work, requiring each of us to navigate remote work, new technology, and increase our tolerance to constant change. Success in this new workplace dynamic requires more than just the technical skills that employees may have historically relied on. Attributes known as “soft skills” are becoming more important to success and satisfaction in the workplace.

“Soft skills” are abilities, traits, and behaviors that contribute to how effectively you relate to and collaborate with others. Some examples of soft skills are communication, problem solving, teamwork, and emotional intelligence. Whenever we interact with coworkers, students, and customers, soft skills are at play. They also make a difference in self-guided work: time management, organization, and adaptability all fall under the umbrella of soft skills.

We may think of many of these attributes as innate, and therefore more difficult to define, let alone learn. However, soft skills can be taught and learned, and there’s good reason to: according to a study by LinkedIn, 92% of professionals believe that soft skills are just as important, if not more important, than technical skills. 80% believe they’re increasingly important to company success.

Well-honed soft skills can bring many benefits to you and your department, including:

  • Stronger interpersonal communication skills
  • Improved teamwork and coworker relationships 
  • More innovative and comprehensive problem solving
  • Increased adaptability and flexibility
  • Better work/life balance and improved time management skills

Want to start developing your own soft skills? WSU employees can use the following resources to assess and develop their soft skills:

  • Assess your current soft skills:
    • Percipio offers Skill Benchmarks for many soft skills to obtain a baseline in each area where you have interest.
  • Participate in training and development opportunities: 
    • Attend the 2023 Elevating Cougs conference, where the Developing as a Cougar and Leading as a Cougar tracks offer unique learning opportunities focused on soft skill development.
    • Percipio offers on-demand training recommendations based on employees’ interest in developing certain skills.
  • Track outcomes and impact: 
    • Percipio’s Skills Benchmarks can be taken after participating in training opportunities to assess your improvement in the application and understanding of soft skills. 

Soft skills are increasingly important to continued employee success, growth, and satisfaction. WSU employees are encouraged to take advantage of soft skill development opportunities, and to consider honing these attributes as a worthwhile investment in their professional and personal development.

Want to stay in the loop about the soft skill development opportunities at Elevating Cougs 2023? Visit the conference website, or sign up to receive updates in your inbox.