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Hard vs. Soft – How the different skillsets of the working generations are affecting businesses

soft skill

In today’s work climate, the difference between the working generations (baby boomers to gen Z and everyone in between) is something all companies and industries are feeling. One big way is in the skillsets each generation brings to the workplace, specifically, hard vs. soft skills. Many jobs clearly require someone to have very technical/hard skills (think of an engineer – who needs to know how to physically design and make what they are engineering!). Results, however, show that “the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting” the profits and productivity of many companies (Emily Heaslip, Vervoe.com). This proves that, as the soft-skills are continuing to be underdeveloped in younger generations, businesses are starting to realize the need for a stronger balance of hard vs. soft skills in their employees and hiring methodologies.

Most companies are feeling the impact of no soft-skills in their hiring pool – there is a growing deficiency in the core set of soft skills that employees and businesses need to know, practice, and preach to maximize productivity and company profits. These skills include communication abilities, time management, listening, and problem solving. The issue is that, more often than not, potential employees simply do not possess these core capabilities. Take for instance generation Z. This generation, more than any other, has impressive hard skills, particularly around technology – yet they often lack the ability to write a simple professional letter, draft an email, interact face-to-face, etc. While this generation definitely fills the need of one-side of the employment equation, they can also create a huge deficit in core business capabilities related to the soft skills. This results in a huge dilemma for companies, especially for hiring managers.

As Emily Heaslip (Vervoe) stated “unfortunately, soft skills can’t be found on a resume, which is what makes hiring for them so difficult.” This means that hiring managers and companies are having to think of new interview and candidate qualifications to examine, in addition to the traditional resume. The reason? Companies have to hire with soft skills in mind in order to reduce their turnover, have successful employee retention and sustainable/increased business profits. Fortunately, “Smart companies have even begun to customize their interview process for certain soft skills that are applicable to each open position: so your extroverts become your top sales people, while your listeners join your HR team. There’s a place for both hard skills and soft skills in the workplace: it’s up to your hiring team to find the right combination for success” (Emily Heaslip, Vervoe). Hiring this way allows companies to avoid the trap of poor employee retention and potential business failure (for more information on this, visit our blogs).

While the differences in generations and skillsets may seem overwhelming, our advice is this: instead of letting the differences in the skillsets and knowledge of the generations scare you, shift your mindset to thinking about how to use the applicable skills of each generation for the right role in your company. This might include pairing a soft skilled individual with a hard skilled one, to promote mentoring and intercompany collaboration, or changing the historical hiring mechanisms. While business changes are never easy, this one will bring about the positive results and productivity businesses need, thereby promoting success for everyone, from CEOs to stakeholders to employees and more.

Sources:

  • Vervoe.com
  • QuantumMark Executive Roundtables
  • QuantumMark WhitePaper

Interested in learning more about how the skillsets of the working generations are affecting businesses? Contact our team at Kim@QuantumMark.com today!

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