Last year a study conducted by the University of Michigan and Harvard University revealed that workers who receive soft skills training are, by and large, 12 percent more productive than colleagues that don’t. The training also had a significant impact on retention which delivers obvious benefits for the business as a whole.
This is not exactly groundbreaking news. It’s a bit of a no brainer that companies employing larger numbers of people with leadership, problem-solving and people skills are more likely to succeed. So what’s the buzz suddenly around soft skills and why do they matter so much?
As opposed to hard skills or acquired knowledge, soft skills are the life skills that make us sociable, adaptable and able to communicate within and emotionally navigate our way around our working environments. You’ll often hear them referred to collectively as emotional intelligence or EQ, as opposed to IQ. In the modern workspace these interpersonal skills are more important than ever. Collaboration and communication are key to a thriving work community. And the pressure for candidates to master these soft skills is going to rise as artificial intelligence takes on so many of the roles that have traditionally relied only on hard skills and acquired learning. Basically, if you can’t rub along nicely with your colleagues and customers now, life is going to get a whole lot more challenging.
Delivering greater customer satisfaction
Clearly soft skills play an even more significant role in service industries. Last year, we conducted our own customer satisfaction survey through the VOCalis programme, led by award-winning global analysts, Digital Clarity Group.The survey called us out for our levels of customer empathy with 91% of customers that responded stating our ‘understanding of their needs’ as their key driver for working with us.
We were pleasantly surprised that this was given much higher priority than experience and skills which obviously fall into acquired skills and so are easier to find and hire. In fact, out of 8 KPIs measured in the survey, we scored highest for customer service, with one client noting that ‘they have the ability to adapt to the partner they are working with, rather than selling a one-size-fits-all approach’.
Why does this mean so much to us at Cognifide?
From senior strategists to junior developers, almost all Cognifiders will, at some stage, have interaction with our clients. They may even be working as part of a client team since we prefer to work in blended teams with our clients, sharing the same physical space. So adaptability is absolutely key to being part of the team.
Kinga Przepiórka, Head of HR at our Development Centre in Poznan, sums up our approach to finding and nurturing those soft skills in the workforce:
‘Soft skills are our main focus during the recruitment process. Many people are terrific technical specialists, but we look for individuals that see the project from a wider perspective. We analyse a candidate’s experience and competencies to make sure that she or he will be able to understand a customer’s needs and apply them to specific project tasks. Our developers see the business justification in each piece of code that they write. This creates teams that encourage each other to discover new paths, aim for smart and agile answers and really enjoy their work at the same time’.
When we started our VOCalis journey with Digital Clarity Group at the beginning of 2017, we weren’t sure what they’d uncover. It’s fairly scary to put your neck on the line and ask your customers for their opinion, warts and all. So it was great to discover at the beginning of this year that we’d come out on top. Having interviewed the leaders of hundreds of companies on the performance of more than 40 Adobe Experience Manager implementation agencies, DCG awarded Cognifide the first-ever and only VOCalis award. It’s fantastic to know that our focus on soft skills is paying dividends for our clients.