Top Soft Skills Companies need employees to have.

What better way to find out about the skills which employees need in the workforce today than by asking employers directly?  After all, they would know best. In January 2018, using data gathered from over 2000 business leaders, LinkedIN, the world’s largest professional network today, shared  a report on what soft skills employees need to have to succeed in the workplace.  According to the report, the following are the top rated skills:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Time Management

What are Soft Skills?

Investopedia defines Soft Skills as the “character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people”. The highlighted four skills among many others are sometimes referred to as our ‘interpersonal skills’. Other examples include: problem solving, work ethic, positive attitude, team oriented, emotional intelligence and so forth.

Why is it important to have Soft Skills in the workplace?

Emotionally based; these are the skills which characterizes a person’s relationship with others in the workplace. Being able to work well with others and maintain cordial relations in the workplace ensures that there is harmony which augurs well for both employees and employers. These skills are in high demand across jobs and industries and their importance cannot be underscored. This is recognized by leaders and policy makers across the globe. A true testament to this is Mr. Damian Hinds; the UK’s Secretary of State for Education statement relating to the importance of soft skills at a recent press interview this year in which he indicated that “I would suggest that there is nothing soft about these skills”.

Soft vs Hard Skill?

In most instances, individuals usually have the fundamental training, knowledge and abilities, otherwise known as hard skills which a job requires. However, having the relevant soft skills to compliment all these other abilities is the distinguishing factor from one employee to another; especially when opportunities such as promotion is been considered.

Quick Tip: 

As a professional, learning new skills and continuing to grow should be constant in order to stay ahead in the workplace. The world of work is evolving rapidly and so it is important as individuals that we continue to develop and upskill to keep up with the pace of these changes. If you were to conduct an assessment of yourself on the top skills identified for 2018 by LinkedIn i.e. leadership, communication, collaboration and time management, where do you think you would fall on a scale of 1-10?  Better yet, why not conduct a 360 assessment by asking your peers and manager for some feedback on these areas. The insights you gather will provide the foundation you need to work any areas for improvements which may have been highlighted.

Termination due to Redundancy ~ St. Lucia Labour Code

Times are changing especially in the labor market. Increasingly, we are seeing a rise in structural changes in organizations and as a result more people are been laid off from their jobs. Technological advancements, cost cutting measures, business closures and mergers are some of the many reasons why employers may choose or be forced to reduce their workforce.

In this article, we take a look at what the St. Lucia Labour Code constitutes are the conditions for redundancy in St. Lucia:

An employer may terminate the employment of an employee because conditions of redundancy exist which make the employee’s position redundant. Conditions for redundancy are as follows:

  • the employer has modernized, automated or mechanized all or part of the business;
  • the employer has discontinued to carry on all or part of the business
  • the employer has sold or otherwise disposed of all or part of the business;
  • the employer has reorganized all or part of the business
  • it has become impossible or impracticable for the employer to carry on all or part of the business at its usual rate or level or at all, due to –
  1. a shortage of materials
  2. a mechanical breakdown
  • an act of God; or
  • a reduced operation in all or part of the employer’s business has been made necessary by economic conditions, including a lack of or change in markets, contraction in the volume of work or sales, reduced demand or surplus inventory.

St. Lucia Labour Code No. 37 of 2006 Division 10. 145

labor law

As you read the above, the name of someone in your circle may have resonated with you, whether it is a friend, family, associate or even yourself, as an example of someone who may have been laid off based on one of the reasons stated.

As employees we have no control of the decisions that employers take in an effort to remain viable in business. The only thing that we have control of is our own talent development which we must continue to nurture and invest in. After years of working for an organization, we may once again have to go job hunting which can prove challenging.

However, if we continue to build ourselves with the right skills and knowledge, we become a force to be reckoned with in the job market and enter a state of preparedness for possible future changes.

Drive Employee Engagement with Manager Action

In far too many organizations, leaders hold the view that employee engagement is an HR survey activity they must bear once every year or two. While engagement surveys can be a good measurement tool, what really creates and drives engagement in a workplace are its leaders.

According to Gallup engaged employees are those who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Organizations invest a lot of resources such as time and money to increase employees’ engagement at work. However, research have shown that over the years there has been little to no improvement in engagement scores, in fact, engagement levels is seemingly on a slow decline. According to Gallup’s latest global research, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged on the job. The solutions to help address the issue of low engagement in organizations will vary as people issues are unique to each organization. However, converting employees from disengaged to engaged workers should be a top priority for all organizations as this can effectively increase performance and lead to sustainable long-term growth.

For this transformation to happen i.e. to get workers really committed to their jobs and the workplace, really starts with the efforts of supervisors and managers.  Managers play an important role in employee engagement as they have the most direct influence to employees. Staff motivation, satisfaction and effectiveness are some of the main responsibilities of a manager and if not taken seriously can be very damaging.

Employee engagement is not a one off event. It is an ongoing journey which has the ability to achieve high impact at both levels- individual and organizational.

yellow blue and red plastic gameboard toy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are five (5) specific actions which managers can take to maximize team engagement:

  1. Model the Way

As a manager you have a responsibility to lead. Managers need to ensure that they lead from the front and exemplify the behaviors and attitudes which they require employees to demonstrate on the job. Asking an employee to be at work on time while you breeze in an hour late does not in any way demonstrate good leadership skills or show the way with encouragement. Such actions will in fact, diminish your ability as a manager to effectively influence and keep your team motivated.

  1. Clarify Expectations and set SMART goals

Meet with each team member and jointly set goals. Ensure that team members clearly understand what is expected of them and what will be required of them to successfully meet their targets and achieve their annual goals. An employee can become much disengaged when they are not sure what is expected from them and what they need to do to get the job done. Furthermore, if for any reason goals are changed during the course of the performance period (as they sometime do), this should be immediately communicated and the way forward mutually agreed.

  1. Consistent Communication

Communication is the foundation of an engaged workforce. It is important to ensure that information is fluid and consistently shared from the top to the bottom and vice versa to reduce the obscurity of messages and elimination of inaccuracies which are typical elements of the corporate grapevine. Effective communication also ensures that employees have a good understanding of what the business goals and objectives are as well as their place in achieving it.

  1. Leverage employee strengths

One of the most powerful sources of job satisfaction comes from being able to maximize your talents, knowledge, and skills in your job. When employees are able to apply their strengths and leverage their expertise, they are more than twice as likely to be more engaged on the job.  Ensuring that employees are also aligned to jobs which allow them to grow and develop their strong areas are definitely engagement boosters.

  1. Provide adequate training and learning opportunities

Learning and development is a key driver of employee engagement.  By dedicating time and resources to employee learning and development; managers are not only growing and improving employee skills but preparing employees for future opportunities which appeals to their drive for career advancement and will help fosters employee engagement.

8 tips to get your job search started

Are you new to Job Hunting?  If you are, here are some tips to get your job search started:

  1. Create a dynamite resume
  2. Research the Job Market
  3. Send out resumes to prospective employers regularly
  4. Post applications online on company websites
  5. Drop off resumes in person
  6. Make cold calls
  7. Apply for job vacancies in line with your skill set
  8. Actively reach out to companies which you admire

How to deal with the frustrations of Job Hunting

Many job seekers start the process of job hunting with enthusiasm, only to get frustrated and dejected somewhere down the line when their expectations do not materialize quickly enough. It is important for job seekers to manage their expectations during the process as job searching can really take a toll on an individual especially if it is accompanied by a growing number of rejections.

To help make the process of job searching more manageable until you finally land that job, here are few things to consider:

#1 – Set realistic expectations

Per chance you may land a job pretty early in your job search process. If that happens to you, Congrats! However, if you are like many, you may have or will soon come to the realization that getting a job doesn’t happen as quickly as you may be expecting. Today a job search can take from 6 months to one year and sometimes even longer, regardless of how qualified you may be. It’s important for job seekers to be aware of employment trends in their local job market so that they may align their job finding expectations to current happenings in that area. By doing this, job seekers are better able to handle the ups and downs which come with searching for a job.

 #2 – Stay Positive

Every job seeker will experience highs and lows during their job search process. Remaining positive is one of the key ways to deal with frustrations which may develop during that time, especially if you’ve been job hunting for a long period of time. It is easy for you to feel like giving up during these low points. However, it is important for you to keep positive and focused on attaining your goal of landing a job. In the words of Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking):

Never allow obstacles to hinder your progress. The following are some activities which job seekers can engage in to keep motivated and active during the process:

  • Continuously develop your skills and knowledge in your area of expertise. Your professional development should not cease because you are unemployed. Look to strengthen and build on your competencies while you are searching. It will only make you more marketable in the future.
  • Grow your network by attending professional forums or sessions. See what events are happening in your country or area which may provide an avenue to make contact with established professionals in your field.
  • Engage in volunteer activities. Giving your time to nonprofit or charitable organizations provides an opportunity to utilize your talent and skills while not working. It can also open doors which may lead to employment.