Workplaces and technology have changed significantly over the past decade. Many employees operate in hybrid work environments, where they split their time between home and the office. Others work onsite or from home exclusively. There is the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Because of all of these factors, workers need new skills to navigate the shifting ways organizations are doing business these days. This applies to both public and private sector organizations.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the new essential workplace skills and the implications they have on public sector organizations. We’ll also look at how public sector agencies can foster and train their employees on the most in-demand work skills for 2022 and beyond.
Forbes compiled a list of essential workplace skills from Bernard Marr’s Book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World. Marr is a futurist and a business and technology advisor who helps organizations and governments understand the implications of new technologies and how they can use them intelligently.
He explains that today, you don’t just need technical skills—you also need critical soft skills to do the things AI and machines can’t.
Before going into Marr's top work skills, it's important to understand the difference between hard and soft skills. Most work skills fall into two distinct categories. Hard skills are gained from education, training and hands-on experience. These skills tend to be the ones that most organizations focus their training on. Hard skills include things like computer programing, typing, accounting, etc. Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal skills like time management, effective communication and adaptability.
Marr described the following skills as being among the most in-demand in workplaces for the next decade:
As you can see, the majority of these skills are soft skills. There's a reason for that. Did you know that a LinkedIn Learning Survey showed that soft skills are more important than many technical skills for senior leaders in organizations? Collaboration, creativity, resilience and empathy rank among the top soft skills organizations prefer.
So, what does all this mean for public sector organizations?
Many public sector agencies are focusing more on soft skills. Problem-solving, leadership and verbal and written communication soft skills are important for teamwork, management and situations that require critical thinking. These skills are very important for public sector organizations because these employees make a direct impact on the lives of their constituents and their communities.
For example, communication is vital within government agencies, as public officials are frequently scrutinized by the public. Civil servants like police officers and state and federal agents are more likely to need problem-solving skills, as they never know what issues they may encounter on the job.
The ability to carry out an agency's mission relies on soft skills like these, and they will only grow in significance. According to the LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 89% of HR recruiters say that often when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack certain soft skills.
Almost anyone can learn hard skills, but soft skills don’t come naturally to everyone. Clearly, training in soft skills is critical.
The 10th critical soft skill in the Forbes articles is curiosity and continuous learning. Your organization can foster this in employees with strategic training programs aimed at continuing their education. Upskilling is becoming an important training strategy for organizations. Upskilling has many benefits like employee retention, it helps you attract the right talent, and when employees know better, they perform their jobs better.
For this reason, it’s important to develop learning plans for employees based on where they see themselves in the future with your agency and their career goals. Organizations can invest in their workers' futures by giving them time to learn at work and providing them with interesting learning opportunities like conferences, seminars, lunch and learns and virtual learning.
Creating time for learning at work allows employees to learn without taking excessive time away from their families. You can also create a mix of training styles, like self-guided programs, mentorships and virtual learning. This allows employees to learn in ways that work best for them.
Your organization has a lot to gain by treating soft skills like hard skills and developing education plans to train employees in new soft skills.
While AI can do some jobs as well as—or better than—some humans, there are some skills that AI can never achieve. Your organization has much to gain by treating soft skills like hard skills and developing education plans to train employees in new soft skills. Soft skills training helps your workforce serve people and communities better, as well as helps achieve organizational goals like better employee retention.
CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country. Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients. We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.