When you graduate from your Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, you may find that employers emphasize specific soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and flexibility in many job posts. Years of research have demonstrated the importance of soft skills in an organization and their benefits to the culture, employee performance and the bottom line.
An organization can attract top talent with superior hard skills, qualifications and accomplishments, but if its employees cannot engage well with one another and with customers and stakeholders, the whole will be less than the sum of its parts. Soft skills enable individuals to come together as teams and organizations to succeed.
On an individual level, soft skills are about who people are, rather than what they have to offer. These abilities enable individuals to interact successfully with others. They include high character and interpersonal skills — specifically, capabilities like communication, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, organization, conflict resolution, time management, flexibility and leadership. These are skills that transfer across job roles and industries.
Employers increasingly value soft skills because they are difficult to develop in a workplace environment. Soft skills are best developed individually and through education. The MBA in Human Resource Management online program from Northwest Missouri State University (NWMSU) provides opportunities for soft-skill development throughout the curriculum.
Here are just a few of the ways that soft skills help to improve performance in an organization:
Improve Communication and Teamwork
According to SHRM, miscommunication costs companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. With strong communication and teamwork skills, professionals can interact effectively with one another and with clients. They empathize with others, express themselves verbally and in writing, and are easily understood. They listen well and can effectively handle difficult conversations, enabling them to collaborate well in group projects, be diplomatic and persuasive and skillfully disagree without causing conflict.
Help Individuals Identify Talents and Improve Skill Proficiency
Managers develop their abilities to identify, coach, train and develop their employees’ talents in an MBA program. They also learn about organizational behavior and the impact their contributions have on team performance. Without managers who can help their employees reach their maximum potential, an organization cannot succeed. Manager-employee working relationships are the root of employee development.
Enable Flexibility and Adaptability
Just as the pandemic changed how many professionals work, globalization and innovation continue to force more change and ambiguity in the workplace. Employers need to know that their workers can handle changes and have developed the skills to be flexible and adaptable in business environments, processes and tools.
Improve Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
These skills enable professionals to proactively anticipate problems, develop solutions and creatively devise alternative fixes. Professionals with these skills effectively apply research and analysis. These skills would allow people to “think outside the box,” which opens possibilities for innovation and smarter decision-making.
Boost Employee Retention
Employees remain loyal to their companies when they are happy and engaged. That requires enjoying their work and having productive and rewarding relationships with peers and superiors. When an entire team of people with well-developed soft skills comes together, it is a good bet that everyone will enjoy pooling resources. Fewer conflicts will arise, and individuals will grow in their own careers. A culture that hires for soft skills will usually see a significant advantage over competitors in employee retention and continue to attract talent based on a reputation for a positive culture.
Reduce Hiring and Training Costs
In a positive workplace culture developed through pervasive soft skills, managers effectively train employees, and their subordinates learn more easily without being impeded by stress. Peers are more willingly to teach one another, seeing each other as teammates rather than competitors. This activity happens more naturally and efficiently during day-to-day routines. That tends to lower training costs, as employees develop more quickly because of the culture. It also reduces hiring costs because higher retention reduces the frequency and costs of employee replacement, as well as the onboarding and training of new employees.
These benefits filter down to a company’s bottom line in myriad ways, including improved employee and team performance. Practices that result in such improvements throughout an organization tend to positively impact performance. An advanced business degree in human resources management can give professionals the skills to improve an organization’s overall bottom line.