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23 de February de 2024
Something important is cooking in the labour market — a change of paradigm. Previously reliable structures are becoming unstable; our own way of living mutates and adapts to the new times. Even before the pandemic hit, experts and companies were redesigning the soft skills catalogue that workers of the future were going to need. These past two years have been crucial for speeding up the process even more.
It’s clear that changes are taking place increasingly faster and exhaustion has played its part. A clear example of this is the United State’s Great Resignation —also known as the Big Quit—, which also had an effect on some European countries. Between March and July 2021, approximately 12 million employees left their jobs, looking for jobs that would better adjust to the way in which they see life and to the new ideas that were blossoming. This process, as a by-product or a result of the pandemic, speaks about a context in which priorities and their way of existing inside a company, are constantly changing.
Context gives birth skills. In other words, the soft skills that workers and leaders need vary according to the different circumstances — through adaptation and modifications. That’s why it’s important to understand the world around us.
Until recently, resources management departments had been using a term coined in the 90s by the American army in order to describe society and the business context in which we move: VUCA, which is an acronym that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
However, the pandemic seems to have shaken even VUCA. Experts are starting to talk about BANI environments: Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, and Incomprehensible. Understanding this new framework is important in order to know what is required from us as professionals beyond our technical capacities.
The two main things that have changed (as precarious as they may have already been) are the stability and certainties of the labour market and the different labour channels. We have changed from controlled and familiar environments, in physical spaces, with daily contact with our circle, to a fast digitalisation in which every contact gets digitalised and connections are lost. Experts are aware that this context gives place to frustration and anxiety. That’s why, these new times require new skills both in workers and leaders; bearing in mind that dynamics are changing too. The Big Quit has taught us that employees —especially young ones— don’t want unbreakable attachments with companies. They’re dynamic and open to change. In addition, society is starting to have a different relationship with work. For example, burn out has been catalogued as a occupational phenomenon.
Soft skills are gaining importance in the selection process. Even though they cannot be quantified —unlike professional studies or techniques—, companies are starting to look for employees that better adjust to the environment through these types of abilities
Leadership begins with self-leadership. All of us can pick up on the skills that better reflect and respond to the environment in which we move. Of course, there are many skills that are innate, but they can also be developed. The academic world has always turned its back to these kinds of non technical studies, but there’s an increasing number of voices that are giving soft skills the importance they deserve and there are more and more companies that invest in this.
Flexibility, creativity and critical thinking are some of the most in demand soft skills in a world that has started to navigate a sea of uncertainties.