Top 10 Soft Skills Your Team Need in 2024 + Expert Tips

Improving soft skills in employees is important for personal growth and the economy. According to a recent Wiley Survey, the skills gap could leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled from 2018 to 2028, highlighting a growing divide between the skills needed and those available in the workforce​.

In tech sectors, 65% of companies say they have a skills gap, compared to 28% in non-tech sectors. Additionally, 60% of employers believe they must hire and train at the same time to fix this problem. This shows the importance of developing these skills in-house with tools like corporate e-learning programs.

This backdrop of skills shortages across industries underlines the importance of soft skills in maintaining a competitive and efficient workforce.

Best Soft Skills for Employees 

Let’s explore the best soft skills that both employees and organizations greatly value. These skills are crucial for personal and professional growth, contributing significantly to a productive and harmonious workplace. Additionally, we’ve incorporated specific actions to maximize their effectiveness.

Meanwhile, consider exploring these highly-rated soft skill training courses that offer certifications, which you can recommend to your team for their professional development.

1. Effective communication

Clear and persuasive communication is essential not just for leaders but for all employees. The ability to articulate ideas clearly, listen actively, and provide constructive feedback enhances teamwork and overall workplace efficiency.

“In our own experience, we've seen that strong communication, both written and verbal, helps keep everyone on the same page and avoids misunderstandings. Also, encouraging active listening and open dialogue creates a safe space, allowing team members to share ideas freely.”

Rahul Vij, CEO, Webspero

Here’s what you can implement in your organization.

  • Practice active listening: Encourage employees to fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said in conversations.
  • Provide communication training: Offer workshops that focus on verbal and non-verbal communication skills, such as body language and tone.
  • Implement regular feedback sessions: Create opportunities for employees to give and receive constructive feedback on their communication styles.

“Encouraging open feedback and celebrating successes has also significantly boosted team morale and effectiveness.”

Rohit Maheshwari, Co-Founder, NMG Technologies

2. Emotional intelligence

High emotional intelligence is crucial for understanding one’s own emotions and those of colleagues. This fosters a workplace that values empathy and respect, enhancing collaboration and reducing conflicts.

A study revealed that 90% of top performers possess high emotional intelligence, demonstrating a significant correlation between emotional intelligence and job performance.

“We engage in regular soft skills workshops focusing on areas such as emotional intelligence and leadership. These sessions help team members understand and manage their emotions, enhancing their interactions and leadership capabilities within the team. For instance, after introducing emotional intelligence workshops, we noticed an improvement in team morale and a decrease in conflicts, directly contributing to a more efficient and harmonious work environment. These methods have proven instrumental in aligning team dynamics with the requirements of the digital marketing industry.”

Haiko de Poel, Owner, Mass Impact
  • Conduct emotional intelligence workshops: Facilitate training sessions that teach employees how to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions and those of others.
  • Promote mindfulness practices: Encourage practices like meditation and mindfulness to help employees gain better control over their thoughts and feelings.
  • Create a supportive environment: Foster a workplace that openly discusses emotions and provides support for emotional development.

3. Conflict resolution

Employees at every level benefit from strong conflict resolution skills. Being able to handle disagreements constructively leads to a healthier work environment and turns potential obstacles into opportunities for growth.

  • Role-play scenarios: Use role-playing exercises to practice conflict resolution strategies in a controlled, low-risk environment.
  • Develop clear conflict policies: Establish and communicate clear guidelines for managing conflicts in the workplace.
  • Train in negotiation techniques: Provide training in negotiation to equip employees with the skills needed to compromise and find solutions beneficial to all parties involved.

4. Innovative thinking

Encouraging employees to think creatively and embrace change can drive innovation throughout the organization. It’s important for all team members to feel empowered to share new ideas.

  • Encourage brainstorming sessions: Regularly schedule sessions that allow employees to freely share innovative ideas without judgment.
  • Support risk-taking: Create a safe environment where taking calculated risks is encouraged, and failures are seen as a part of the learning process.
  • Offer innovation rewards: Recognize and reward employees who contribute unique ideas or solutions that improve the company. and take calculated risks.

“Another effective strategy we employed was the implementation of regular "Innovation Days" at Anthem Business Software. These were days where team members from different departments came together to brainstorm solutions to company challenges while simultaneously improving their collaborative and creative thinking skills. This not only led to innovative solutions for the company but also supported a culture of teamwork and continuous learning, which are essential for adapting to the changing tech landscape.”

Adam Degraide, CEO, Bambamtastic

5. Team building

Building strong relationships within the team is essential for all members. Activities that enhance team cohesion ensure that everyone is aligned with the organization’s goals and works effectively together.

  • Organize team activities: Plan regular team-building activities that are both fun and encourage collaboration.
  • Promote cross-departmental projects: Encourage collaboration across different departments to enhance team cohesion and broaden perspectives.

Related article: 10 Innovative Strategies to Enhance Team Collaboration

“One key strategy we employ is the facilitation of cross-departmental project teams. This setup allows team members from different technical and cultural backgrounds to collaborate, which naturally fosters the development of communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. This interdepartmental interaction has been instrumental during the rollout of our SmartRestroom technology, where diverse ideas needed to converge to create a user-friendly and robust system.”

Tracy Davis, Founder & CEO, TRAX Analytics
  • Create mentorship programs: Pair less experienced employees with mentors to foster relationships and teamwork.

“We prioritize mentorship programs where more experienced staff guide newer team members, not only in technical skills but in managing client interactions and fostering teamwork. This has significantly enhanced our organizational culture, making it more inclusive and supportive, and has been vital in building resilient teams that can adapt to the constantly changing demands of the facility services industry.”

Austin Jones, CEO, Millennium Facility Services

6. Adaptability and flexibility

The workforce must be adaptable, adjusting quickly to new situations or changes in the workplace. Flexibility in handling tasks and solving problems is critical for all employees to keep pace with evolving business needs.

  • Simulate change management: Train employees on how to handle change by using simulations or scenario planning.
  • Encourage skills development: Promote continuous learning and the development of new skills that allow employees to adapt to various roles or challenges.
  • Foster a culture of flexibility: Encourage managers to lead by example by being flexible in their approaches and decision-making.

7. Diversity and inclusion

Promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace benefits everyone. Employees who are skilled in embracing diversity can leverage varied perspectives and experiences to enhance team performance and drive innovation.

  • Implement bias training: Provide training to help employees recognize and reduce unconscious biases.
  • Celebrate cultural diversity: Organize events and activities that celebrate various cultures and perspectives within the company.
  • Establish diversity committees: Form committees that focus on developing policies and strategies to enhance diversity and inclusion.

8. Strategic thinking

All employees can contribute to the organization’s success by understanding and aligning with its strategic goals. Strategic thinking involves considering the long-term impact of daily tasks and decisions.

  • Teach strategic planning frameworks: Offer training on strategic frameworks like SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis or OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
  • Encourage forward thinking: Promote activities that require long-term planning and foresight, such as project management and goal-setting workshops.
  • Use case studies: Utilize real-world case studies that require employees to think and plan strategically.

“Another practice that has yielded significant benefits is the incorporation of team-building activities that focus on problem-solving and strategic thinking. These activities are not only fun but they simulate stress and require team members to rely on their soft skills to navigate challenges. This approach has been instrumental during strategic shifts within our business where adaptability and innovative thinking are required. For example, during the restructuring of our marketing strategy, input and creativity from these sessions played a crucial role in smooth transitioning and ultimately in achieving revenue growth of over $18 million in 2021.”

Jonathan Stowell, CEO, Five Guys Roofing

9. Resilience

Resilience in the workplace refers to the ability of employees to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changing conditions, and persevere through challenges. This soft skill is crucial as it enables individuals to handle stress and uncertainty without losing momentum. Cultivating resilience can lead to improved mental health, higher job satisfaction, and greater productivity.

  • Stress management workshops: Offer workshops that teach techniques for managing stress and bouncing back from setbacks.
  • Promote a work-life balance: Encourage practices that help maintain a healthy work-life balance, such as flexible working hours and mindfulness activities.
  • Support networks: Create support groups or buddy systems that provide emotional and professional support during challenging times.

10. Critical thinking

Critical thinking involves analyzing facts to understand a problem or topic thoroughly. It is a vital soft skill that empowers employees to make decisions, solve problems effectively, and avoid jumping to conclusions. 

Critical thinkers are also better equipped to handle complex situations in the workplace and can contribute significantly to innovative and strategic outcomes.

  • Problem-solving workshops: Conduct sessions that focus on developing problem-solving skills through real-life scenarios and challenges.
  • Encourage questioning: Foster an environment where employees are encouraged to ask questions and think critically about the answers they receive.
  • Use analytical tools: Introduce tools and techniques that aid in analyzing data and making informed decisions, such as statistical software or critical thinking frameworks.

There are many soft skills today that one must learn, and you can start implementing soft skill programs that are in demand in the workplace.

a small team developing their soft skills

Expert Tips on How to Develop Soft Skills Among Your Team Members 

These expert tips will guide you in enhancing the soft skills of your team. 

1. Give them autonomy 

“Help your team develop soft skills by giving them as much autonomy as possible in their workflows. Eliminate unnecessary meetings, let them block their own schedules, and teach them how to use time management tools or the Eisenhower Matrix so they can set their own priorities. Encourage them to track their time retrospectively, too, to see where their time goes and where it could be better utilized. It won’t be a perfect process, but they’ll learn far more from their mistakes than they will from micromanagement.”

Colt Agar, Organic Marketing Lead, Red Stag Fulfillment

2. Lead by example

“In developing soft skills within my team at Omniconvert, active listening emerged as the keystone. I encourage open dialogue, where every member feels valued and understood, fostering a culture of mutual respect and empathy. This approach not only improved our internal communications but also reflected positively in our customer interactions, elevating the overall customer experience. I personally lead by example, showing vulnerability and authenticity in my leadership, which, in turn, empowers my team to share ideas freely and collaborate more effectively. Drawing from our successes, I believe that embedding soft skills into the core of team dynamics is essential for any organization aiming for long-term success and innovation.”

Radu Valentin, CEO, Omniconvert

3. Host quarterly skill-focused workshops

“We've hosted quarterly "Skill Sprints," focused workshops aimed at refining specific soft skills such as active listening, conflict resolution, and effective communication. By dedicating time to practice these skills in a controlled environment, our team members can translate them more effectively into their daily interactions. For example, after a recent Skill Sprint focusing on empathetic communication, we noticed a significant improvement in customer feedback regarding service experiences.”

Dylan Cleppe, Co-Founder & CEO, OneStop Northwest

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can I identify which soft skills my team needs to develop?

Start by observing team interactions and reviewing performance feedback. Surveys or 360-degree feedback methods can also help identify areas needing improvement.

What are some effective ways to develop communication skills in a team?

Regular team meetings, communication workshops, and role-playing scenarios can enhance your team’s communication skills.

Can soft skills be measured?

Yes, through behavioral observations, feedback, and specific assessment tools designed to measure emotional intelligence, communication proficiency, and other interpersonal skills.

Can developing soft skills help in reducing employee turnover?

Yes, investing in soft skills training can lead to higher job satisfaction and engagement, which are key factors in reducing turnover.

How often should soft skills training be conducted?

Soft skills development should be an ongoing process, ideally incorporating regular workshops, yearly refreshers, continuous on-the-job coaching, and the flexibility of online, on-demand courses. These courses offer the convenience of self-paced learning, allowing team members to develop skills as their schedules permit, enhancing learning outcomes and retention

Key Takeaways 

By cultivating these essential soft skills, employees can significantly enhance their effectiveness and adaptability, contributing to the overall growth and dynamism of the organization. Training programs designed to develop these competencies equip employees with the tools they need to excel in their roles and help drive the organization towards its strategic objectives.

For businesses seeking to enhance team skills and productivity, Skill Success Teams offers a dynamic and comprehensive e-learning platform. It provides customizable learning paths, interactive media, and up-to-date content tailored to meet the diverse needs and career goals of modern workforces. Explore these tailored corporate e-learning solutions to propel your organization toward success.

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