Why ‘soft skills’ will stop robots taking our jobs

May 8, 2018 Carlos Rivera

One of the subjects that we are passionate about at Cornerstone is the future of work and how humans will collaborate with machines. Although there are many fears surrounding automation and how robots are taking over the world in the media – there is no reason to be alarmed. The future of automation promises more advantages than disadvantages. We just have to learn to work together.

In the UK, it is predicted that one in five jobs will be affected by automation, and although machines and robots have advanced intellectual capabilities that can far outweigh the human ones, they cannot replace us because of one simple reason: they lack emotional intelligence, which is key if we want to progress towards a future where people can make use of machines to develop and work more efficiently.

In 1995, well-known psychologist, Daniel Goleman, wrote about how emotional intelligence in humans is an innate capability, learned by socialisation. In the words of Daniel Goleman “Emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well internally and within relationships.” In today’s corporate language, we might refer to this as the “soft skills” of employees and candidates. But what are the advantages of these “soft skills” and how will they help people to be productive in the future?

Empathy, good communication, change management and leadership are examples of what constitute soft skills. When studying performance in senior leadership roles, Goleman found that leaders who possessed soft skills generated more than 90% of the difference between high and average performers. This suggests that understanding the emotions and needs of others, as well as your own, can increase people’s productivity at work since these skills open the mind to more inclusive, practical and innovative thinking.

The rapid progress towards increasingly integrated technologies and diverse environments can be difficult to navigate if you do not have the necessary tools to make sense of it all. Successful leadership and management requires a steady balance between both intellect and emotion, something robots are far from achieving.

In the wake of digital transformation, HR has focused their attention on getting employees up to speed with digital skills, forgetting about the importance of soft skills amongst the disruption. Soft skills are vital for employees to progress in their career and will eventually lead to better collaboration with machines in the future. If HR can strike the right balance between emotional and technical skills for their employees, they are sure to be prepared for what the future brings. 

About the Author

Carlos Rivera

Carlos Rivera is Regional Sales Manager for Cornerstone Spain. As an expert in technology applied to HR, he has been leading throughout his career projects of digital transformation through Talent processes.

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