Discover the crucial balance between hard skills and soft skills in your workforce. Explore why employees thrive with both.
Discover the crucial balance between hard skills and soft skills in your workforce. Explore why employees thrive with both.

The essential differences between hard and soft skills lie in their nature and assessment methods. Hard skills encompass tangible, measurable abilities like coding or accounting, typically acquired through education and training. On the other hand, soft skills entail interpersonal and communication abilities, emotional intelligence, and leadership qualities crucial for effective collaboration and problem-solving in the workplace. While hard skills are easily measurable, soft skills are subjective and harder to quantify.

Integrating both competencies is crucial for creating a comprehensive and satisfying work environment. Optimal employee experience involves nurturing both hard and soft skills to enable employees to collaborate effectively, make decisions, and grow both individually and as part of a team.

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

The distinction between soft and hard skills lies in their application and measurement. Soft skills are behavioral and interpersonal, enhancing teamwork and communication but are harder to quantify. Conversely, hard skills are specific to roles, quantifiable, and directly related to job tasks.

Soft skills: a small nuance that makes a big difference

Soft skills include interpersonal, social, and emotional abilities facilitating effective communication, collaboration, stress management, conflict resolution, and adaptation to change. They are essential not only for specific roles but for all positions and aspects of life, making them invaluable for career success.

However, it’s essential not to confuse soft skills with social skills, which primarily concern personal or social interactions.

Specific examples of soft business skills:

  • A sales representative using communication skills to persuade a client to sign a contract.
  • A manager leveraging interpersonal skills to motivate the team and improve group collaboration.
  • A programmer utilizing flexibility to adapt to a new programming language.
  • An assistant employing organizational skills to manage both their and their supervisor’s schedule.

Hard skills: significant technical advantage

Hard skills refer to specialized technical or academic knowledge acquired through training or professional experience. Unlike soft skills, hard skills are relatively easy to learn, quantify, and apply directly to job roles.

Examples of hard skills in business:

  • A programmer utilizing programming knowledge to develop new software.
  • A secretary using typing speed to fulfill employer-assigned tasks.
  • An accountant applying accounting skills to manage the company’s finances.
  • A marketing strategist leveraging SEO skills to attract new website visitors.

Although both types of competencies are essential, technical skills usually hold more significance early in one’s career due to their necessity for task completion. Hard skills are indispensable and generally hold significant value in the job market, representing limited know-how as they do not encompass interpersonal interactions.

Why is it important to develop these two types of competencies in your employees?

Developing both types of competencies in employees is crucial for enhancing productivity. After all, technical skills are of little use without the interpersonal skills needed to apply them effectively.

For instance, a person may excel in technical work but struggle to communicate effectively with team members, thereby reducing their effectiveness.

Likewise, someone with excellent interpersonal skills may struggle with using tools and software efficiently. While essential, they don’t necessarily aid in becoming more creative or collaborative with others. This is where behavioral skills come into play. They’re essential for good communication, collaboration, and innovation. In other words, they help your employees work better together and be more creative in problem-solving.
That’s why it’s essential to develop both types of competencies in your employees.

How can you do that?

To develop your employees’ behavioral skills:

  • Encourage them to take risks.
  • Motivate them to learn from their mistakes.
  • Help them develop a shared vision.
  • Foster creativity and innovation.

To improve your employees’ technical skills:

  • Provide them with a stimulating work environment.
  • Encourage them to learn new things.
  • Motivate them to be curious.
  • Help them develop professionally.

How to develop both skills in your company?

Career development is one way to equip them with the necessary tools to perform their daily tasks. This includes everything related to learning, such as understanding the principles and procedures applicable within the company or courses on using specific tools. You need this to develop hard skills!

On the other hand, developing soft skills aims to improve employee performance by providing them with the tools and opportunities they need. This can be done through training, but also through mentoring or professional development programs.

It is important to understand that skills development is a continuous learning process. It never ends. In other words, investing in employees is a long-term investment. It is important to provide team members with the opportunity to combine training and development.

Using online surveys to build employees’ skills

Using online surveys can be very helpful in building both hard and soft skills in the workplace. Here are a few ways online surveys can support skill development:

  • Assessing the level of knowledge and hard skills competencies: Online surveys can assess employees’ technical knowledge and skills in various areas, such as familiarity with tools and technologies, programming skills, or knowledge of internal company procedures and policies. This allows HR management and team leaders to identify further development areas and tailor training programs accordingly.
  • Collecting opinions and feedback: Online surveys can be used to gather opinions and feedback on work, projects, or processes in the workplace. This allows employees to express their views on the effectiveness of actions, and leaders can better understand areas for improvement. This, in turn, supports the development of soft skills such as communication skills and relationship management.
  • Sharing knowledge and experience: Online surveys can be used to promote organizational culture, knowledge sharing, and experience within the organization. Employees can create surveys related to their specialization or area of expertise and share them with other team members or department. This way, other employees can learn from each other and develop hard skills in their field.
  • Tracking progress in personal development: Online surveys can be used to track progress in employees’ personal and professional development. Regular surveying allows employees to monitor their own development, set goals, and track progress. This supports the development of both hard and soft skills through systematic knowledge and skills expansion and conscious efforts to improve.

By utilizing online surveys, companies can effectively support the development of both skills, contributing to the overall growth and success of their employees and the organization as a whole.