4 Reasons businesses should prioritise developing soft skills as much as developing technology
Over the last two decades, companies have seen incredible development in technology across all sectors. Tech has made it possible to expand globally, build state-of-the-art websites and promote our brands to the digital world. But this wave of tech has caused companies to forget who is behind the screens of all this innovation: people. Companies have moved too far towards being data-centric and away from a human focus and it will be detrimental for our future.
Humans are still one of the most impactful factors for any business. The most innovative businesses such as Facebook, Google, and Yelp have long seen the benefits of a people-focused business model and are already investing in the development, advancement and futures of their employees (1).
Keeping up to date with advancements in tech is important today but when it comes to a company’s long-term growth and future success, here are four reasons why humans are still the best investment.
Humans are the biggest factor for productivity
It is true that technology has had a miraculous effect on streamlining workflow and efficiency, but great productivity has always come from humans invested in a company’s purpose and aligned with its goals. Soft skills such as motivation, creative thinking and problem-solving have a drastic effect on a company’s productivity (1). Every year businesses lose $7 trillion due to lack of productivity across the world because organisations are systematically underinvesting in the personal development of their human capital (2). Shifting focus away from tech and putting the development of an organisation’s people back in the spotlight will drastically improve productivity.
People are the highest business cost – so, invest in them
It is counterintuitive, but it is true; companies are not investing in the development of their highest cost factor: their people. If human capital is a company’s biggest expense, costing most organisations as much as 70% of total business costs, employees should be business’ most important asset, yet many companies are now spending a larger proportion of their budgets on technology than on internal staff. (3) The lack of focus on developing a company’s human capital is costing organisations even more in terms of staff turnover. Investing in the personal development of staff increases employee’s morale, encouraging current talent to remain in a business for longer and attracting new talent to a company. Recognising that employees are an active investment is often the difference between a company’s success and its failure (4).
Customers respond better to humans than to tech
As dependent on technology as most consumers are, trust and human interaction are still integral factors when it comes to making a purchase or an investment. According to a study by Google (5), 60% of consumers still prefer to speak to a person when they reach the purchase phase of a buying cycle. Building trust and relationships between companies and clients is an essential component of the sales process that can only be achieved through human connection with employees with strong interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills are more effective than tech skills in many domains
Sales isn’t the only sector in which humans thrive over tech. The rise of client-facing chatbots has not been kind to customer service. A study by learning and outsource company CGS found that nearly 50% of consumers would prefer to communicate a question or concern over a conversation with a real person over a company’s chatbot (6).
Technology plays a role in virtually every job in today’s modern workplace but the focus on tech and the skills that come with it has caused a glaring gap in the areas within companies that require more than a few lines of code. The demand for soft skills such as communication, empathy, creativity, strategic thinking, and imagination is on the rise. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020 soft skills be 40% more crucial to the success of businesses everywhere (7). Luckily for us humans the skills of the future are the skills we are far more adept and effective in than technology can ever be.
Over the coming years, global businesses will continue to see changes and innovations that will cause the technology we use today to become obsolete before our eyes. Keeping up to date with the latest tech will be important for businesses to stay relevant but investing in the development and growth of the people at the heart of an organisation will be the difference between a company flourishing in the future or being left in the digital dust.
About the author:
Thomas Buus Madsen is the COO and co-founder of Bookboon – the World’s most used eLibrary for Corporate Learning. By making its soft skills eLibrary incredibly easy to use and only publishing industry-leading experts, Bookboon boasts some of the highest usage rates in the digital learning sector.