About one-third of future work skills that have been essential during the last five years for companies are set to undergo significant changes now, inspired by technological and social progress. We transform processes, adopt automation, migrate data, and deal with new pandemic challenges. The world is evolving, and organizations can’t remain the same to keep up with the demanding business landscape.
So how can organizations stay ahead of the curve and ensure stability and bonanza? Start by reskilling and upskilling your employees — the heart and driving force of any business. For this article, we at TEAM International have analyzed the market and upcoming trends to identify the top five most in-demand skills for the future that business executives and managers should keep in mind to stay in the game and thrive despite any possible challenges.
The global job market faces a reset. What are the key factors reshaping our working future?
To predict what future work skills will be crucial for companies, we should start by determining what social and technological agents influence the business sector today. Admittedly, intelligent automation and digital business transformation are among the most prominent disruptive forces that impact businesses today. Moreover, we can hardly ignore the rise and proliferation of:
- machine learning and artificial intelligence;
- gig economy;
- ‘as-a-Service’ and other innovative business models;
- temporary and permanent telecommuting.
Needless to say, the implementation of innovative technologies and the transition to new business concepts have been hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdowns. All these factors are already changing the way we work. Consequently, our primary responsibility now is to adapt, educate, and reskill our workforces to deal with the upcoming changes.
Top five vital skills of the future your workforce should have
#1 Human intelligence and decision-making
Can the rise of software robots and other innovative solutions replace the human workforce and lead to mass layoffs? This question is quite popular today and even makes some people worry about it seriously. But the truth is that bots can take over most routine tasks and let staff members focus on more value-generating tasks. With advanced technologies, businesses can process large data volumes at lightning speed, streamline processes, and boost employee performance, but bots can’t replace human intelligence and decision-making skills.
In the future, we expect that there will be a great demand for sense-making and critical thinking skills that can’t be codified. Artificial intelligence machines make their decisions based on historical data, past events, and analysis, but they lack common sense and a holistic human approach. For example, AI-led systems can help healthcare providers harvest and process data, but they can fail in decision-making.
We can’t solely rely on technologies while choosing a treatment scheme for a particular patient since we need rational thinking. One of the cases worth mentioning here is the situation with the IBM Watson supercomputer that suggested wrong and unsafe cancer treatment that could lead to terrible consequences. To sum up, artificial intelligence can’t replace human intelligence, but it can help us make effective decisions faster. Thus, decision-making is what businesses need to start promoting today as one of the best skills to learn for the future.
#2 Adaptive thinking and complex problem-solving
In today’s quickly evolving world, the need for an adaptive mindset and novel thinking is greater than ever before. Business executives, managers, and frontline employees should be able to not only recognize but anticipate sudden changes, take immediate actions, and come up with a workable solution to weather the storm.
Not so long ago, we’ve all experienced the COVID-19 disaster, and let’s face it — we weren’t ready for it. However, this pandemic is a perfect example of how adaptive thinking is crucial for business continuity. For instance, consider how healthcare organizations managed to shift from offline appointments to remote care via telehealth apps or how retailers switched to contactless online shopping. Such a quick response to external changes allowed them to not only stabilize business shortly but to thrive in the long run. Gaining and advancing adaptive thinking skills can help you overcome difficulties, keep moving forward, and prosper despite all the challenges.
#3 Social intelligence and virtual collaboration
Effective communication between employees has always been an integral part of successful team collaboration. And especially now, amidst permanent telecommuting, it’s vital for companies to ensure sufficient virtual collaboration. Therefore, social intelligence is what companies need to promote and nurture among workers to achieve effective teamwork and meet the desired goals.
Social intelligence is a set of various abilities that determine social interactions at work or at home. These future work skills include the capability to understand others’ behavior, own behavior patterns, and the ability to act under certain conditions. Besides, social intelligence is directly interrelated with communication and empathy — the most in-demand soft skills today.
Consequently, social intelligence is worth considering, especially by those organizations that strive to build a productive team with strong social-emotional and interpersonal skills for the future.
#4 Cognitive load management
Nowadays, the world is overwhelmed with data coming from various devices and apps every other second. And over the years, it becomes more and more challenging to filter that information according to its importance and avoid infoxication at work. Consequently, cognitive load management skill quickly gains traction, and very soon is expected to become one of the essential future work skills for any team.
In the foreseeable future, people will have to find their own ways to cope with informational abundance, sift through data, and focus on what really matters. Additionally, workers get enough energy and space to break their current conceptual limits and broaden their mindset and creativity by balancing their cognitive load.
#5 Organization-wide service orientation
Having strong service orientation skills is the ability to understand customers’ needs today, anticipate them, and take proactive actions to meet them in the future. In today’s hyper-connected digital world, business success is often determined by the number of satisfied customers and their covered needs. Consequently, it’s hardly surprising that service orientation becomes one of the basic skills for entrepreneurs, managers, and frontline employees.
These days, to stay relevant, companies should continually analyze the market, detect gaps, or identify new customers’ preferences, translate them into actual products or service offerings even before a massive demand arises. Service orientation skills also presuppose walking in users’ shoes to realize their fears, values, and motivators to develop next-generation services or products and gain a strong competitive advantage.
The actions we take today will determine our future of work
Only a few years ago, news sites were riddled with headlines telling that bots and artificial intelligence will take over jobs and cause mass layoffs. Although the distant future is still dubious, and the COVID-19 outbreak makes things even harder for all of us, our experience shows that so far, cognitive technologies have created more jobs than terminated. Moreover, they unleash new opportunities for both employees and businesses.
Companies that strive to be successful in the future should be able to navigate the rapidly changing business landscape and upskill their staff members to fit in the new conditions that these changes dictate. Even today, workers are already expected to be lifelong learners and responsive professionals able to adapt to various difficulties or emergencies.
At the same time, managers and HR specialists will need to reconsider traditional approaches to evaluate the most in-demand skills for the future and change the way new talents are selected.