automation and soft skills

Automation and the resurgence of soft skills

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We’re entering a new era for the workplace. With the rise of automation software and its increasingly advanced capabilities, the way we work is evolving before us. But how exactly do future human workers fit into the automated workplace?

The robotic rise is driving, perhaps conversely, a demand for humanity. As automation grows capable of more and more functions, the importance of softer skills (exclusive to humans) is growing in parallel.

Is this set to fuel a resurgence of soft skills in the workplace?

Rise of automation

Machines and computers are handling more and more tasks and functions within our workplaces. As with any change and technological advancement, automation comes with its fair share of benefits, but also concerns and controversy.

Automation takes away repetitive, boring functions. In doing so, it streamlines the completion of the more complex tasks for your team. For example, it can make sure that queries are routed correctly, or automatically handle data entry.

Unfortunately, this leaves some employees fearing for their jobs. They don’t feel supported by the technology, and struggle to recognize how it benefits them. This is known as automation anxiety. It tends to happen when team members aren’t prepared for the changes that are coming.

Preparing, is in part, down to making sure you and your team members can fill the gaps that automation leaves. Many think that this stops at being ready to complete harder, higher value work.

However, a key aspect of the workplace that automation doesn’t cover is the need for soft skills. In fact, nurturing your soft skills helps before, during and after the implementation of automation into your workplace.

The rise of soft skills

Soft skills cover a variety of interpersonal abilities, from the way you communicate with others, to the way that you handle change. They include attributes such as teamwork and leadership, courtesy, and integrity.

Such skills are invaluable for interacting with colleagues and customers. So, honing these interpersonal abilities can help businesses address any pre-automation concerns and communicate its benefits more effectively.

Meanwhile, soft skills such as flexibility, work ethic and responsibility are important for maintaining a high work standard. These skills are much-needed in a shifting environment. Open-mindedness and motivation help employees adapt to the changes brought by automation. A willingness to engage with new tasks and workloads is instrumental in transitioning to the automated workplace.

Post-automation, emphasising the importance of soft skills can lead to benefits across the board. Effective soft skills mean customers benefit from an empathetic, personable customer experience. So, this can be a differentiating factor in an increasingly automated business landscape.

Soft skills, automation and the workplace

Automation enables human workers to partake in new tasks and challenges. A positive attitude to these changes can help to reduce the likelihood of automation anxiety. By encouraging and nurturing their soft skills, team members can feel more able and confident to adapt to the new tasks within their job.

A sense of job security is added by encouraging soft skills. Soft skills are not something that automation can replicate. So, human team members that nurture their communication and understanding have an advantage in the era of automation.

It’s like a chatbot – you let the machine do the simple stuff, but you still need a human on hand to handle the nuanced conversations.

Soft skills, automation and your customers

The benefits of embracing soft skills in the age of automation also extend to your customers. Good interpersonal skills (such as empathy) make for better customer service. Such soft skills mean that customers feel understood and listened to — which can be validating when you’re upset or have a complaint.

Ease of conversation allowed by good soft skills creates a smooth experience, while a friendly and courteous manner encourages satisfied customers. So, while automation helps your team motor through processes to help customers, they create the experience with their soft skills.

In other words, the importance of the human touch means that automation can’t replace customer service teams. This means less automation anxiety for them, and a better experience for your customers.

The resurgence of soft skills

A common reassurance is that automation won’t lead to the loss of jobs, but their evolution. Human workers will be handling more fulfilling, higher value work. (The kind of work we can’t effectively automate.) And a key part of that lies in soft skills.

A resurgence in soft skills would not mean that the importance of ‘hard’ job-specific skills will fall by the wayside. But the importance of balancing these types of skills is only set to grow alongside the rise of automation.

So, be friendly, flexible, responsible and conscientious, and you might find the automated workplace isn’t so bad after all.

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Niamh Reed is a copywriter for Parker Software – a UK software house specialising in providing business process automation and live chat software worldwide.