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Soft skills now classed ‘critical’ in remote working setting

Christopher Ouizeman, CEO - Drake International

 A recent survey conducted by recruitment specialist Drake International has revealed soft skills like communication and strong work ethic are in high demand among Australian employers to accommodate long-term plans to continue working remotely. 

More than 100 respondents from a wide range of industries and roles were surveyed this February to gauge Australians’ attitude toward remote work and the skills needed to support it. 

When employees were asked how many days they would ideally like to continue working from home, nearly 60% said one to three days with only 20% preferring a return to full-time hours spent in the workplace. 

“This suggests a huge portion of workers prefer a flexible, hybrid work environment and will likely continue to be the case even when COVID is a thing of the past,” said Tanya Anderson, Recruitment Manager at Drake International.

Furthermore, the survey found that organisations that have been working remotely consider the following soft skills to be the most critical to productivity: 

  1. Communication (84.5%),
  2. work ethic (47.6%),
  3. adaptability (38.8%)
  4. and time management (38.8%)

Other desired skills include dependability (31.1%) and collaboration (30.1%) while skills of less appeal include problem solving (14.6%), emotional intelligence (13.6%), critical thinking (3.9%) and creativity with just 1.9% respondents regarding it as a ‘critical’ skill. 

“In Australia’s shift to remote work, some employers were all of a sudden witnessing some employees finding the remote work environment challenging for a number of reasons,” said Ms Anderson.

“Technical skills and abilities that allow some team members to thrive in a physical workplace quickly became less important as we saw some ‘soft skills’ became invaluable in this new autonomous environment.” 

Of the survey respondents, an overwhelming 93.3% said they would continue to prioritise the aforementioned skills in future recruitment. 

Ms Anderson concurs, suggesting “employers need to be mindful of recruiting based on certain soft skills.”

“Technical skills will remain important and continue to evolve however, with a significant shift toward hybrid working models, some soft skills have become nothing short of absolutely essential, such as communication and work ethic.”

The best way for recruiters to find these skills in potential candidates, says Ms Anderson, is through psychometric testing. 

“Psychometric assessments are necessary in recruitment today as they provide valuable insights into certain behaviours and attributes of a candidate,” said Ms Anderson.

“Employers need to understand the decision-making style, communicative qualities, energy levels and the motivation levels of candidates, as well as the ability to self-monitor.

“These are all important traits to consider when recruiting for more autonomous roles which are becoming more common as so many companies move toward a flexible hybrid working arrangement between the workplace and home.”

Ivan Tandyo, CEO and founder of 11th Space, which provides entrepreneurs with business skills required to grow their business, can attest to the benefits of psychometric testing.

“Psych testing with Drake in the interview process has really helped us find the right people and helped enormously with staff retention rates.

“It allows us to assess who will be a productive worker if the entire workforce is working remotely for a long period of time,” said Mr Tandyo. 

“Which is incredibly important to us as we work offline within our office. It means we can hire the right people which in turn improves productivity, harmony and the overall dynamic within our team.”

*Survey from Drake International

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