8 Soft Skills For The Future Workplace

Decades ago, research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center have all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and just 15% are knowledge-based skills. What’s changed, however, is the speed at which those soft skills need to be learned. Their importance in today’s workplace is evident and, with the lubricants industry’s current skill shortage, these types of personal traits are even more sought after. 

During the Lubrication Expert podcast episode, Rafe Britton and James Moorhouse have touched on the topic of the future of jobs in the lubricants industry. Today we’d like to explore soft skills lubricants professionals need to position themselves in the direction the market is growing in years ahead.

The rise of soft skills needed in the workplace

According to the latest World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 97 million new roles are likely to be created by 2025. Displaced workers will need to be reskilled and upskilled to take them on. To plug skills gaps, on average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will need reskilling of six months or less while 94% of business leaders surveyed said they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, up from 65% in 2018.

Soft skills have moved away from traditional knowledge and rely on the expression of personal and professional experiences which can bring on new perspectives. They are an essential element of change management. Better communication, better understanding and better diversity can lead to better questions that bring better answers.

What is the definition of soft skills

You can think of soft skills as characteristics that help employees thrive in the workplace, no matter their seniority level, role or industry. They can also be seen as transferable skills or interpersonal skills.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report has suggested there are five soft skills that will be increasingly important in the future of work: complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; and emotional intelligence. We would like to add empathy, self-awareness and resilience to top up the list.

Complex problem solving

Employers look for a workforce that is empowered and can work towards managing problems on their own. Problem-solving is the mark of the independent employee. It is all about using logic, as well as the imagination, to make sense of a situation and come up with an intelligent solution. In fact, the best problem solvers actively anticipate potential future problems and act to prevent them or mitigate their effects.


Creative thinking in adverse times and focusing on one issue at a time can significantly impact the outcome. With the ability to think creatively and outside of the box, employees are more likely to come up with unique and innovative solutions to obstacles they encounter. This eagerness to solve problems can lead to new ways to accomplish tasks and adds to a more efficiently run business. In fact, a study by the World Economic Forum listed creative thinking and problem-solving as the top of the skills list that employers believe will grow in prominence by 2025.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the process of solving problems through rational means and evidence-based knowledge. Employees who can engage in critical thinking are reflective, independent and competent. If you practice critical thinking, you logically connect ideas, scrutinize and evaluate arguments, find inconsistencies and errors in your work and the work of others, solve complex problems and engage in reflection. Most jobs, even seemingly nominal jobs, involve at least some critical thinking. However, the type of critical thinking an individual does at work can vary greatly according to the industry sector and their role in the company. There are a lot of benefits to critical thinking at work. Overall, a team that employs critical thinking when challenges arise is a team that solves problems, finds solutions, and works together cohesively. 

People management

Being able to manage people is an essential quality for aspiring and current leaders hoping to grow in their professions. It’s a skill that allows you to create a team that’s motivated, engaged and productive. Overall, the manager-employee relationship is positively influenced by strong people management skills. By harnessing and developing these skills, you are able to give your reports the support and motivation they need to perform, develop and face new challenges.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, gives one the ability to create better relationships with customers and coworkers and promote a positive work environment for the whole team. During times fraught with uncertainty and anxiety, emotional intelligence is key to building lasting and productive relationships.


Empathy is not a skill, some may argue. However, in the world we live in now, empathy is definitely a trait that most organisations are looking for. Indeed, some may even consider it to be essential to personal and professional success. For leaders, empathy is critical as multiple studies show that leaders who display empathy have happier teams, which are ultimately more productive. Having the ability to recognise the reason behind another individual’s behaviour and to be able to feel and express compassion is crucial in this era of remote workforces. Being around people physically can make us more attuned to another person’s feelings, but it can be difficult to judge from the other side of the screen.


Research has shown that people with more accurate self-perceptions tend to perform better in the workplace; for example, a study carried out in the Royal Navy found that more self-aware leaders were better able to tailor their leadership style to the situation at hand. Becoming more self-aware in the workplace allows professionals to relate better to their colleagues, direct reports and superiors, creating a more harmonious environment. 


The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the workforce as we knew it, paving the way for an important soft skill that is resilience. Resilience is the ability to thrive or cope with challenges and stress, and this soft skill can contribute greatly to career growth. Some ways by which resilience can be developed and nurtured are: by trying not to view crises as insurmountable problems, accepting that change is a part of life, focusing on your own mental wellness and communicating openly. In a post-pandemic workplace, employees who exhibit resilience will flourish.

Upskilling for the future

We are heading into what could be a hiring perfect storm for many companies. Skills that very often were overlooked in the workplace in the past, are now more significant than ever. Isn’t it time we updated those old and outdated hiring practices stop, and you begin to hire for the future? 

We can start today by seeking out those skills that will be most in demand in the future. At ABN Resource, our own award-winning ‘HireInsight’ candidate delivery platform incorporates competency, behavioural and video assessment. The unique technology coupled with the industry-certified in-house sourcing and research teams enables us to identify more diverse pools of candidates that can add value to the lubricants market even though they come from different sectors.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can together towards attracting and retaining the workforce of the future.