- Creativity was the most in-demand soft skill for applicants last year, and it has retained its place heading into 2020, according to a Jan. 9 LinkedIn Learning report.
- "Organizations need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks across all business roles, from software engineering to HR," the company said. Persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence rounded out the top five.
- LinkedIn noted that emotional intelligence — defined as the ability to perceive, evaluate and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others — was a newcomer to its list, which "underscores the importance of effectively responding to and interacting with our colleagues."
Employers say they're struggling to find applicants with the necessary technical skills; this has driven soft skills into the spotlight, with employers instead prioritizing workers with the right leadership and communication abilities, for example, and training them on hard skills.
It's notable that employers are placing more emphasis on emotional intelligence in particular. Companies that do so report higher levels of productivity and better employee engagement than those that don't, according to a 2019 study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. But less than 20% of companies surveyed instilled the skill into their corporate cultures.
But when it comes to current employees — as opposed to new hires — can emotional intelligence be taught? Experts previously told HR Dive that the trait isn't necessarily inherent. "We’re not born with a rich emotional vocabulary or the knowledge of how regulate our feelings," Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a founding advisor at the Oji Life Lab, said. We’re taught to control our emotions and while we all feel emotions throughout the workday, "EI development provides the ability to articulate and manage them effectively." It may be difficult to obtain buy-in, the experts said, but the creativity and productivity gains may be well worth the effort.