Soft Skills in the Workplace: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 21 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In the workplace, you employ many skills to accomplish your task, cooperate with team members and achieve your goals. You can have hard skills that are directly relevant to your particular role or sector, but you also use soft skills that help you succeed in a range of work-related circumstances in any field. Understanding what soft skills are and how to develop them can help you advance in your job.

In this article, we define soft skills in the workplace, provide examples of soft skills that you can develop, and explain how to enhance your soft skills to achieve long-term success in the workplace.

What are soft skills in the workplace?

Soft skills in the workplace are non-technical talents that rely on characteristics such as emotional intelligence and work ethic. While individuals may develop their soft skills via education and practice, these abilities mainly depend on the candidates' intrinsic dispositions and pre-existing views about responsibility and respect. Organisations respect employees with good soft skills, because they assimilate easily into teams, interact well and make work settings more pleasant and motivating.

As a result, companies value soft skills just as highly as hard skills in their employees. Employees typically engage with one another in some form and the soft skills your employees have, the simpler it can be to build a conducive work environment. For example, you might be an excellent systems developer, but problems are certain to occur if you can't communicate well with the rest of the team.

Related: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Examples of soft skills in the workplace

Soft skills are the intrinsic personality qualities and talents that employees possess. Below are crucial soft skills and how they may benefit you with your job search and career advancement:

Communication

Communication is the process through which you convey your thoughts, ideas and emotions to others and understand the people you interact with at work. You may employ different communication skills in your daily professional life:

  • Verbal: This entails conversing with anybody you meet in the workplace, including persons at all levels of an organisation. Effective verbal communication includes interpersonal discussions, phone calls, public speaking and effective communication with clients, colleagues and supervisors.

  • Nonverbal: This involves understanding body language, maintaining good eye contact, managing the tone of your voice and vocabulary, and using gestures to demonstrate participation.

  • Written: Business letters, reports, emails and contracts are all examples of written communication.

  • Audio-visual: These abilities are necessary when utilising digital visualisation tools, such as slide shows during presentations or working in particular sectors, such as design.

  • Active listening: This communication ability allows you to better concentrate on what a person says, retain more information, and confirm that you grasp their ideas, instructions, and expectations with follow-up questions.

  • Digital: This may encompass a variety of communication methods, such as video-conferencing, social networking and instant messaging.

Creativity

Creative employees can perform new duties with minimal training and enhance corporate procedures. Creativity skills enable you to provide fresh ideas for your team and apply them to any position or level. The following are examples of creative talents that you may employ at work:

  • curiosity

  • innovation

  • experimentation

  • open-mindedness

Problem-solving

Employers place a high emphasis on the capacity to resolve problems promptly and efficiently. To swiftly handle a problem, you can depend on your understanding of an industry. The ability to work with colleagues to discover a solution is also a vital display of your collaborative skills.

The following are examples of problem-solving skills:

  • teamwork

  • research

  • risk management

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Key Differences and Examples

Teamwork

Employers want collaborative excellence from their employees to foster a more productive work environment. Teamwork is essential in certain occupations, such as marketing. Examples of teamwork skills include:

  • delegation

  • collaboration

  • mediation

  • coordination

  • conflict management

Work ethic

Work ethic is the skill of completing tasks and responsibilities quickly and competently. Even if you're still learning technical skills in a new job, having a solid work ethic can help you build a great connection with your employer and teammates. Many organisations prefer to hire someone with a good work ethic and an eagerness to learn than a qualified employee who seems uninspired.

The following are some examples of work ethic skills that you may use in the workplace:

  • motivation

  • perseverance

  • organisation

  • integrity

  • persistence

Adaptability

Employers highly value employees who can adjust to changes in the workplace. This competence is particularly vital for people that work in rapidly changing technological industries or new start-ups. Here are some examples of adaptation abilities:

  • consistency

  • optimism

  • enthusiasm

  • flexibility

Attention to detail

Employers also value employees who are meticulous in their job. While these skills are always vital, some occupations, such as finance and architecture, may benefit more from them. Some examples of detail-oriented skills are:

  • analysis

  • self-organisation

  • perception

  • introspection

  • observation

Dependability

Dependability is the capacity to meet one's obligations. Companies typically require employees they can rely on, as dependability shows that you're a responsible and trustworthy team member. It may entail consistently:

  • meeting deadlines

  • producing high-quality work

  • being on time for work and meetings

  • assisting others when available

How to improve soft skills in the workplace

Use the following soft skill development tactics to improve your effectiveness, efficiency and collaboration in the workplace:

1. Choose a skill and practice it

You can enhance any soft skills if you practise them. This is because most soft skills are habitual. For example, you may exercise dependability both at work and at home by being punctual and commencing tasks at work sooner to finish them earlier than planned.

2. Request feedback frequently

Many organisations do frequent employee evaluations and these reviews allow you to hear from others about how effectively you utilise your soft skills and where you may improve. You may also ask your superior whether you're qualified for a promotion and what attributes you can work on to qualify. Create an improvement plan based on the constructive comments from your evaluations.

3. Establish milestone targets for improving soft skills

Set precise, quantifiable objectives by carefully reviewing your performance assessments at work or soliciting constructive feedback from reliable friends and colleagues. It may assist you in identifying crucial areas for growth to enable you to set appropriate objectives. Depending on whether you need them to acquire a certain job or advance in your current profession, you may prioritise which soft skills to concentrate on.

Related: 9 Tips to Help You Improve Soft Skills

4. Locate resources to assist you in your learning

There are several tools and courses available to assist you in improving certain transferrable skills. You may experiment with a few different resources to find which one works best for your learning style. While some require money, many are entirely free and readily available online.

Soft skills in the workplace

There are many ways to use soft skills in the workplace. Below are some tips for using your skills more effectively:

  • Business ethics: When working with company stakeholders and customers, you can show honesty and professionalism.

  • Presentation: You can show your presentation skills by effectively articulating plans and strategies.

  • Competitiveness: Demonstrate your willingness to improve your performance in whatever you do.

  • Work-life balance: The ability to balance your personal and professional lives is essential if you want to be an effective employee.

  • Emotional intelligence: You can show this soft skill by controlling your emotions and expressing them appropriately.

  • Time management: Managing your time efficiently involves self-discipline, and you can demonstrate this skill by being early for work and meeting deadlines.

How to highlight soft skills

To position yourself as a top candidate, highlight your soft skills in your cover letter, CV and during the interview:

Soft skills for your resume

You can include soft skills in your resume's skills section and add active verbs that demonstrate your soft skills in action at work.

Example:

  • drafted all interoffice communication

  • managed the events calendar and diaries of eight executives

  • created a computerised file system to organise customer orders, increasing efficiency by 15%

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

Soft skills for your cover letter

Good cover letters feature at least one proven and relevant soft skill that demonstrates why you would be a good fit for the advertised position. Explain how your soft skills match the company's purpose and objectives in the cover letter.

Example: In my previous employment, my manager and colleagues praised my originality and leadership abilities. Recently, I proposed a sales campaign for one of our products geared at a younger population. I put together a team, and we effectively executed the campaign with excellent results.

Soft skills for a job interview

When seeking to demonstrate your soft talents during a job interview, the most successful method is to highlight specific scenarios in which you employed them. You may do this by using the STAR response approach, which comprises the following steps:

  • Describe a circumstance.

  • Explain your participation.

  • Demonstrate the activities you performed.

  • Outline the outcomes of your actions.

Example: My previous employer wanted to cut costs while I was working as a bookkeeper's assistant. I had to go through the files to identify any unused subscriptions. I put my findings and recommendations into a slide show that I then presented to management. They were so happy with my findings and assigned me to oversee a project to reduce wasteful expenditure and enhance spending procedures.

Explore more articles