You may have heard the buzz about power skills. People often describe them as a rebranding of soft skills or human skills. But they're so much more than that. This new world of work we're all operating in requires a combination of specific soft and hard skills to be successful. Every employee, regardless of business function, should possess these power skills to succeed in this digital transformation age.
For many organizations, digital transformation happened in a hurry during lockdowns. Along with virtual working environments came the need for employees to be digitally savvy, better communicators and competent using a suite of collaboration tools, to name a few.
But according to a Salesforce 2022 digital skills study, just 25% of respondents labeled themselves "advanced in collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace." Their responses imply that a large majority of workers still feel unprepared for jobs in the digital-first economy.
Organizations need to help employees upskill and feel confident that their power skills will help them operate effectively in this new work environment.
The birth of power skills
Historically, hiring managers emphasized employees' functional capabilities, referred to as hard skills, more than their interpersonal abilities, referred to as soft skills.
Hard skills encompass the skills candidates can demonstrate through previous roles, typically based on their resumes. These hard skills can be anything like coding, bookkeeping, graphic design and so much more.
And in today's digital, hybrid work environment, some hard skills are no longer just specialties for specific roles. In many cases, they're an expectation that employees across all functions of an organization can analyze data to make strategic decisions.
And while these hard skills are necessary to do the job in most instances, many organizations have come to realize they can teach these skills to employees on the job and don't always have to prioritize them as much when hiring.
That's when organizations unearthed an emerging need for softer people skills, such as empathy in leadership, strategic thinking and problem-solving. And digital transformation has amplified that need. Teams had to learn to collaborate virtually, and even jobs that required employees to continue operating in person required expanded tech proficiency.
There's also an understanding that organizations are more attractive and enjoyable places to work if they're rich in soft skills. There are all kinds of benefits, like increased productivity, improved customer experience and loyalty, better job satisfaction and retention rates, and greater employee confidence and adaptability.
We've now entered the era of power skills, the powerful combination of critical functional skills and people skills.
Growing interest in power skills from employees across the globe
Organizations aren't the only ones gravitating toward this new era of power skills. Employees across industries are increasingly seeking opportunities to develop their power skills. In the first half of 2022, Cornerstone saw more than 1 billion minutes of learning content consumed, with topics related to power skills leading the charge among learner interest.
Courses centered around power skills secured four of the top five most-registered courses during this timeframe, reinforcing the growing need for organizations to incorporate these skills to continue to grow their people and organization.
Similarly, power skills also claimed leading spots when looking at top self-directed learning courses, top curation subjects and overall learning time. These courses featured topics surrounding productivity, emotional intelligence, teamwork and more.
This growing interest in power skills wasn't limited to just one region. At Cornerstone, learners' increased global interest in power skills topics. In EMEA, for example, the top course topics in the first half of 2022 included personal development, communication, productivity, execution and more.
The emerging essential power skills
Organizations that focus on upskilling employees' power skills have immediately impacted employees' daily function and their organization as a whole. The power skills critical to the work environment today — and tomorrow — include:
Communication and teamwork
- Team building
- Business writing
- Intercultural fluency
- Bias to action and adaptability
- Emotional intelligence
Leadership and management
- Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
- Strategic thinking
- Critical thinking
- Coaching and mentoring
Productivity and collaboration
- Computer skills
- Time management
- Communication tools (e.g., Slack, Teams, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word)
- Collaboration tools (e.g., SharePoint, Google Drive, Box)
- Project management tools (e.g., Asana, Wrike, Jira, Monday, AirTable)
Digital and data fluency
- Digital literacy
- Data literacy
- Microsoft Excel
- Data analysis
- Cybersecurity literacy
Personal development and wellness
- Work-life balance
- Stress management
- Growth mindset
As work continues to evolve, you could say that power skills are replacing the power suit as a linchpin of work. Power skills are a must to position your people to be successful in the future of work and grow with your organization. And no one understands power skills better than Cornerstone.
If you want to take your organization's skill building to the next level with critical power skills, check out Cornerstone Content Anytime. You can use these subscriptions to build the power skills you and your people need to succeed today and tomorrow.
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Talent mobility infographic
Download the infographic from the Cornerstone People Research Lab and Lighthouse Research & Advisory to see statistics around the critical aspects of talent mobility to propel your organization and people forward.
Building a workforce skilled for any future
Our initial research during the height of the pandemic last year uncovered what we at Cornerstone have coined “the skills confidence gap" essentially the gap in confidence levels between employers and employees on an organization’s skills development support. Two years later, we wanted to see whether the pandemic served only to exacerbate this problem, or whether it has improved skills development initiatives across different organizations. We conducted another round of research and found that, unfortunately, the gap seems to be widening.