People Management

What’s the Impact of Soft Skills on Productivity?

Mar 14, 2024 | By Jenna van Schoor

Soft skills, or interpersonal skills, are receiving more attention as the job market evolves. In a competitive world, people skills have become more critical, as there is more pressure to innovate and adapt, which requires team members to collaborate effectively. 

In this post, we’ll discuss what soft skills are, why they are important, and what defines productivity. We’ll also explore the link between soft skills and productivity, giving suggestions on how to upskill in this area.  

What are soft skills?

We’ve given a broad definition of soft skills in a previous article. To give some more examples, research by thought leader Bernard Marr shows the following interpersonal skills are currently in high demand in the workplace:

  • Emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Cultural intelligence and diversity consciousness
  • Leadership

Why are soft skills important?

If we look at the word “power” in “power skills”, we are reminded that being able to collaborate, build relationships and navigate complex social environments is incredibly important in a diverse and chaotic world. 

However, being able to do so relies on core competencies like emotional awareness. This feeds into being culturally intelligent and aware of diversity, which can form a strong foundation for being an effective leader and team player.

What is productivity?

It might seem silly to have to define this, but does productivity look the same for everyone? No, it doesn’t. This means organisations and individuals need to define what being “productive” means to them. 

In a hybrid working environment, it can be difficult to gauge productivity levels. Therefore goals and timelines need to be put in place to ensure transparency and trust between employees and management. This helps avoid mistrust and micromanagement. It also gives employees the flexibility to complete their tasks at a pace that is healthy and constructive. 

We’ve touched on the link between interpersonal skills and productivity, but to demonstrate the connection further, we’ll now discuss some of the main trends that are set to reinforce the interplay between people skills and productivity.

Shift to skills-based hiring

According to a Forbes article, skills-based hiring is taking precedence over academic qualifications. This means experience is now more valuable than ever before, including your ability to work and communicate well with others. 


The nature of work has changed and is always changing, but the social upheaval we have experienced over the last few years has created many different ways of getting work done – and not always at the office.

The rise of the gig economy and economic pressures mean that the best person to help out with a certain task or project might not always be working in-house. For this reason, power skills like flexibility and adaptability are key to running a successful organisation in a world of constantly shifting demands and pressures, including managing complex schedules. 

Harnessing innovation potential

While it’s important to be able to work with people remotely, research shows that remote work has strengthened primary relationships within an organisation. However, businesses are missing out on innovation potential because people are not engaging as much with secondary business associates. 

While flexibility and adaptability are key, it’s clear that organisations need greater social cohesion on various levels to thrive. It’s often made fun of as a stereotypical office activity, but could the key to better productivity be improving your conversational skills around the water cooler?

Employee wellbeing

The relentless focus on productivity might be a good thing for increasing revenue, but unfortunately, this has also led to burnout. This means that effectively managing a team on an interpersonal level can be the difference between employee satisfaction and reaching department goals, and a highly stressful work environment and high staff turnover.

In other words, incorporating a more human focus on work relationships and schedules is critical for productiveness and success. This requires developing more of a focus on what is referred to as the “new hard skills”, which include empathy and emotional intelligence. 

Learn the “new hard skills” with SACAP Global

We’ve covered some of the reasons why interpersonal skills are so important, but how do we go about learning all of these? One way is to seek work experience that allows you to develop these key skills on the job. Another way is to continuously build your skill set, which you can do by completing short online courses and micro-credentials.

To find out more, you can browse our course offerings at SACAP Global or contact us for more information.

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