In an increasingly competitive talent marketplace where technology talent, data scientists, and content marketers are in high demand, recruiters must pay attention to the importance of soft skills as a key differentiator. The assessment of communication skills and the development of employees' own communication skills will be critical to long term business success.
A number of trends are reshaping the recruitment skills outlook. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Anirban B Roy, Chief Revenue Officer, Mercer | Mettl, and Indu Kapoor – Vice President, Head of Business HR, ITC Infotech discussed the critical ‘emerging’ skills, how the hiring landscape is evolving, and what companies need to do to thrive in the new talent market.
Speaking about the major shifts, Anirban noted that “Digital transformation and the future of work are among the trends changing the skills outlook. As a result of the shift, business models are changing, and jobs are being transformed.” For example: A job in statistical analysis can now be better performed using advanced automated AI modelling technology.
As jobs continue to be automated, soft skills will play a crucial role in assessing the job fitness of candidates - that includes their ability to communicate business phenomena, identify problem-solving areas, and coordinate team activities.
Anirban explains that a number of different roles, including customer service roles, sales and marketing can be performed well in a hybrid context if one has excellent communication skills.
Even as new opportunities emerge, new challenges need to be addressed.
With the rise of remote work, companies today are deploying a number of tools, including video conferencing, instant messaging, email and social feeds. There’s a need to reflect on the business scenarios that are most useful for each of these modes and train employees to leverage each of these effectively.
“Effective communication is more than just language ability,” Anirban said. It is much more advanced. “Communication is a sum of various parts. There’s a need to focus on the building blocks and also on the various modes,” he noted.
Often, effective communication as a skill is also interrelated to other skills, including listening, empathy and language ability. “Addressing these areas holistically is the main challenge area,” Indu said. Relying just on technology to disseminate information does only half the job. There's a need to focus on employee communication needs.
“As human beings, we are looking for meaning in communications, and the biggest barrier is the lack of trust, understanding and psychological safety,” Indu noted. “More difficult conversations require more trust," According to Indu, inconsistency in communication is a learned behaviour.
"It’s not just able to being able to relay a message, but having the maturity to pitch your message,” Indu said.
The biggest problem is addressing communication issues is its personal nature. It needs to be addressed at the individual level and at scale – across the business.
“With AI and algorithms, the challenges of communication can be addressed at scale,” Anirban said. Previously, recruiters and learning leaders relied heavily on interviews as a means of understanding interpersonal skills.
Today, AI trained algorithms can identify the specific aspects that need to be addressed – whether it is to do with grammar or pronunciation etc., It can also identify challenges that non-native speakers may encounter to clearly outline whether the specific challenge area can be addressed with training.
For instance, Mercer | Mettl offers employers intelligent voice assessment tools that help them evaluate nuances in speech through its communication assessment, a global evaluation method that incorporates CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) guidelines and checks for critical non-trainable errors, and Carnegie's patented speech recognition and evaluation technology, which measures speaking and listening skills such as pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and communication skills.
These tools can empower HR teams with data and insight to inform their recruitment strategy and their upskilling agenda.
While a learning culture is critical to ensuring the long-term success of employees, having the right assessments, tools and policies will play a key role in enabling a business to succeed.