It’s no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are changing the landscape of today’s workforce. In the coming years, we can expect to see more and more jobs affected by robots and AI machines. This trend can understandably cause a lot of concern and anxiety for some employees, business owners, and HR professionals, who may be wondering whether AI can replace their employees and what they can do to prepare for this eventuality.
In today’s post, we’ll explore this topic in more detail and explain why, despite the benefits AI offers, there is no substitute for human soft skills and how—with the right information and leadership—job descriptions can help to develop those skills in the workforce.
Human Skills AI Cannot Replace
Human Emotion and Empathy
AI lacks human emotion and empathy, which are necessary in many industries, especially those that involve customer service or communication with others.
For example, say a customer contacts a company with a complaint or problem. AI technology may be able to provide a simple resolution as long as it’s logical. However, it can’t provide the emotional support and understanding a human employee can, or direct the customer to an alternative that might benefit their specific circumstances. Humans can read and respond to body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues that AI simply cannot.
AI technology is “trained” to perform specific tasks, such as data analysis, in a highly efficient manner. But when it comes to complex problem-solving, human employees are much better equipped.
Humans are capable of thinking critically and creatively and can approach problems from a variety of angles. In contrast, AI is limited to a set of pre-programmed instructions and cannot think “outside the box.” Industries such as healthcare are excellent examples as complex problem-solving and decision-making are daily challenges and could mean life or death.
Interpersonal communication is one of the most important aspects of business (and life in general). The ability to communicate effectively helps build relationships and fosters collaboration. AI cannot replicate the nuances of human communication, which will always be critical to innovation and business growth.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others—and another area where AI comes up short. Emotional intelligence is necessary for effective leadership, management, conflict resolution, and teamwork. While AI may be able to perform specific tasks, it cannot understand the emotional needs of its colleagues or customers.
Humans are remarkably adaptable in most situations. Considering the unpredictable nature of today’s world, agility and the ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances are highly desirable traits. On the other hand, AI is limited by its programming and cannot easily adjust to new situations on its own. Industries such as education, research, and medicine are just a few examples of environments where the ability to respond immediately is crucial.
Soft Skills You Can Train For
All things considered, it’s easy to identify all the places AI can’t go. What it can do, however, is shorten timelines, take care of repetitive processes, and make some jobs easier for the human doing them.
An HR example might be a company fielding hundreds of resumes for a position. Ultimately, the AI can’t choose the best fit for the job, but based on instructions and learned parameters, it can narrow the field considerably.
Understanding jobs in your organization and what competencies and skills are required for success in the position are essential. Gaining this understanding not only supports employee development but also informs what soft skills employees need to be trained on.
Some soft skills, like empathy, are more innate. In other words, some individuals have a higher capacity for empathy, while others might not. The latter group might not be trainable, but that needs to be addressed individually. Suffice it to say, understanding the specific soft skills that would contribute to success in a job and knowing which can be learned or developed (and which cannot) will help you establish where to put your effort.
Soft skills you can train for include:
- Communication. Verbal, written, giving presentations, active listening, and providing feedback are all aspects of effective communication.
- Time management encompasses prioritization, organization, goal-setting, and planning.
- Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to respond appropriately and manage their own feelings in any given situation.
- Problem-solving includes negotiation, creative/critical thinking, patience, and communication. Employees that can effectively (not just quickly) problem-solve in high-stress situations are a huge asset.
- Teamwork is essential in most employment settings. With the right mentorship and guidance, employees can become valued team players, adding value to their team and the organization.
- A good work ethic is often thought of as one’s focus on a task, but it also includes accountability, reliability, good communication, and positivity.
- Leadership skills can be nurtured, especially when some core values are already present. Decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution are essential attributes of successful leaders.
- Detail-oriented people are essential in certain roles, especially in high-compliance scenarios. The ability to perform a task with a high level of accuracy is a skill that can be developed.
In a sense, AI is the reason more organizations should be laser-focused on soft skills today. While AI can do many things, it will never replace the human factor—and that’s what people gravitate to, not AI’s cold, unimaginative logic.
How Job Descriptions Help
A well-crafted job description is not merely a list of tasks and qualifications; it serves as a compass, guiding you to identify the skills and attributes necessary for employees to excel in their roles. Soft skills should always be considered as they are often an indicator of a candidate’s suitability and will inform performance reviews throughout the employee lifecycle.
Soft skill inclusion in the job description may also help when hiring, promoting, or succession decisions. They provide a clear roadmap for identifying candidates who possess the human touch needed to thrive in an age dominated by AI.
JDXpert’s extensive content library, competency model, and adaptive workflows empower you to create dynamic job descriptions that truly capture the essence of each role. And soon, JDXpert customers will have the option to elevate their experience even further by adding Mercer Skills. This additional benefit will offer you valuable insights from the Mercer Skills Library, enriching your understanding of in-house talent, identifying future skill requirements, and addressing potential skills gaps.
Whether your industry demands innovative hard skills or thrives on exceptional customer-centricity, understanding the precise skills and competencies required for success is vital. Crafting job descriptions that unlock human potential enables you to build and maintain a high-performance organization, no matter where AI takes us.