Soft Skills

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The aim of this essay is to analyse the relation between the increased demand for ‘soft’ skills on recruitment and selection policies. It will firstly evaluate specific methods and then it will discuss the result of these policies on retention and organisation culture. The essay will also investigate the possible implications and the significance of ‘soft’ skills in recruitment and selection in the service sector. It will argue that control plays an important role in the relationship that develops between employees, employers and customers. The shift towards a service-oriented business environment in the UK has been influenced by several economic, ideological and political changes that took place during the 1980s and the 1990s. Firstly, the accelerated rate of the development of new technology has caused the shrinkage of the manufacturing sector (Legge, 2005). Consequently, this has improved the employment climate by increasing the demand for employees with ‘soft skills’ who can work in the service sector. Furthermore, the increase of the consumption of products means that clients are constantly searching for items and services that are of high quality. This trend has led many organizations to use and improve their services in order to increase their profits and search for ‘competitive advantages’ (Beardwell and Claydon, 2010). For this reason, businesses need employees with high communication and social skills that would allow them to successfully interact with clients and satisfy their needs (Callaghan and Thompson, 2002). Furthermore, globalisation has also affected the working climate by forcing many organizations to compete on the global market with other businesses that may provide better quality or better prices (Legge, 2005). For all of these reasons, organisations have started to focus on employee resourcing policy in HRM and to pay more attention to ‘soft skills’. ‘Soft’ skills or ‘social’ skills that govern inter-personal relations are inborn and are based on experience. Characteristics such as behaviour, attitude, motivation, team work, communication, emotional stability etc. have a vital importance in our lives and in our interaction with the rest of the society (CIPD, 2010). Moss and Tilly (1996) group soft skills into two clusters: interaction and motivation. According to them, interaction includes traits that relate to how relates to others such as “friendliness, teamwork and ability to fit in”. On the other hand, motivation involves “enthusiasm, positive work attitude, commitment, dependability and willingness to learn” (p.256-257). These skills are differentiated from hard, technical, scientific or technological skills that refer to abilities such as mental strength, writing and reading, matching etc. (Moss and Tilly, 1996). This latter category is based on knowledge and can be learned through training. In contrast, soft skills cannot be taught or changed because they deal with a person’s emotional depth. Furthermore, it has been argued that a high level of soft skills makes learning hard skills easier (CIPD, 2010) because it allows the person to first adapt the hard skills to the task at hand and then judge what is the most beneficial way of using them. In the service sector, the emphasis is on customers and their satisfaction with the services and products provided (Callaghan and Thompson, 2002). Furthermore, the work environment of organizations can be construed as a small society in which people interact with one another and develop close relationships. Thus, employees who have more ‘social’ skills are considered most effective in handling every demanding task and in achieving team and organizational aims (CIPD, 2010). For this reason, organizations focus their recruitment and selection policies on finding the candidates with the specific soft skills needed for particular jobs. Nevertheless, in terms of recruitment and selection policies, it is believed that it is very difficult to choose the...
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