People's ability to handle the soft skills side of business such as change management, communication skills, leadership and influence, teamwork, knowledge management, business writing, problem solving, presentation skills or motivating, is now recognised as key to making businesses more profitable and better places to work.
Increasingly, companies aren't just assessing their current staff and future recruits on their business skills but also on a whole host of soft skill competencies around how well they relate and communicate to others.
Measuring these soft skills is no easy thing.
But in the most progressive companies, managers are looking for people's ability to communicate clearly and openly, and to listen and respond empathetically.
They also want them to have equally well-honed written skills so that their correspondence (including emails) doesn't undo all the good work their face-to-face communication creates.
Good soft skills also include the ability of people to balance the commercial needs of their company with the individual needs of their staff.
Being flexible and able to adapt to the changing needs of an organisation also qualify as soft skills, as do being able to collaborate with others and influence situations through lateral and more creative thinking.
The ability to deal with differences, multiculturalism and diversity is needed more than ever.
Very few companies are untouched by the ever-widening influence of other cultures and good soft skills facilitate better communication and people's ability to manage differences effectively.
Everyone already has some form of soft skills (probably a lot more than they realise)
They just need to look at areas in their personal life where they get on with others, feel confident in the way they interact, can problem solve, are good at encouraging, can schmooze with the best of them.
All these skills are soft and all of them are transferable to the workplace.
Not only that, the best news of all is that soft skills can be developed and honed on an on-going basis through good training, insightful reading, observation and of Workshop, PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE.