Humans and machines can amplify each other’s abilities but soft skills—human skills—will be the future differentiators.

The future of work has four defining features: it is human and digital, cooperative and collaborative, knowledge and task-based, and flexible and fluid. It requires a tech-capable, responsive and adaptive workforce.

To thrive in a digital environment, a number of attributes are vital: motivation, mindset, and the ability to interact productively, make complex decisions and continuously learn new skills. I believe a growth mindset, characterised by resilience, adaptability and grit, underpins all other skills needed for the FS workforce to navigate the changing world of work successfully. Emotional intelligence provides a compass.

While most education systems arm graduates with the cognitive skills required for entry into the workplace, it is the non-cognitive factors such as attitude, mindset, grit and emotional intelligence that will enable them to grow and flourish as part of an adaptive, responsive workforce.

  • People with a growth mindset believe that their skills, intelligence and competence can be cultivated; they love learning and prize progress over perfection.
  • Grit is staying power, tenacity, perseverance despite obstacles and failures.
  • Emotionally intelligent people are aware of the emotions and feelings of others and able to use this perception to guide their thinking and actions to achieve desired outcomes.

These characteristics are very necessary—and a distinct advantage—in a digital economy where individuals and teams are self-led; change is constant; iterative outcomes and quick wins are preferred to long development cycles; and collaboration in small, rapidly-forming, multi-disciplinary and borderless teams is the way work is increasingly structured.

To build these skills and put them to work to optimise business performance, FS organisations need to gain a better understanding of these skills and what it is that humans do best, then reimagine and redesign work to enable people to put these skills to best use.

Accenture’s New Skills Now taxonomy defines the new categories of skills a workforce of the future will need.

Accenture’s New Skills Now taxonomy defines the new categories of skills a workforce of the future will need.

Hope you have enjoyed this short series highlighting the advantage that human skills bring in the human-machine equation. Contact us if you would like to discuss how AI will impact your organisation and how you can maximise your human advantage.

For more on reskilling for AI, see the banking and insurance versions of our 2018 Accenture Future Workforce Survey: Realizing the full value of AI.

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