September 14, 2023

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Future of Work: Mastering Essential Human Skills for Success

As workplaces embrace technology, it is important to ensure human intelligence and skills keep pace to supplement and enhance the future of work.

While organizations have spent more on technical training in the last decade, the key human skills necessary for humans to thrive and excel in the workforce are becoming extinct. A 2013 Deloitte study of competencies needed in the digital age showed that active listening, speaking, critical thinking, reading and comprehension, processing skills, and time management were becoming more important for employees but more abundant.

A decade later, these competencies are more important but are less evident among employees. There's evidence that we risk losing many more of the human skills necessary for employees to excel in the digital workforce. The loss of these vital skills has left us with consequences such as poor social skills, isolation, increasing addictions, low mental and emotional resilience, high stress, burnout, and a failing grade on well-being intelligence at work.


Some vital skills needed for the future of work in the digital age include:

  • Responsible Communication
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Critical Thinking
  • Time Management
  • Active Listening
  • Leadership

1. Responsible Communication

Human communication is essential for well-being. It provides predictability, continuity, focus, and connection. Poor communication impacts our social skills and ability to network, enjoy time with family, friends, and co-workers, or connect with others. When communicating responsibly, we monitor ourselves and do our best to address miscommunication quickly to prevent it from causing harm.

Responsible communication encourages effective messaging skills, emphasizing attention to enhance accurate interpretation of meaning from spoken and written language and eloquently convey information. It emphasizes developing skills to connect with others and share ideas to clarify information and reduce wasted time. It stressed the importance of articulating thoughts and expressing ideas efficiently using oral, written, visual, and non-verbal communication. This helps improve listening skills to gain understanding and help build relationships, teamwork, and trust. You can deliver information in person, digital form, and in writing to enhance your social connections by developing effective communication skills.


2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage one's emotions positively to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence skills at the workplace are important because they help you perceive, reason with, understand, and manage your emotions and appropriately respond to others' emotions. Handling emotions well is essential to developing self-mastery, one of the well-being competencies we help clients develop. In the digital age of fast changes and extensive information, it is important to recognize your emotions and ponder on why you are experiencing them; instead of becoming overwhelmed by your emotions, self-mastery encourages us to acknowledge and gain insight from our emotions so we can question the thoughts behind those emotions. In the digital age, where interpersonal connections are often mediated through technology, emotional intelligence helps foster meaningful connections and combat the potential for isolation. Thus, we must learn to observe and learn how to experience life through our emotions to reduce emotional overwhelm and anxiety.

Emotional Intelligence

3. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is one of the skills we help clients develop to build their capacity to make good decisions. As a society and in the workplace, we are losing the art of thinking critically. We are becoming overly swayed by what we see and hear, relying less on our human intelligence to deduct facts from fiction. Thinking is a very important skill we must develop as part of our human intelligence as it sets us apart from AI and machines.

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information, evaluate evidence, and make rational decisions. Employees with critical thinking skills make more informed and strategic decisions, solve complex problems, make fewer costly errors and, a less stressed. Critical thinking in the workplace guarantees objective and efficient problem-solving, ultimately reducing costly errors and ensuring that your organization's resources are used wisely. We are constantly bombarded by information from various sources, making it essential for individuals to develop critical thinking skills to effectively evaluate the credibility and relevance of the content they consume in the digital age.

Critical Thinking to Success

4. Time Management 

Time management is another skill that falls under the competency of capacity building. We offer a range of courses on time management in the digital age, and I often share how employees can spend their days answering e-mails and text messages about outstanding files instead of working on them to pass them on. Interestingly, one must develop good decision-making skills to help use time effectively. It also requires a level of emotional resilience and self-mastery to focus on the important rather than the urgent ones. An employee may think that answering text messages, emails, and phone calls about overdue files is more important than working on them to resolve the backlog. The capacity to distinguish between urgent and important is a critical aspect of time management that many struggle with. Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between various activities. With good time management, you can accomplish more, which will help you to achieve your desired goals with less effort and less overwhelm or stress, allowing you to be more productive at the workplace.

Time Management

5. Active Listening

Active listening is an essential element of developing responsible communication as a competency. It is the ability to respond to another person/other people to improve mutual understanding. Active listening in the workplace helps facilitate better communication. When everyone applies active listening, there's more clarity about work processes, goals, and results. This makes it easier for everyone to get their job done well because they understand what they need to get done and why they're doing it. Active listening also requires paying attention and focusing on the other person to avoid missing meaning and context.

Leadership at Work

6. Leadership

Leadership is a core element of engagement at work. It is also one of the well-being intelligence competencies we teach and coach. This is essential because one must engage to lead well. Leadership is influencing and guiding others, new followers, or team members. Leaders provide direction and vision, motivate and inspire others to achieve the organization's goals, to create an environment conducive to success. We teach a Relational Leadership program that helps leaders build the self-mastery and emotional intelligence to lead well. By focusing on leadership communication, relationship building and collaboration among team members at work, leaders gain the skills and confidence to excel.

To Your Wellness

About the author

Joyce Odidison is a Conflict Analyst, Corporate Trainer, Keynote Speaker, Author, and Master Leadership and Well-being Coach. Joyce is the Thought Leader behind the groundbreaking Well-being Intelligence Curriculum™ and WIS® Assessment that identifies well-being risks for individuals and organizations. Her work includes harassment and psychological safety consultation, designing inclusive wellness systems, wellness assessments, diversity conflict and well-being consultations, train the trainer certifications, and relational leadership coaching. Joyce also hosts the annual Global Workplace Wellness Summit and her weekly What’s Happening at Work podcast. She is the author of six books and President of Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc. Joyce is passionate about helping people identify and reduce barriers to living their best lives. In her downtime, you will find Joyce reading, cooking, taking long walks or enjoying time with family and friends. She can be reached at

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