In a previous study, we found a link between soft skills and performance and learned that performance and productivity are influenced by happiness and well-being. We examine the impact of soft skills on employees’ well-being and happiness to expand our knowledge on soft skills in the workplace.

How soft skills impact employees’ well-being and happiness

A total of 1,433 employees across 43 companies participated in our study. Six soft skills are evaluated: critical thinking, empathy, initiative-making, leadership, optimism, and self-awareness. We measure the frequency and effort each skill is practiced as part of daily feedback. The more effort put into practice and exercise the skill, the sharper and more developed the skill becomes. Through the Happily daily pulse survey, we collected the responses to the question, “How do you feel today?” as happiness data. And the WHO-5 Well-being Index (developed by the World Health Organization) is used to measure employees’ well-being.

The results suggest that while optimism significantly and positively impacts well-being and happiness of employees, empathy shows the opposite effect. This does not imply we should be apathetic. Instead, leaders and managers should prioritize soft skills to foster a healthy work environment and mitigate the effects of empathy on well-being.

Empathy helps employees better understand their peers’ feelings and opinions by putting themselves in someone's shoes. Yet, when they share the suffering of others too much, their negative emotions rise. It carries a danger of emotional exhaustion.

Optimism comes to balance out negativities and helps them see opportunities during challenging times. An optimistic person is likely to be self-motivated when facing challenges and difficulties to find solutions. Optimism that stems from authentic and meaningful values can be the source of energy for organizations to move forward.

In combination with initiative-making, magic happens. Initiative-making influences people to take action rather than respond. Employees who master these three soft skills better understand others’ problems, recover from emotional burnout faster and initiate a better solution. Altogether, meaningful collective actions based on empathy and positivity create a better work environment and prevent toxic culture.

Employees who master empathy, optimism, and initiative-making better understand others’ problems, recover from emotional burnout faster and initiate a better solution.

Reduce soft skills gap to promote a happier and healthier workplace

Soft skills matter a lot. Besides boosting collaboration and productivity, soft skills are critical for creating a positive work environment. Leaders and managers should prioritize soft skills in the organization through our recommended strategies here.

Developing soft skills is challenging because it requires consistent practice and an opportunity to apply them in a real-world context. Employees with highly developed soft skills are essential for the future of work. Lack of soft skills causes rifts and conflicts. Organizations cannot effectively use their hard skills hindered by interpersonal issues, conflicts, and toxic culture. Businesses thrive when prioritizing soft skills in the workplace. helps bridging the soft skills gap in your workplace helps companies develop soft skills. We provide opportunities to practice soft skills in daily feedback, including critical thinking, empathy, initiative-making, leadership, optimism, and self-awareness. There are no shortcuts, but we help you put the right pieces in place (within days, not months!). Check out how can drive positive behavioral change in your workplace. Make soft skills a top priority today!


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