How durable skills enhance workplace connections

by Dec 7, 2023

The days of hiring based on a single job requirement are out. Focusing on ‘upskilling’ and ‘durable skills’ is in. With the rise of technology, AI, remote and hybrid setups, and the undercurrent of world complications, the ability to communicate from an empatheic place and relate at the human level are cornerstones of a healthy work environment. Additionally, these durable skills ensure heightened engagement across teams and colleagues. 

What are durable skills? 

The term “soft skills” no longer addresses the “heavy significance” of these human-centric traits and skills. These traits are anything but cushy; rather, they exemplify someone who is, well, durable when it comes to engaging with the human behind the employee. They’re able to hold space for the job duties and also the human reactions that may impact those duties. Things like decision making, problem solving, emotional intelligence (EQ), time management, and active listening fall into this category, as do empathy, authenticity, and openness to collaboration. The TL;DR is that resume bullets make you qualified for the job, and durable skills make you qualified for the team. 

Bringing on new colleagues that thrive — or want to grow — in these areas can help bridge gaps that may naturally develop in virtual or siloed work environments. (It’s always hard to decipher tone over text, right?) Additionally, it should never be an assumption that people in leadership roles (or any role) naturally possess these qualities simply because of their position in the company. Employers need to actively seek out these people, and many employees entering the workforce prioritize relatability over resume. Think of durable skills as the emotional “trades.”

Why do durable skills matter? 

According to Harvard Business Publishing, the importance of emotionally forward skills became clear during COVID-19. Everyone was adapting to dramatic change at work and in life. Heightened emotions and stress quickly revealed who can navigate turbulent times while still getting the job done. Someone who may have a top degree in finance may not have the highest EQ or time management skills, for example. This is why Robert Boersma, vice president of operations at, says that upskilling will be a top employee retention strategy. Workers see the value in the emotional trades more than ever. Today’s workforce has a desire for expanded learning, especially when it comes to self-development traits that were previously overlooked.  

The surgence of AI also underscores the importance of the human touch. That’s why supplying avenues for self-development helps empower teams and improve communication, collaboration, trust, and cross-departmental projects. Upskilling also positions employees to make lateral (or upward) moves within their company; it shows that a company values all forms of growth.  

Durable skills and wellbeing

At the employee level, let’s look at how durable skills complement and build upon your wellbeing at work and at home.

Empowered connections

When someone can merge their character attributes with their professional skillsets, things improve in a variety of areas when it comes to connection.

  • Communication: By reducing misunderstandings and improving efficiency through unfiltered, thoughtful feedback, employee communication gets better. Connection is a key wellbeing trait at Sonic Boom, and communication a main driver of heightened connections.
  • Collaboration: This relies on effective communication and also humility to accept ideas outside of a single person’s brain. When connections are nourished from a humble standpoint, collaboration feels more effective and less defensive.
  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking allows individuals to analyze situations, consider multiple perspectives, and make informed decisions. This can lead to better problem-solving and innovation in the workplace.
  • Creativity: An openness to differing perspectives fuels creativity and allows teams to expand beyond the box of thinking. When we connect with others, we may experience a spark of an idea we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Improved work-life harmony

No one wants to put on a different face when they step into the office. This is where inclusion and belonging come into the spotlight and fuel company morale and employee satisfaction. When we allow people to show up as themselves without judgment, the added pressure to hide and shape shift goes away. Durable skills like humility, curiosity, empathy, and thoughtfulness help create this safe space. When employees are safe and heard at work, their dedication to the craft increases in value. If you see strong durable skills in a team member, ask for a lesson!

Decreased stress levels

Burnout and stress are everywhere, across all industries and professions. The Mayo Clinic cites things like workplace conflict, lack of work-life balance, unclear communications, and general unhappiness as key contributors to stress. Similar to the above, employees need to feel safe in order to come forward with their stressors, rather than pushing through for fear of losing their job. On both sides, durable skills benefit in this area. As an employee facing stress, vulnerability and trust play a key role in addressing burnout. As a manager, active listening and humility ensure an open-door policy is actually taking place. When we combine our human skills first, stress, anxiety, and burnout can be addressed in an effective and productive manner. 

Heightened collaboration

Working together in cross-functional settings leans heavily, if not exclusively, on communication and connection. Without it, you’re literally not collaborating! That’s why openness to feedback ignites the fire for collaboration among teams. In turn, highly collaborative environments yield better results and buy-in behind large initiatives. When employees have a stake in the game and a say in the outcome, satisfaction and happiness increase as a result.

At the end of the day, true work productivity, satisfaction, happiness, and effective change all require a levity and an ability to tap into our humanness on a daily basis. Programs like Sonic Boom Wellness help companies thrive in this area by highlighting engagement, social connection, and playful competition among colleagues. Care to take a peek?