In general, patients are unhappy about being in hospitals. Nurses possess unique power to make a hospital stay less grim, less frightening and less overwhelming. A nurse who can do that has soft skills, the intangible interpersonal skills one needs to facilitate communication and navigate the workplace successfully.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Hard skills are the tangible skills a nurse needs to be able to care for patients; these skills cover a wide variety of tasks, including starting IVs, operating equipment and administering proper dosages of medication. Clearly, these are essential skills, but soft skills are important, as well. In fact, it has been said that employees can be trained to perform the hard skills, but the soft skills come from within.
Soft skills can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line. Clinical skills are important, but now the first order of business is to make patients happy about their outcomes, make reimbursement sources happy enough with those outcomes to continue funding and to make nurses happy enough to stay on the job.
Focusing on Particular Soft Skills
It can be difficult to prioritize soft skills, but a few stand out as particularly important in a healthcare setting. Communication is at the top of the list; nurses who are unable to express themselves effectively will have trouble collaborating with co-workers and supervising new hires. Other key soft skills include teamwork, problem solving, professionalism and leadership.
Other highly-ranked soft skills include informatics, technology, and management. An industry survey found that a great majority of nurses shared a concern about soft skills: 98 percent wished they had received more education in training in soft skills before they began working. The survey offered some specifics: 38 percent wished they’d had more training in leadership skills, and 26 percent wished they’d had more training in communication.
Hiring Nurses with Soft Skills
Clearly, soft skills are essential, but how do hiring managers go about ensuring that they are part of the hiring process? One option is to involve current staff members in creating a list of soft skills to seek in new hires. Because each nursing environment is different, managers need to be aware of the desirable soft skills in different treatment locations. Hiring managers can use that list to develop a list of behavior-based questions to seek out those strengths. On the flip side, it’s important for candidates to note that behavior-based questions are not throwaways; they can be a valuable means for employers to gauge desired qualities, including soft skills.
Soft skills are important in new hires, but they’re important down the road, as well. While employers should look for soft skills when hiring new employers, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) tells us soft skills are even more important for professionals who have been in their jobs for some time.
The Perfect Combination
At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. Hard and soft skills complement each other; a combination of them can make a great nurse or other healthcare professional. If you have that combination, give us a call at 310.436.3650 today. We would love to help you find your next assignment!