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What do workplaces need? Creative thinking and empathy

The 2023 Future of Jobs report shows analytical and creative skills are considered as most important in today’s workplaces and this trend is predicted to continue

Creative and analytical thinking are considered most important skills by surveyed organisations. (Pexels)
Creative and analytical thinking are considered most important skills by surveyed organisations. (Pexels)

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From the Wordle craze to jigsaw puzzles, there are popular ways in which people engage their cognitive skills today, even unknowingly. While sharpening your cognitive skills is fun, turns out, it is also essential in the modern workplace. A new report by World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights that cognitive skills such as analytical and creative skills are considered as most important by surveyed organisations and this trend is predicted to continue in the next five years. 

With the increased integration of automation and artificial intelligence into services and organisations, there is bound to be a shift in the importance of skills. In recent times, as human-machine interactions are growing, almost worryingly, organisations are focusing on increasing productivity and performance using such AI technologies and thus, altering the skill requirements of employees. Today, there is more demand for cognitive skills such as complex problem-solving abilities, reasoning, and creative thinking. 

Also read: What will the workplace look like in 2023?

This is reiterated by the 2023 Future of Jobs report by WEF which shows that analytical and creative thinking are considered the top two core skills by the surveyed companies. Currently, almost 70% of organisations surveyed by WEF are focusing on analytical skills and more than half are prioritising creative skills. These two are followed by self-efficacy skills, resilience, flexibility, and agility. Empathy is also part of the top 10 core skills this year, showing the growing focus on interpersonal relationships and well-being in workplaces. The Media Entertainment and Sports industry especially seems to value empathy and active listening, according to the report. Interestingly, more organisations seem to value curiosity and lifelong learning and empathy than technological skills such as AI and big data and programming. 

As AI and other large language models lack social and emotional aspects--at least for now--companies seem to be prioritizing human intelligence and decision-making, social intelligence, collaborative skills, as well as thinking and reasoning in the workforce. Moreover, the importance of empathy in the workplace could point towards a shift towards empathetic leadership which is a positive trend towards making the workplace inclusive. Demonstrating empathy also shows emotional intelligence which improves interactions in general and promotes better communication and connection. 

While disruption to skills is predicted, every 6 in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of them have access to adequate training opportunities today. Currently, the highest priority for skills training in the next five years is analytical thinking, which will account for 10% of training initiatives. This is followed by creative thinking and AI and big data rank third among company skills-training priorities. About 40% of surveyed organisations are focused on developing skills related to leadership and social influence, about a third will prioritise resilience, flexibility and agility as well as curiosity and lifelong learning. 

While it is good to see that organisations are considering cognitive skills, creativity, and empathy as core skills, it will be interesting to see how economic, health and geopolitical trends will further affect this skill shift. 

Also read: What does Gen Z really bring to the workplace?


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