Soft skills are increasingly recognized as critical to the success of businesses, especially in the light industrial and manufacturing sectors. 

But businesses don’t have soft skills — people do. When people have soft skills, they have what it takes to succeed at their job and help their team reach productivity goals. But many modern workers — including those in leadership positions — don’t have traditional soft skills that employers have taken for granted in previous generations.

A lack of soft skills creates hurdles for a team that hamper productivity. That’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity for employers to help workers gain new, important skills that will help everyone thrive. 

The Critical Role of Soft Skills

A staggering 97% of employers acknowledge the importance of soft skills, according to a recent report. However, the same report highlights a gap, with only 37% of employers feeling that their entry-level employees possess the necessary soft skills for their roles. 

Understanding Soft Skills

Soft skills encompass a range of interpersonal attributes and personal characteristics essential for success in the workplace. These include but are not limited to, effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, basic organization skills, work ethic, having a positive attitude, and problem-solving. These skills are not just supplementary — they are foundational to an individual’s ability to integrate and excel in their work environment.

The Impact of Soft Skills

Research, including a notable study by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center, suggests that a significant portion of job success — up to 85% — can be attributed to well-developed soft and interpersonal skills. This emphasizes that technical skills alone are not sufficient for success; the ability to navigate interpersonal dynamics, adapt to change, and work collaboratively is equally critical.

Essential Soft Skills in Industrial and Manufacturing Roles

Several soft skills are particularly relevant and beneficial in the light industrial and manufacturing sectors:

  • Dependability: Being reliable and trustworthy is crucial for professionals in these sectors to perform their duties effectively without constant supervision.
  • Communication: Clear and effective communication facilitates better information exchange and collaboration.
  • Problem-Solving: The ability to think independently and address challenges effectively.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: The ability to work with others on a team and form positive, professional relationships while working productively. 
  • Organization: The ability to organize everything from one’s time to one’s workspace.
  • Adaptability: The capacity to adjust to new technologies, processes, and methods is essential in rapidly evolving sectors.

The Value of Soft Skills Beyond the Workplace

The benefits of nurturing soft skills extend beyond the immediate work environment. Individuals equipped with strong soft skills contribute positively not only to their workplaces but also to their communities. They become empathetic, responsible citizens who can impact society positively.

Fostering Soft Skills: A Strategic Approach

Recognizing the importance of soft skills, a strategic approach to fostering these skills within teams is essential. This involves integrating soft skills development into training and professional development initiatives. Typically, we recommend a team leader, often the supervisor, lead the team through an exercise that teaches soft skills. Not only does this process introduce soft skill concepts to workers, but it also helps the workers bond with their leader and form a stronger relationship. 

By doing so, businesses can create a workforce that is not only technically proficient but also adaptable, collaborative, and effective in navigating the complexities of the modern workplace. At Ōnin, we’ve seen great results through our Nurture the Green initiative that takes this approach. 


In the competitive landscape of light industrial and manufacturing sectors, companies that recognize and invest in the development of soft skills within their workforce will be better positioned for success. These skills are the glue that binds technical expertise to practical, effective application in the workplace, driving productivity, innovation, and growth. 

As we move forward, the emphasis on soft skills will only continue to grow, making it a critical area for investment by businesses aiming to build resilient, adaptable, and high-performing teams.