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Employees’ Top 7 Skills Needed for 2020

As the world careens through the Information Revolution, the gap between people’s current skills and what businesses need is widening. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), your employees must be able to collaborate, communicate, and solve problems to succeed in the future. The WEF refers to these skills as social and emotional learning.

Here are the employees’ skills you will need to develop or improve to compete in 2020:

Critical thinking and problem-solving

You can develop and hone critical thinking and problem-solving muscles. If you want your employees to succeed, make sure they can assess the environment, analyze a situation, design a solution, and ultimately win in competitive scenarios. This could be a friendly office competition to solve a common problem that customers are facing or some other solution-based competition. You can also help boost critical thinking by offering your employees constructive feedback.


Your employees need to develop original ideas and insights to help your company grow. How can you shake up the way they think? Offer employees opportunities to build something new or to innovate on a current product or service. Part of giving them room to create is making sure they have the autonomy to make choices and decisions. Give them the time and space to be curious and learn through collaboration.


A common goal gives a team the meaningful reason they need to work together. Point out the mutual benefits for employees and the company when encouraging collaboration. Make sure each team member participates and communicates their ideas, which sometimes can be difficult when you have a mix of domineering personalities and wall flowers.

As the leader, you need to exemplify respect and tolerance. Be the role model and show your employees how to work well with others by respecting everyone’s opinions, even the janitors.


Nothing will get done if someone does not persevere through to the end. Character is built during the repeated attempts at achieving a goal or launching a product which is why facing failure is a great teacher. Display this Japanese proverb on your office wall:

Fall down seven times and get up eight

Many things are outside of your control, like the economy and your customer’s financial position. Your company’s ability to hold on through rough time or to get back up after being knocked down is essential to achieve any real success.


Many people fear change, but one thing is certain for the future: change will happen. You want a workforce that can be flexible and adapt to changing work conditions. Employees who can stay calm and not fold under pressure will be more successful when disruptive technology changes the way things are done.

Instead of allowing employees to freeze when business conditions shift, help them find the solution. Let them come up with a plan, executive their plan, and measure its success. Allowing them to work through several iterations of their plan helps them learn how to adapt and change. Offer them a workplace built on flexibility and structure.


Anyone with a toddler knows how frustrating the “Why” question is after about the twentieth time. But if you want to encourage your employees’ curiosity, you need to encourage questions and guessing. “Because it’s always been done this way” is not a valid answer.

Again, provide your employees with the autonomy to make choices. Also make sure they have foundational knowledge of your product/business/industry to ask the right questions that lead to innovation.

Social and cultural awareness

The most important skill, social and culture awareness, begins with respect and an openness to learn. As companies compete in a global marketplace, your employees’ ability to understand and respect different cultures and norms will help them avoid miscommunication or even failure.

Understanding the various cultures in your company, at your customers’ and prospects’ offices, and even your vendors will help enhance communication, productivity, and unity. The ideas a cross-cultural team develop are more vibrant and thought-provoking than those developed by a homogenous team.

Final thoughts

Traditional learning and workforce development falls short of giving employees the skills they need to thrive in 2020. As the WEF found in a recent study, individuals who receive social and emotional learning (SEL) scored an average of 11 points higher on achievement tests than those who did not. WEF is finding that SEL leads to long-term advantages like higher rates of employment and educational fulfillment.

Help your workforce succeed now and in the future. Your own curiosity and good leadership skills are important for fostering a learning environment aimed at employees’ future jobs and your company’s future growth.

Looking to join a company who teaches and values these skills? Learn more about our KEO Marketing culture.

For more information about how to succeed in business contact our CEO, Sheila Kloefkorn.

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.